While cloud computing has come a very long way since the nascent days of Google App Engine, we’re still only beginning to understand the areas in which cloud technology can make the greatest impact in our lives.
One industry that recently took steps toward a more technology-based model is healthcare and wellness, with the adoption of data repositories like Google Cloud Healthcare API for storing medical records and telehealth communication to make doctor’s visits and therapy appointments more accessible.
Cloud computing has given providers options when it comes to communication, but the growing popularity of wellness and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) apps could soon lead to better data visualization and even personalized treatment when it comes to mental health.
What Is an Evidence-Based Mental Health App?
Even though it seems like there are apps for anxiety and depression of all shapes and sizes on the market today, the number of evidence-based mental health apps is still relatively small. That’s because, in order for an app to be considered evidence-based, it needs to meet certain requirements by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or have one randomized clinical research study that supports its effectiveness, as reported by PsychCentral.
An evidence-based mental health app would be the biggest improvement because it gives the patient and provider confidence in their diagnosis and treatment. This improvement also saves time in unnecessary diagnostic testing and consultations with specialists regarding knowledge gaps, essentially giving everyone a system that consists of tasks. Complexity ranges from reference retrieval to the processing of relative transactions, complex data mining, and rule-driven decision support systems. This gives all users a trusted, scientific embedded system to back up their mental health data.
Useful Features of CBT Apps
Many evidence-based mental health apps come with a variety of features that individuals can use to manage or track some area of mental health. From setting reminders for taking medication to deprogram negative thought tendencies, mental health and CBT apps come with a variety of features that can help users build awareness around their mental health.
CBT apps have features that can improve our daily habits, willpower, and give us a growth system that improves our way of thinking. Not only do they provide a space for tracking systems, but they are also able to hold journaling and notes on the important impacts of daily habits, creating an overall location where the user has the power to destroy bad habits and start healthier new ones.
Self-Management and Tracking
One evidence-based mental health app called Medisafe allows users to set alerts to remind them when to take medication. While other CBT apps, such as Worry Knot by IntelliCare, actually use cognitive-behavioral principles like “tangled thinking” to teach users how to manage everyday worries and anxiety.
Tracking and self-management can help users understand more about thought patterns and side effects from medication, all of which can help patients and doctors find a treatment path and clinical plan that works best for them, including being able to create therapy techniques for our health and build confidence. Apps for anxiety and depression have even created mindfulness techniques that help with meditation, quick mental start programs, and even SOS buttons if the user is feeling the need of urgency.
Data and Analytics
Users that want to manage their mental health through better sleep and routine exercise can use an app like Whoop to track their respiratory rate and sleep quality. Whoop is not a CBT or mental health app, but its ability to track patterns in sleep and recovery can help users zero in on the behavioral patterns that may be negatively impacting their health and, by extension, their mental health.
Other mental health apps, such as Breathe2Relax, equip users with recommendations for breathing exercises to soothe symptoms of PTSD, general anxiety, and more.
Calm is an app made to enjoy listening to therapeutic music and has the ability to track and create sleep patterns. We can’t forget Mood Kit, which allows users to create customized journal entries for moods.
With mental health apps expanding and becoming more specific, having many personalized touches bring a more manageable, enjoyable, and convenient way to manage our health.
Current Limitations of CBT Apps
While apps for anxiety and depression have grown in popularity, many apps are still created with little evidentiary support that they work. Having the ability to track and manage health with CPT Apps can seem like users have the world at their hands, but it's important to commit to oneself. We all need accountability, and we sometimes create more personalized relationships with a friend, family member, or provider, making an overall safe space to push forward. So, we still have to show up and put forth the effort.
Being more self-reliant, CPT apps may also not be suitable for people with complex mental health needs or learning difficulties. Some critics actually argue that these apps only address current problems and very specific information that not much of the possibility of underlying causes of mental health is given, such as an unhappy home.
Participating and involving with CPT apps can create and build more pressure to face fears, but it takes true honesty to involve oneself in things that eventually can change our lives for the better.
How Evidence-Based Mental Health Apps May Improve Treatment and Patient Plans
While we may still be in the beginning stages of understanding just how cognitive behavioral therapy apps meaningfully fit into the treatment of mental health, there are some early indications that a hybrid treatment plan could provide more mental health services to rural areas to bridge the mental health treatment gap. Treatment plans are a good place to start when wanting to improve one’s mental health. A mental health treatment plan creates teamwork between patient and provider, which can greatly enhance client engagement. Storing data in evidence-based resources makes the treatment for patient plans more trusted and heavily experienced.
Goals, milestones, and timelines make it easier to store information. Providers are now able to know where you will go or maybe are headed. Having credible knowledge brings worldwide sources all in a digital space that is accessible and highly specific to the data captured by CPT apps. Evidence-based mental health apps will be a part of our evolving health systems, with lowering costs for healthcare, easy access to update a network of medical data, creating a more customized experience and road map to care for you.