7 Mental health apps and computer programs

The move towards smartphones and tablets in recent years has seen an inflation of apps and programs designed to support people with mental health problems. These self-help applications can be a cost-effective method for delivering basic mental health and wellbeing information and support. An obvious virtue of mental health apps and programs is that they can be downloaded, often for free, and used flexibly in the users’ own time and geographic location.

Keeping track of the plethora of mobile phone apps and programs developed each year can be difficult. They are usually manualised and highly structured, often providing computerised cognitive behavioural therapy (CCBT). They are presented in a range of ways and include animations, graphics, videos, interactive episodes, homework assignments and access to supplementary resources.

One way to find apps that can be trusted and are safe to use is to look for mental health apps in the NHS Apps Library [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] . Any apps listed here meet NHS standards, which include evidence of clinical safety, security and technical stability. (You can find more information on the assessment process/criteria on the NHS library website.)

Activity 19: NHS library of mental health apps

Timing: Allow approximately 30 minutes

Go to the NHS Apps Library and explore which mobile phone-based apps are available there for people with mental health problems.

Download one of the free apps available and try it out.

Pause for reflection

Think about your experience of using the app. Is this something that could be useful for any of your clients? Can you imagine recommending any of these programs, either on their own or to complement the counselling you provide?

7.1 Risks and challenges of mental health apps and computer programs