Researchers from Brigham Young University set out to determine just how effective health apps can be and why they influence users' behavior, surveying 600 people who used diet, physical activity or mental health apps in the previous six months. The results for mental health apps were both surprising and compelling:
The findings for diet and fitness app users were as expected: more than 90 percent of users reported an increase in their desire and motivation to eat healthy and be physically active. But the really good — and fascinating — news was the response from mental and emotional health app users: 90 percent reported increased motivation, confidence, intention and attitudes about being mentally and emotionally healthy.
Acknowledging that mental health apps are not meant to replace traditional therapy, the researchers note that they are still a worthwhile tool.
Research shows that people who struggle with mental and emotional health problems feel like they lack control. While there are many problems that should be addressed by a professional, users can now take confidence that resources they can use on their own really are effective.
This is the first step in discerning how widely suitable these mobile apps are for various mental health issues and which types facilitate the most desirable outcomes.
The BYU health science professors hope to continue studying this topic by looking into what kind of apps are most effective at improving mental and emotional wellness (meditation prayer, faith-based scripture, medication adherence, mood tracker, stress management or positive affirmation).