Psychology Melbourne Blog

News and Insights from the Science of the Mind

How to judge mental health apps

Edited by Jill Wright,

From time to time, the clinicians at Psychology Melbourne have been trialling mental health apps and recommending those they think are helpful to readers of this blog ... and steering them away from those that might be harmful.

Now psychologists at Melbourne's Monash University have created some helpful guidelines for evaluating these mental health apps, which, as they point out, offer enormous potential, but too often fall short. As they point out, there is no accreditation system for mental health apps and few are supported by experimental research.

In an article in The Conversation, Dr David Bakker and Associate Professor of Psychology Nikki Rickard write that, "Mental health apps don’t promise to be a replacement for professional help, but can be useful tools in the treatment of sub-clinical problems (such as everyday anxious feelings and low moods) and the prevention of clinical problems (such as depression and anxiety disorders).

They suggest seven criteria for judging apps, but also make a few recommendations: MoodMission, Pacifica, Smiling Mind, and MoodKit.

They also offer the chance to participate in a randomised controlled trial of mental health apps. If you're over 13 years of age, are willing to complete two siers of surveys administer 30 days apart and download and use a mental health app, you could earn an entry in a prize draw for one of three iPads. (And you'll be contributing to valuable research into how to improve mental health strategies.)

Given that this week is Australian Psychology Week, launched this evening by Victoria's Minister for Mental Health, Martin Foley, it's a timely initiative.

About the editor, Jill Wright

Jill Wright (MAPS, AAFT, AICD) is the Director and Principal Psychologist at Psychology Melbourne. Jill was twice elected General Director of the Australian Psychological Society and established the APS Victorian branch Study Group Network. Find out more about Jill Wright.