Owing to the growth in use of smartphones and tablets, interactive online and app based treatments for mental health are becoming increasingly popular and accessible. Out of the 27 mental health apps currently listed in the NHS library, 14 are for overcoming depression and anxiety.
Yet only four of these apps provide scientific proof that they work when used by patients, and only two of them have been properly evaluated for clinical effectiveness. Researchers revealed that nearly 85% of mental health apps may not be giving people correct data. They also added that their accreditation by the National Health Service (NHS) may falsely reassure patients. Even apps for mental health issues like bipolar disorder, bulimia and post-traumatic stress disorder also do not meet the standards.
The authors said, "The results show that the true clinical value of over 85% of NHS accredited mental health apps is at present impossible to determine. Until such time as evidence is forthcoming on the clinical effectiveness of these apps, and they have been properly evaluated, they should be removed from the NHS apps library. But these options need to be well informed, scientifically credible, peer reviewed and evidence based. Unfortunately, the situation seems to be much the same with respect to apps accredited by the NHS."
The paper appeared in the Evidence Based Mental Health.