Mental health apps improve motivation, confidence in users

Researchers from Brigham Young University have found mental health mobile applications to be feasible self-help tools to improve mental or emotional health, according to a study published in JMIR mHealth.

Mobile health apps have increased in numbers as mHealth becomes more routine, but evidence into whether these apps are feasible in improving mental health is lacking. In this study, researchers examined the correlations between theoretical behavior change mechanisms and the utilization of mental health apps.

"These apps are engaging and if we can get people to use them more often, the potential certainly exists to help people change their behavior," said co-author Josh West.

The study enrolled 150 participants who used mental or emotional health apps in the last six months. Participants were asked to complete a survey on app engagement, likeability and behavioral changes. Results showed that participants reported the app increased motivation, desire to set goals, confidence, control and intentions to be mentally and emotionally healthy.

"Our findings show that mental and emotional health focused apps have the ability to positively change behavior," said Ben Crookston, associate professor of health science at BYU. "This is great news for people looking for inexpensive, easily accessible resources to help combat mental and emotional health illness and challenges."