At any one time, 12 per cent of the population, or an estimated 110 million people, across the WHO European Region, experience a mental health condition(1). For convenience, confidentiality and functionality, an increasing number of people experiencing mental ill health look to access support online. But with no regulation for the quality of mHealth products, health professionals and consumers find it hard to identify which of today’s 3,857 mental health apps are safe and effective.
The Dutch organisations MIND and De Nederlandse GGZ, supporting 1,000,000 people who have experienced mental health problems, today launch the National Mental Health App Guide ‘www.ggzappwijzer.nl’. This site features only tested and approved mental health apps, with a rigorous Health Technology Assessment at its core, executed by ORCHA.
The Organisation for the Review of Care and Health Apps (ORCHA), screens mental health apps against 260+ points, covering usability, data safety and clinical reliability. This assessment helps the team of ggz-appwijzer to quickly cut through the noise and shortlist apps that achieve a quality threshold to be included in the guide. To date ORCHA has evaluated almost 600 apps and from this, 38 apps have made it onto the guide, being potentially interesting for possible mental health app users within the Netherlands. This number is expected to reach around 50 by the end of this year.
On top of the ORCHA assessment a short-list of these featured apps are investigated further. Under supervision of MIND these apps are tested by a panel of care providers and care givers during two weeks. Structured test reports are made and consolidated into a qualitative and quantitative review of each app. To date 13 apps have been through this process. These apps are given a ‘mindex score’ which adjusts the evaluation score given by ORCHA to also factor in the results given by the test panel.
It is hoped ggz-appwijzer will support people in the Netherlands that experience mental health related problems to find safe and effective mental health apps. Online, it features information about the quality and functionality of each mental health app, for people to make informed choices. This information is also interesting for health providers who would like to give advice to their clients about mental health apps.
Rimmert Brandsma, project leader eHealth MIND said:
“Our guide signposts people through the Dutch ‘jungle’ of apps and other e-health applications that promote mental health. We want to ensure people are better informed about the quality and functionality of apps so they can make a choice from the entire range more easily.”
Tim Andrews, COO, ORCHA added:
“We are working with a number of countries to establish and manage a HTA. The Netherlands is the first region to prioritise and deliver a system within mental health services. This provides huge patient safety and accessibility advantages and we are proud to be part of the solution.”
The realization of the guide is done within the framework of the VIPP-GGZ program and is financed by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport.