Journal of Psychology and Cognition

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Mental health apps: A closer look

3rd Global Summit on Psychiatry and Psychotherapie
November 10, 2022 | Webinar

Billy Zou

MD, Boston Children’s Hospital Harvard Medical School, United States

Scientific Tracks Abstracts : J Psychol Cognition


Statement of the Problem: The burden of mental illness and problem behaviors in adolescence has risen worldwide. While less than 50% of teens have access to traditional mental health care, more than 73% have smartphones. Internet-based interventions offer advantages such as costeffectiveness, availability and flexibility. Methodology & Theoretical Orientation: A literature review was done using a PubMed search with the words mental health app yielding 2113 results. 103 articles that met inclusion criteria were reviewed and findings were then described and synthesized. Findings: 1. Computer-based CBT was found to be effective for OCD, depression, social phobia and panic disorder. 2. Web-based psychoeducation reduced problem behavior and improved parental well-being. 3. There is limited evidence for mobile-phone based apps, but preliminary results suggest computer-based interventions are transferrable to mobile apps. 4. Adherence to appbased treatment was correlated with impressions about the user interface Conclusion & Significance: There is evidence for the effectiveness of computer-based programs to fill the significant gaps that currently exist in mental health delivery in the United States and internationally. There is also for potential and theoretical validity for mobile-based apps to do the same, though more data is needed.


Billy Zou, MD is an attending psychiatrist at Boston Children’s Hospital and Instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He has presented previously at national conferences on issues of mental health technology and has given a symposium at the Children’s Mental Health Network Annual Research and Policy Conference on mental health applications. As an inpatient psychiatrist who performs screening services and emergency room coverage, he sees first-hand the nationwide crisis in mental health among children and adolescents and the need for solutions to reduce the burden of illness.

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