At first glance, mental health apps seem to be a step in the right direction. They give people convenient access to information that is either free or much cheaper than seeing a doctor. However, some of these apps are causing more harm than good because they attempt to diagnose mental health disorders. This can be dangerous for some app users.
Apps Want Customers
The key issue with any app that claims to help your mental health is that the app benefits off of you being mentally unhealthy.
All apps exist to make money, either from charging customers or from displaying advertisements. Since these apps have an ulterior motive for being used regularly, developers are less likely to want to make customers feel that they should stop using the app.
What Is Mental Health?
A certain measure of stress, anxiety, and even bouts of sadness are all a normal part of life. A mentally healthy person might get really stressed out or feel very sad from time to time, but that doesn’t mean they have an anxiety disorder or clinical depression.
Some mental health apps are diagnosing people with disorders based on algorithms or answers to multiple choice questions. The criteria for these apps may or may not match the same methods a trained mental health professional would use to come to a diagnosis.
Should You Use These Apps?
The best way to use a mental health app is if you’re doing so at the direction of a mental health professional who has already determined the validity of the app.
If you’re using an app on your own, you should keep in mind that any conclusions reached by the app may be false. An app is not a valid substitute for a trained professional. If you’re having a mental health crisis, then you need medical attention, not electronic advice.