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(Credit: iStockphoto/yacobchuck)


We use our phones to manage daily life--navigation, checking the weather, reading the news, entertainment, keeping up with friends, and taking photos and videos. The rise of mHealth, or mobile health, thinks therapy shouldn't be any different.

For an increasingly digital world, mental health services are moving from couches in doctors' offices to phone screens. A study conducted by Hope Lab and Well Being Trust earlier this year of more than 1,300 people aging 14-22 years old revealed that social media is a go-to when they feel alone, depressed, or anxious.

SEE: Therapy apps for improved mental health (Download.com)

Dr. Benjamin Miller, Chief Strategy Officer for Well Being Trust said as young people flock to the internet seeking support and help, health professionals must be ready.

"We must meet them where they are and figure out how to provide appropriate care, in whatever shape or form that may look like for them. Our communities, clinicians, and policy makers must identify and support resources--both digital and in-person--that can be most effective in promoting good mental health and well-being," Miller said.

The survey found that teens and young adults often search for fitness and nutrition apps. 76 percent of LGBTQ+ youth seek online help for depression. 25 percent of those surveyed said they already use a mobile health app.

The participants said they felt better after finding a peer who had similar experiences or health concerns.

But what happens if social media is the problem?

The survey also found that some users feel left out on social media platforms, contributing to depression and anxiety. The desire for more followers, more likes, and perfect photos is only growing. Bullying online, fights in the comment section and internet trolls, can increase anxiety.

As owning a smartphone became common from 2010-2015, a study showed depression symptoms climbing alongside visits to college counselors.

"There is no privacy," said Dr. Lisa Cohen, a clinical professor at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York. "With social media, people are meaner to each other, continually marketing themselves, and unable to escape the intrusive public eye."

While there are pros and cons of online therapy, users are drawn to the mobile health apps ease of access in contrast to doctor wait times, insurance obstacles, and mounds of paperwork.

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Takeaways

  1. Mobile health apps are the new go-to for teens and young adults to cope with depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues, according to new research.
  2. While this is a way smartphones and apps can be helpful, studies have shown too much time on social media sites can be also linked to depression and anxiety.

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Shelby is an Associate Writer for Download.com.