Engagement in mobile phone app for self-monitoring of emotional wellbeing predicts changes in mental health: MoodPrism

J Affect Disord. 2018 Feb:227:432-442. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2017.11.016. Epub 2017 Nov 9.


Background: Mobile apps are being used increasingly for mental health purposes, but evidence of their efficacy remains limited. The mechanisms underlying any effects of such apps are also unclear. This study examined the effectiveness of a self-monitoring mobile phone app by investigating the relationships between app engagement and mental health outcomes.

Method: Participants downloaded the MoodPrism app from the iOS and Android app stores, completing in-app assessments at start of use and again 30days later. The app prompted participants daily to complete a short mood questionnaire and formulated their responses into a mood diary. Data from 234 assessment completers (73% female; M age = 34.8 years) were analysed via hierarchical and mediation regressions.

Results: In this community sample, app engagement ratings predicted decreases in depression and anxiety, and increases in mental well-being. These effects were mediated by increases in emotional self-awareness, but only for participants who were clinically depressed or anxious at the time of the baseline assessment. Mental health literacy and coping self-efficacy did not play mediating roles.

Limitations: Findings suggest that other influential mediators may have not been measured, and future studies could verify the findings by using alternative methodologies, such as comparison with a control group.

Conclusions: Engaging with an emotional wellbeing self-monitoring app may reduce depressive and anxious symptoms, and increase mental well-being. Increases in emotional self-awareness may mediate these changes in clinical populations, and further research is needed to reveal other mechanisms that mental health apps can utilize.

Keywords: Anxiety; Computer/Internet Technology; Depression; Emotional self-awareness; Mobile; Self-monitoring.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy*
  • Awareness*
  • Cell Phone*
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mobile Applications*
  • Psychometrics
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Self Care / methods*
  • Self Care / psychology
  • Software
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Therapy, Computer-Assisted*
  • Young Adult