The Role of Mobile and Virtual Reality Applications to Support Well-Being: An Expert View and Systematic App Review

in INTERACT 2021, Conference paper (text)


Interactive technologies for autonomous mental health management are on the rise due to limited therapy access and stigma. However, most commercial mental health apps are neither theory-based nor clinically tested, and psychological theories are not easily accessible to app designers. Thus, it remains unclear if current mobile and VR mental health apps meet therapists' expectations. To address this gap, we conducted interviews (N= 11 ) to build an understanding about current therapeutic practices with a focus on emotion regulation and their applicability to mobile apps. We then conducted a systematic app review of 60 mental-health-related mobile and VR apps applying the themes identified in our interviews as an understanding lens. We draw upon the identified discrepancies to pinpoint design implications for better embedding lived therapeutic practice into mental health apps. We contribute by providing a common grounding between therapists and developers on the features and properties of well-being mobile and VR apps.