While a non-traditional approach, it has been observed that mental health apps can be helpful to users, according to research conducted by a team from the Brigham Young University.

Findings showed that people using apps in dealing with mental health issues reported positive results.

Six hundred (600) people were included in three university studies that aimed to determine how apps - phone applications - influenced decision-making. Researchers looked at diet, physical activity, and mental health.

“Our findings show that mental and emotional health-focused apps have the ability to positively change behaviour," said researcher Ben Crookston, associate professor at BYU.

Ninety percent (90%) of the participants reported increases in motivation, confidence, intention and improved attitudes about being mentally and emotionally healthy.

“This is great news for people looking for inexpensive, easily accessible resources to help combat mental and emotional health illness and challenges,” said Crookston.

In the Philippines, over 4.5 million cases of depression have been reported, according to the Department of Health (DOH).

In spite the increasing number of mental health problems being diagnosed among Filipinos, recent statistics show there is only one psychiatrist for every 250,000 in the population.

In June 2016, two computer science students from University of the Philippines Diliman COllege of Engineering developed the PsychUP, a university-based app mental health first aid for students.

Other popular mental health apps include Code Blue, Lantern, Talkspace, PTSD Coach, and (SAM) or Self Help for Anxiety Management, among others.

The findings are also helpful for health providers, the researchers noted.

“These apps are engaging and if we can get people to use them more often, the potential certainly exists to help people change their behaviour,” said co-author Josh West.

The researchers hope to continue the studies by looking into effective mental and emotional wellness apps, such as those for meditation, prayer, faith-based scripture, medication, mood tracker, stress management and positive affirmation. MIMS