What is the health of mental health apps?


The Best Technology to Augment Mental Health Services

The impact COVID-19 has on our mental health is expected to last beyond any physical health issues. Fears of stigma mean our key workers are amongst the least likely to engage with traditional mental health services(1).

Digital therapies can achieve comparable outcomes to face-to-face therapy(2), and young men and boys say they would prefer online support, advice and counselling(3). But how do you find the right Digital Health solutions? ORCHA has reviewed 584 mental health apps to find the best.

Today, we share a snapshot of the quality of apps across a wide range of mental health conditions, and Dr Tom Micklewright discusses his views on apps that have scored well in ORCHA’s Review. You can also sign up to our next free webinar to learn how Papyrus, the National charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide, uses apps to support those thinking about suicide.


What is the Health of Mental Health Apps?

Health apps are convenient and discreet, easily accessed with the tap of a button. But, amongst the 3,857 mental health apps available in unregulated app stores(3), which apps are safe?

Our Review Team has assessed apps that help people experiencing anxiety, depression, self-harm, panic attacks, and thinking of suicide. Each app was assessed against more than 260 criteria across Clinical Assurance, Data Privacy, and User Experience. We discovered that only 29.6% meet our quality threshold, and this figure dipped far lower for certain mental health conditions. We also identified gaps, where there are no apps designed to meet specific patient needs.


Dr Micklewright’s Review of Top Apps

There is no one Digital Health technology that works for everyone with a mental health condition. To achieve good results, an app needs to engage and meet specific needs.

In the below video, Dr Tom Micklewright shares his independent views on mental health apps that achieve good ORCHA Scores and are each designed to meet the needs of specific patient groups, including: children, teenagers, students, those with suicidal thoughts, and autistic patients or patients with a learning difficulty.

Free Webinar: Augment Mental Health Services with Digital Health

Wednesday 26th August 2020, 14:00-15:00 BST

Join our free webinar to learn more about how you can build digital health tools into your mental health patient pathway.

Last year, Papyrus introduced an App Library to offer instant, anonymous help to those thinking about suicide. Papyrus staff are extending their services, using the website’s in-built functionality to recommend apps straight to service users’ phones by text or email, where possible. Papyrus will share details of the programme, which apps they frequently share, and where gaps in the mental health app ecosystem still exist.

Learning objectives:

  • Learn how to find assessed digital health tools
  • Learn about the benefits mental health apps offer
  • Learn from Papyrus, the national charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide, as to how the charity uses Digital Health to extend its services

Liz Ashall-Payne, Founding CEO, ORCHA
Kelly Thorpe, Head of Helpline Services, Papyrus


Book your place here


ORCHA is part of the NHS England National Innovation Accelerator Programme. We work with health bodies across the world to unlock the power of Digital Health, including NHS organisations in 50% of regions. Our vision is to revolutionise care through the safe integration of digital health solutions into all aspects of health and care services, leading to more patient-centred, effective care. 

ORCHA provides tailored microsites and prescription services, and helps organisations across the world to integrate health and care apps safely into practice. To find out how ORCHA can help you, please get in touch.



A full list of sources is detailed below our ‘What is the health of mental health apps?’ blog, which can be found here.