St. Louis mental health center adds apps to treatment offerings

A St. Louis counseling center is expanding its digital mental illness prevention and treatment toolkit by providing patients recommendations through mHealth apps.

Provident launched its initial digital resource, an interactive website, about two years ago and has seen firsthand that consumer interest in such tools is strong. The website membership grew from 745 members to more than 4,650 in short time, according to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article.

That six-fold response is what prompted Provident therapists to collaborate on a list of eight mHealth mental health apps for clients; it also plans to create an app for its successful website. The apps on the list focus on a wide range of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, stress and posttraumatic stress disorder.

"Mobile sites and websites seems to be where we are going in the future," Provident clinician Billie Hartgrove told the Post-Dispatch. "What I'm seeing is that social media is going to play a big part in how we address mental illness in the community and reaching out to people who might not have any other means of getting direct support."

The ability for patients to talk to counselors in person, on the phone as well as interact with providers on the website and now also find support through apps is crucial, Hartgrove said.

Yet as some mHealth industry watchers have noted, while there are plenty of mHealth apps--about 165,000 in 2015, a great many don't provide what is needed and only a very few have been vetted by experts. The Post-Dispatch report states about one third of those apps are related to mental health. 

Not only can smartphones help people manage a mental health issue, they can also be used to detect things like depression. A study by Northwestern University found that excessive smartphone use, measured by sensor data and geopresence technologies, may be the next big indicator of depression.

For more information:
- read the St. Louis Post-Dispatch article