Texts Beat Apps on Treating Mental Illness

February 3, 2015
Meghan Ross, Associate Editor

When considering methods for treating mental illness via mobile devices, texting may be preferable over the use of apps, according to Clemson University researchers.

When considering methods for treating mental illness via mobile devices, texting may be preferable over the use of apps, according to Clemson University researchers.

The study, published in Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, involved 325 patients who were receiving treatment at community-based outpatient clinics for mental illness.

The patients listed texting as the most popular feature of their phones, while downloading apps ranked at the bottom, with some individuals saying they did not use apps at all. Thus, the researchers concluded that texting could serve as a readily available tool for mental health treatment, either as a supplement to regular treatment or a support system to those with low income or no access to treatment.

In addition, the patients reported feeling comfortable with the idea of texting their mental health provider, which led the researchers to believe texting could be a useful mHealth intervention.

Because there was more sharing of mobile devices among the study subjects than in the greater community, the researchers suggested that more privacy measures should be investigated for any mobile technology used for mental health treatment.

“Cell phone technology is in the hands of millions of Americans and early research indicates that this technology can be useful to help Americans who are suffering from some form of mental illness,” said Kelly Caine, assistant professor in Clemson’s School of Computing, in a press release.