Mobile mental health: review of the emerging field and proof of concept study

J Ment Health. 2011 Dec;20(6):509-24. doi: 10.3109/09638237.2011.608746. Epub 2011 Oct 11.


Background: The ubiquitous nature of mobile phones and their increasing functionality make them an ideal medium for the delivery of large-scale public health information and interventions. While mobile phones have been used to this end in behavioural and physical health settings, their role in monitoring and managing mental health is in its infancy.

Aims: The purpose of this paper is (1) to provide an overview of the field of mobile mental health and (2) by way of illustration, describe an initial proof of concept study carried out to assess the potential utility and effectiveness of a newly developed mobile phone and web-based program in the management of mild-to-moderate stress, anxiety and depression.

Methods: Over 6 weeks, participants were given access to "myCompass": an interactive self-help program, which includes real-time self-monitoring with short message service prompts and brief online modules grounded in cognitive behavioural therapy.

Results: Preliminary analyses found that participants' symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression and overall psychological distress were significantly reduced after using myCompass. Improvements were also found in functional impairment and self-efficacy.

Conclusions: These preliminary results support the feasibility of implementing mobile phone-based interventions with the potential of improving psychological wellbeing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / therapy
  • Cell Phone*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods
  • Depression / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Mental Health Services*
  • Patient Compliance
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires