Your Mental Health: Online vs. In-Person Help Do Quizzes, Assessments, and Apps Work? In this digital age, it seems reasonable that you should be able to turn to your smartphone for answers about your well being. The world-renowned Cleveland Clinic recently partnered with Oscar for 24/7 video care for their patients. Vets are being offered doctor video chats through one cell carrier. CVS Healthcare offers pharmacist assistance at a one-time $49 fee. However, will this type of treatment work for mental and behavioral health patients? It isn’t entirely clear, as, with most situations, things need to handled on a case-by-case basis. Below are the considerations you should weigh before you engage in a social media quiz, complete an online assessment, or download an app. Six Online Behavioral Health Benefits Online assessments can be a springboard for problem identification and discussions with a mental health provider. The tests are short and anonymous. There are no barriers to use other than a mobile device and internet connectivity. Many quizzes and assessments are free of charge. Online apps, such as Better Help and MindSpot, have been able to treat individuals with depression and anxiety. One study of over 3,800 patients found they were more likely to stick to their treatment plan compared to those who didn’t use online therapies. Apps may be the only option for individuals living in remote or rural communities. Four Problems with Online Behavioral Health Options Online Assessments are only as good as the questions and the tools used to identify the answers. Not all assessments are equal. It’s vital for you to understand who created the evaluation, if it has or has not been part of a clinically validated peer review, and the total number of individuals who have taken the test. Lastly, endorsements by nationally recognized organizations, such as the American Psychological Association or the American Medical Association, can go a long way to building trust with each user. Poorly written quizzes can often stigmatize the very condition the user is trying to diagnose because of the overgeneralization of mental health conditions. There is no disclosure regarding how the quiz or app arrived at the diagnosis, which can lead to more questions than answers. Test takers may measure how they think they appear, rather than the behavior they genuinely exhibit, leading to misleading conclusions. Closing If you decide to take an online assessment, review any privacy disclosure statement before proceeding. You want to ensure your data is protected. Please, remember that only a mental health provider can offer an accurate patient diagnosis. Online help can be a tool for awareness, and even then, it’s biased at its core based on the behavior the user thinks they are exhibiting. Bottom line: For individuals with complex, disabling, and persistent conditions, the evidence is clear -- a team of qualified professionals provides the best care. About Coleman Professional Services We know people can recover if they have access to care. You can call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to initiate a mental health treatment plan. Our experienced and licensed staff serves individuals who are in a crisis, seeking assistance for an emotional or behavioral problem, seeking services for addictions or are living with severe and persistent mental illness. Our services promote recovery and resiliency through the use of evidence-based practices. Please contact us today for more information.