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How to pick the right mental wellness app

Over the last few years, there has been a lot of focus on the topic of mental health and its importance for overall well-being. This has become an even more pressing issue as people are forced to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and its social aftermath.

Not coincidentally there has been a huge explosion in the number of mobile apps that claim to support mental health. With so many options, how do you choose the one that is right for you?

Luckily, a team at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has put together a tool that can help you identify which apps are the right fit for you. The tool is based on a model developed by the American Psychiatric Organization, which identifies five critical screening criteria:

(1) access and background;

(2) privacy and security;

(3) clinical foundation;

(4) usability; and

(5) data integration towards therapeutic goal.

John Torous, the director of the digital psychiatry division in the department of psychiatry at Beth Israel and the lead researcher behind the tool frames the need for it this way:

It’s not the same as buying a vacuum cleaner. We don’t recommend any one kind of therapy or medication program to [a patient], right? We would never say cognitive behavioral therapy is a five-star therapy and [another therapy] is a four-star therapy – it depends on the person and the context.”

See the tool here.

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