Emerging mHealth and eHealth interventions for serious mental illness: a review of the literature

J Ment Health. 2015;24(5):321-32. doi: 10.3109/09638237.2015.1019054. Epub 2015 May 28.


Background: Serious mental illness (SMI) is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. Emerging mobile health (mHealth) and eHealth interventions may afford opportunities for reaching this at-risk group.

Aim: To review the evidence on using emerging mHealth and eHealth technologies among people with SMI.

Methods: We searched MEDLINE, PsychINFO, CINAHL, Scopus, Cochrane Central, and Web of Science through July 2014. Only studies which reported outcomes for mHealth or eHealth interventions, defined as remotely delivered using mobile, online, or other devices, targeting people with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or bipolar disorder, were included.

Results: Forty-six studies spanning 12 countries were included. Interventions were grouped into four categories: (1) illness self-management and relapse prevention; (2) promoting adherence to medications and/or treatment; (3) psychoeducation, supporting recovery, and promoting health and wellness; and (4) symptom monitoring. The interventions were consistently found to be highly feasible and acceptable, though clinical outcomes were variable but offered insight regarding potential effectiveness.

Conclusions: Our findings confirm the feasibility and acceptability of emerging mHealth and eHealth interventions among people with SMI; however, it is not possible to draw conclusions regarding effectiveness. Further rigorous investigation is warranted to establish effectiveness and cost benefit in this population.

Keywords: eHealth; mHealth; mental health; mobile health; remote technology; serious mental illness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bipolar Disorder / prevention & control
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Medication Adherence
  • Mental Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Mental Health Services / trends*
  • Psychotic Disorders / prevention & control
  • Schizophrenia / prevention & control
  • Telemedicine / statistics & numerical data
  • Telemedicine / trends*