Finding an App That’ll Work for You: Building the PsyberGuide Community
Dr. Schueller is the Executive Director of PsyberGuide and an Assistant Professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. He is a faculty member of Northwestern’s Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies (CBITs) and his work focuses on increasing the accessibility and availability of mental health resources through technology.
It is with great pleasure that I write the first Director’s Blog for PsyberGuide. PsyberGuide aims to be the leading source of unbiased information regarding technologies intended to address mental disorders – e.g., depression, anxiety, bipolar, and schizophrenia – and to promote mental health. This is hardly an easy task. The number of mHealth apps exceeds 165,000 with estimates that roughly 12,000 of those are targeted towards mental health and wellness. Very few of these apps have been subjected to rigorous scientific evaluation, and those that have don’t often persist in the app stores. As a consumer sorting through these apps and separating the good from the bad is a nearly impossible task. As such, resources like PsyberGuide have an important role to play in ensuring that people can find the apps that might be the most beneficial for them and understanding what role those apps can play on each person’s own road to recovery. An important goal of mine with PsyberGuide is to continue to grow the number of products and reviews listed on this website. I encourage you to keep coming back to PsyberGuide to see what new apps we’ve identified and the ratings and expert reviews associated with those apps. If there’s an app you’ve found that’s been particularly useful, please let us know which app it is and why and how you’ve found it useful.
This relates to another critical point. It is unlikely that there is one app to rule them all, or said differently that any app will work for all people. The struggles that people encounter with mental health can often be deeply personal. And although our destinations might be the same – finding happiness, meaning, and purpose; building positive relationships; and achieving our goals and dreams – the roads we take to reach those destinations might differ. To better understand these differences, however, we need to hear from the people using these apps in their lives, we need to hear from you. Another goal for PsyberGuide is to connect the communities of interest – consumers, professionals, researchers. In the past, we’ve done this by providing experts ratings and reviews of available mental health apps. We’d also like to learn from your expertise and experience with these tools. We’d love to have more information from people who use mental health apps about which ones are useful and why. Currently in the product guide you can provide some of this information: how likely you would be to recommend the app to others, how effective the app was in helping with problems, how easy to use and engaging the app is. We’d like to make more use of this information to help point us towards the most popular, useful, and engaging apps. We’d also like to expand this information, to better design PsyberGuide to collect the information needed to not just provide scores of products, but to start to make recommendations to guide you towards what might be useful apps for you.
None of this can happen without you. I am excited to lead PsyberGuide because I truly believe that technology and digital resources have a critical, yet unrealized, role to play in mental healthcare. I believe that technology and digital resources have the potential to ensure that all people who need mental health resources will have access to them and that those who might prefer technology or digital resources for a variety of different resources will be empowered to find ones that are high-quality and effective. These Director’s Blogs will give me one avenue to communicate with the PsyberGuide community. But we’ll also find other ways to connect. For example, through emails, newsletters, social media, and events. We’ll also engage the community of experts using guest blogs which will alternate with the blogs I write myself. Again, PsyberGuide will be a resource where multiple voices come together to identify the state-of-the-art advances in mental health and technology. This is an exciting partnership, and I’m extremely curious to see where we go together.