Will mental health apps replace the therapy session?

During the pandemic, feelings of fear, insecurity, confusion, emotional isolation, anger, sadness, worry, numbness or frustration, changes in appetite, energy, desires and interests, difficulty concentrating and making decisions, difficulty sleeping or having nightmares were common symptoms in people.

These symptoms cause stress, anxiety, and stigma, which trigger mental health issues or exacerbate existing ones.

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According to the World Health Organization investigation, “The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted essential mental health services in 93% of countries around the world. ” Although 89% of countries suggested in the survey that the mental and psychosocial health guide is part of their national response to COVID-19, only 17% of those countries have full additional funding to protect these issues.

There has been a sharp decline in clinical practices for mental health issues during the period of confinement and self-isolation. As a result, it was not possible to guide and monitor psychosocial needs and provide support in one-on-one interaction between patients and the therapist in the clinics.

The disaster, combined with years of cuts to mental health care funding, growing demand for mental health care, and the current shortage of therapists and one-on-one interactions, seemed like a great strain. If treatment needs were delayed or not detected, there was a serious risk that the pre-existing symptoms would worsen and new cases of mental illness would emerge.

Disaster management – when the world worked digitally, digital sources of mental health support were also in the spotlight as the medical technology industry focused on the needs of people with mental illness and developed introduced new applications to support these people.

There are many applications which vary in complexity and utility, depending on the condition of the individual. For example, some apps simply suggest deep breathing and relaxation techniques to help manage stress and anxiety, while other apps are mood tracking apps to help people with depression and depression. bipolar disorders.

Some apps offer sessions with professional support to people undergoing cognitive or dialectical behavior therapy.

woman using phone
Representative image. (Source: flickr)

There are already around 10,000 mental health and health apps available for instant download, providing a wide range of services from information to medication monitoring, coaching to telepsychiatry and symptom monitoring to help groups.

Some examples: InnerHour, an app with 4.5 star ratings on Google Playstore. Therapy-based self-care tool for depression, anxiety, stress, and sleep issues.

Wysa, an app with a 4.8 star rating with over 1 million downloads. It is packed with daily spiritual meditation that improves mental health and is also a perfect way to bond with family meditation.

Benefits :

  • Everyone has access to smartphones and when you can’t afford therapy or can’t get out during the pandemic but are struggling to deal with your mental illness on your own, you can seek help by downloading. simply an app.
  • These apps are reasonably priced or usually free.
  • These apps also allow privacy and confidentiality and can be safe for individuals.


  • Most applications have a set of questions, Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), which are common to everyone and do not comment effectively on everyone’s condition.
  • Most applications are not used after a regular download.
  • These applications lack proven efficacy.

What the experts say

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Speaking to Psycom, Sal Raichbach, PsyD, LCSW, said these apps have the ability to reach people who in all other cases would no longer have access to help by removing the limitations of treatment. He added that the best mental health app “will also have mental health practitioners on board, ready to answer questions, as well as a 24/7 support hotline for the most serious cases. “.

Another psychologist, Tanisha Ranger, has used a range of intellectual fitness apps with her patients and finds them useful in helping her patients stay connected. However, she argues that they should not be used as a choice or an alternative to usual treatment.

Speaking to Times Higher Education (THE), Dame Til Wykes, professor of clinical psychology at King’s College London, said: “It is understandable to want to use digital; However, we must only be using things that we recognize to be working. Many of these apps are produced and launched without proper evidence or peer-reviewed research on their effectiveness. “

Psychologist Jean Otto agrees, including that the apps will no longer replace usual therapy, even in the future.


Although the evidence supports the use of smartphone-based applications as an automobile for the delivery of intellectual health care, there remains a debate as to whether these applications have established excessive efficiency.

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