Helpful Steps when Searching for Trustworthy Behavioral Health Applications
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) put together a presentation on the use of Behavioral Health Applications. It is estimated that there are currently over 10,000 mental health related applications that people can download and make use of. However, not all are reliable or trustworthy when it comes to supporting people. Many lack guidance from the FDA and are not HIPAA compliant. Because of this, a high percentage of the applications expose or sell personal health data that they receive through the app’s users. This data is taken with or without the consent of users and sold to third parties. In an analysis study done by Patsakis C. Security and Privacy, only 50% of apps shared data securely and 80% shared health-related data to third parties. As well as sharing private data, many applications are not tightly regulated and make false claims about their effectiveness. This affects all people relying on them to have resources and a network to turn to when struggling with mental health stability, especially during these pandemic winter months.
NAMI provided assessment criteria that we at TRACKtech find compelling and informative when seeking a behavioral health application. The top five priorities to keep in mind when looking for behavioral health applications are security, privacy, effectiveness, usability and data sharing with external parties related to you such as physicians or family members. We also personally recommend that the application is user friendly and easy to navigate. This allows for you to browse and customize all resources to best suit you, as well as ensuring the application is engaging and providing for your necessities. Additionally, make sure it is HIPAA compliant and stores data securely to avoid using one that is seeking to make a profit by selling user data.
An additional resource funded by the Argosy Foundation is https://apps.digitalpsych.org/, which provides a customizable search engine for applications related to behavioral health. Individual preferences and your values are important when looking for an application to trust and use every day. We trust this resource to provide engaging and effective mental health resources for people to use every day. Remember – you are not alone.