We all know that public health measures, like self-isolation and quarantine, are necessary to protect the health of the population, but doctors warn they may have a profound and long-lasting effect on mental health. What can we do to diminish the sense of fear and anxiety in the wake of another wave of pandemic?
For those who are under quarantine and suffer from mental disorders, getting timely access to a psychologist or a psychiatrist may not always be easy. This is especially true when some people prefer to keep their suffering to themselves. That’s when mental health apps come vitally important.
No wonder that the number of mobile health tracking apps has skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mental health apps do not replace psychiatric treatment. Instead, they help patients better manage their own symptoms, schedule a session with a therapist, or reach out for help in times of need. So if your mental health startup is determined to make a difference in the mental health niche, then it’s important to understand what mental health apps tick, both for the patient and for the therapist.
Are mental health apps effective?
Studies say that mental health apps help access treatment and lessen the burden on primary health care. Over 5.2 billion people worldwide own a smartphone, so not surprising that when the COVID-19 situation rapidly worsened, downloads of mental health apps accelerated. Around the world, both authorities and people are turning to apps and other digital options to cope with the trauma of COVID-19.
What mental health apps do?
Bereavement, isolation, loss of income and fear are triggering mental health conditions or worsening existing ones. Many people are facing increased levels of alcohol and drug use, insomnia, and anxiety. So what a mental health care app does to help?
- Patients can self-manage and monitor their mental health condition
- Patients can use the app for cognition improvement, which is especially important for elderly
- Social and coping skills improvement for people who suffer alone
- Communication skills improvement and building relationships
- Therapists can make treatment more efficient with symptom tracking
- Therapies use apps for secure health data collection and reporting
- For the use of mental health professionals to help their patients
Unlike many app categories, planning mental health app features requires a good deal of preparation. Many good-quality apps will showcase their research into the functionality featuring mental health practitioners and other medical professionals. Your responsible application developer should be able to help you collect the evidence supporting your app features.
Depending on the direction you want to take with the development of your brand-new mental health app, you should prioritize certain functions. Below there are the most important ones you should consider.
What the patient needs
Emergency contact During the lockdown, quick response from the healthcare provider can mean a difference between life and death. That’s why video calls between patients and therapists should also have an emergency option. Make sure that the video calling option is easy to find so that the user doesn’t undergo additional stress to get in touch with help.
Ways to monitor and record symptoms Effortlessly tracking the treatment progress using charts or other metrics will be a great help for therapists. Besides, journaling has shown to have anxiety-relieving properties.
Ways to connect to the community Being isolated during the lockdown is tough for anyone, and especially for people with underlying mental health issues. When patients can share and connect with others, it helps them regain serenity.
Personal data protection With the advent of telehealth and virtual care, patients are very concerned about the security of their data. Your app should clearly state how personal data is protected, even after the patient deletes the account.
When designing the patient-facing side of the mental health application, it’s important to keep it discreet. The mental health app design and user interface should be neutral in tone and free from annoying popups, bright colors, or push notifications.
The mental health therapist wants
Easy to use dashboard Therapists have enough on their plates these days, and the last thing they want is to tap endless menus to complete urgent issues that require their attention.
Timely notifications Session reminders, incoming messages, appointment changes make therapist’s life easier. As a health-related app developer, you should make sure that all patient communication is secured and all sensitive information has been safeguarded.
Convenient payment options Equally important for all parties involved, payments should be both easy to make and compliant with insurance policies and online payment regulations.
Smooth contact with the patient Effortless communication with patients, including live chat, video and audio calls is absolutely essential. Make sure to include the area where the practitioner can inform the users about their working hours and emergency contact.
In the future, you may consider adding tests and questionnaires, self-education sections for the patient, as well as a journal both for the therapist and the patient.
How long does it take to build a mental health care app?
The timing depends on the number of features you have in mind as well as the collaboration type with your team of developers. If you are launching together with a mental health institution, you should take into consideration longer time required to achieve full compliance.
The scope of features and the choice of the platform for your app can make a difference. A mental health app for Android will have a different list of features compared to the mental health app designed with Apple Watch in mind. But on average, you can expect an app to be ready in 2 months.
Will the lockdown still be in place when you launch your mental health app? Most likely, certain restrictions will remain until the end of 2021. Even if the vaccine has been found effective, it will take many months since it has been administered across the population. But the aftermath of COVID-19 when it comes to mental health will remain for many if not years. This means that the demand for mental care applications will not slow down.
How much does it cost to develop a mental health care app?
If you choose to operate under the Time and Materials model, then you pay for the hours spent developing your mobile application. The hourly rate greatly depends on the location of developers. For example:
- In the US, app developers charge from $50 to $250 an hour.
- In Australia, the rates are slightly lower and range from $50 to $150.
- Developers in Western Europe and the UK provide their services at $35 to $170 per hour.
- Eastern European developers charge $20 to $150 per hour.
- Indian companies charge from $10 to $80 an hour.
- Anadea rates start with $35 per hour.
With the Time and Materials model, you enjoy the flexibility to make improvements to your app along the way. You can prioritize certain tasks for your developers and decide which features to postpone so that your mental health app goes to market sooner. On average, the development of a mental health app from start to finish will cost around $30,000. Very often, the MVP costs much lower.
Good mental health is absolutely fundamental to overall health and well-being. COVID-19 has interrupted essential mental health services around the world, but it’s never been a better time to invest more in life-saving mental health applications. If you overcome the concerns are the lack of privacy, misuse of personal data, and providing inappropriate advice, then your app will rightfully enjoy great success.