"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

The problem with most NHS-prescribed mental health apps? There is not any evidence that they really work.

Unmet need for mental health services Unparalleled level Thanks to increasing demand and ever-decreasing NHS resources. Monthly references In 2013 there was a 13% increase in community mental health teams and a 16% increase in crisis services. So excess of 200 full-time NHS mental health doctors and three,600 nursing positions are lost throughout the same period.

As lots of us now have access to and depend on smartphones, an increasingly popular solution to this problem is using apps to deliver automated types of mental health treatment. Apps are relatively low cost, widely available and, unlike traditional NHS mental health services, may be utilized by multiple person at any given time. Some apps, eg The big white wallOffer a community support service with access to trained healthcare professionals at any time of the day. Others provide automatic. Cognitive behavioral therapy(CBT) and methods Mood tracking or Self reflection.

Only one and a half people There is a choice About once they receive traditional mental health treatment and only 13% can select where. Using mental health apps allows people to access a type of treatment on their terms and may even provide treatment to those that are currently unable to interact with it. This might include an adolescent who is simply too uncomfortable or stigmatized to speak about their condition face-to-face, a service member of the armed forces who needs to stay anonymous, or a single mother who desires to share her life with others. Struggling to schedule appointments around childcare and work commitments.

No hard evidence.

The reality is that there's a big gap between the theoretical advantages of mental health apps and the advantages they supply in practice. Of the 27 mental health apps endorsed and really useful by the NHS Health Apps Library, 14 are designed to treat or manage symptoms of depression and anxiety. They are sometimes described as assisting users in performing such tasks. Control stress, Improve well-being And Beat depression.

Yet Only four None of those apps currently provide any hard evidence of the outcomes reported by them. Real world users. And Only two Use NHS approved methods to measure the effectiveness of mental health treatment, e.g Generalized anxiety disorder 7 The questionnaire leaves a matter on the effectiveness of the remaining 12 (85%) of the 14 NHS-accredited mental health apps.

In 2013, 1,536 depression-related apps were available for download but only 32 were reading published research articles. Their effectiveness. This pattern of high availability and low evidence base may also be seen in therapeutic apps. Bipolar disorder, Bulimia nervosa And Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

But the true issue is the apps that include the seal of approval from the world's leading healthcare system. Approval by the NHS gives apps the looks of quality, and provides the app credibility and legitimacy Belongs to How many individuals are more likely to download it?

Therapy on the go.

Three out of ten People with untreated mental health decide to pay for personal treatment, and apps that haven't yet demonstrated any measurable advantages are a possible waste of their money. But they can even increase anxiety levels amongst those that need it most and have least access to effective NHS-led mental health services. Sufferers are more likely to feel that no solution is feasible after unsuccessful attempts to resolve any mental health problems.

The NHS generally provides a regulatory framework that's second to none, and a win over its lead body, NICE, is usually seen as one. The main obstacle For developers of recent medical products. Unfortunately, it seems that the identical level of evidence-based decision-making has not been applied to the apps that the NHS is recommending for mental health patients.

Fortunately, it seems that this topic is now being taken more seriously. From 16 October, the NHS Health Apps Library will officially stop to exist and the organization is searching for latest ways to check and manage such products. A framework to assist app developers understand what level of clinical quality and evidence they need to succeed in can be extremely useful.

Identifying good people

In the meantime, there are some clear signs of quality that users can search for to be sure that mental health apps don't do more harm than good. First, apps which can be supported by mental health professionals are above average. Doubly effective As prepared without skilled expertise.

While the NHS may not have implemented such rigor itself, well-established regulatory bodies equivalent to NICE and the US Food and Drug Administration may help highlight apps that supply real solutions. It's also value checking how much information app developers provide about their products. Is there any evidence that their claims to “kill depression” are anything greater than marketing?

Finally, it's value remembering that some mental health apps are designed with clinical quality and effectiveness in mind and offer real help to their users. For example, The big white wall The recovery rate is 58%, higher than the 44% recorded by the NHS's flagship initiative to extend access to traditional mental health treatment. during the same period.. So apps can improve people's mental health, at low price and from the comfort of their very own homes, but provided that done right.