Skip to main content

How Mental Health Apps Can Help Youth: What You Need to Know

Mental health issues are serious. Currently, 1 million children and youth in Canada live with mental illness.1But, unfortunately, 75% of youth who need help do not access specialized treatment2 — partly because the wait list for traditional in-person treatment may be between 6 to 12 months.3,4

If you’re struggling and you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone, mobile mental health apps might be a good first step. They are quickly becoming an important tool to help youth manage their mental health in tandem with traditional treatments from medical professionals.

Mobile apps focused on mental health may help:

  • Supplement traditional treatment in crisis moments.

  • Make treatment more accessible for youth who struggle to talk about their challenges.

  • Provide support for those waiting to access treatment.

  • Ensure youth have help between sessions.

  •  Help youth stay on track with recommended treatments.

Questions to help find a mental health app for you:

What is the app for?

What mental health condition or conditions are you struggling with? There are apps made specifically for youth experiencing things like depression, anxiety, mood disorders, addiction, and suicidal ideation. Finding an app designed with specific issues in mind can help you get targeted treatment.

Who developed the app?

You want an app that uses tested methods to help improve your mental health. Were experts involved in creating the content for the app? That might mean it will be more likely to work.

Is there evidence the app works as advertised?

All mental health apps make claims about how they can make your life better, but do they back that up with research or data? Look for apps that have reputable studies or peer reviewed research showing they’re effective.

When was it last updated?

Mental health research and recommendations change. If an app hasn’t been updated in over two years, it might not be using current medical best practices. Look for an app that updates more frequently.

Do you have control of your own data?

Sharing your personal mental health data is an act of trust. You want to make sure you know who is going to see that data and how it will be used. Can you delete your data from the app and its servers if you decide to uninstall the app?

Is your data secure?

Before you sign up, read through the app’s privacy policy to make sure that you know how they will protect or encrypt your data and if you feel comfortable with how your data may be used.

Is your data private?

Apps can sometimes share anonymous user data with other companies. Make sure to read the fine print so that you know how your data will be used and that you feel comfortable with it.

Can you afford it?

While many mental health apps are free, some require that you pay for a subscription or make in-app purchases. Make sure you know these costs upfront before downloading the app.

Can you personalize it?

Once you start using the app, are you able to personalize it to fit your needs? For example, you don’t want an anxiety app that keeps recommending you do things that will help people with social anxiety when you don’t have anxiety in social situations.

How usable is it?

Some apps are designed better than others. If the app is confusing to use, you’ll be less likely to stick with it. Find an app whose design

If you’re struggling, remember to tell someone and ask for help.

Listen to the RBC Disruptors Podcast

Learn more about RBC Disruptors

Download Report

Download Infographic