Valuable Mental Health Apps Lost in a Sea of Untrustworthy Digital Solutions

Evan Sweeney | Fierce Healthcare | April 10, 2017

The mental health industry has been flooded with potentially untrustworthy apps.
With more than 10,000 mobile health apps available to assist with mental health treatment, patients and clinicians now face the daunting challenge of parsing out trustworthy digital tools.

That challenge has only intensified as more apps have entered the marketplace amid the FDA’s hands-off approach to regulating apps and wearables, researchers wrote in JAMA Psychiatry. Incorporating digital solutions and patient-generated data into mental health treatment could be incredibly beneficial, but the proliferation of untrustworthy or ineffective apps has clouded the marketplace.

The two researchers—from Stanford and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center—cited one app that recommended hard alcohol as a sleep aid for bipolar patients and many others that collect and sell patient data through convoluted user agreements. Previous research has shown that most mHealth apps on the marketplace aren’t effective for chronic conditions...