CNN’s Elizabeth Landau recently wrote that smartphones can provide surrogate mental health therapy (http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/27/health/mental-health-apps/index.html?hpt=he_c1). It’s not intended to take the place of a licensed, experienced healthcare provider but can help reinforce or supplement traditional mental health care.
Some of the available apps include “Live OCD Free” that costs $79.99 but offers the evidenced-based OCD treatment of exposure and response prevention. Less expensive apps (around $1) include “Moody Me” that allows users to upload photos of various moods, helps determine what is causing a particular mod, and creates mood graphs so that users can see how their moods have changed over time. “Live Happy” is an app that presents activities that promote happiness, such as reflection, expressing gratitude, and visualizing goals.
“Depression Check” offers a 3-minute screening tool for depression and anxiety. The “PTSD Coach,” co-created by the VA's National Center for post-traumatic stress disorder, includes information about PTSD, a self-assessment, and tools to promote relaxation and anger management.
All of these apps are tools that can be used for screening or supplemental mental health support. Hopefully, the public will use these tools properly and seek care from reputable mental health providers when indicated, rather than relying on “self-help” apps