It Is Time to REACT: Opportunities for Digital Mental Health Apps to Reduce Mental Health Disparities in Racially and Ethnically Minoritized Groups

JMIR Ment Health. 2021 Jan 26;8(1):e25456. doi: 10.2196/25456.


The behavioral health toll of the COVID-19 pandemic and systemic racism has directed increased attention to the potential of digital health as a way of improving access to and quality of behavioral health care. However, as the pandemic continues to widen health disparities in racially and ethnically minoritized groups, concerns arise around an increased reliance on digital health technologies exacerbating the digital divide and reinforcing rather than mitigating systemic health inequities in communities of color. As funding for digital mental health continues to surge, we offer five key recommendations on how the field can "REACT" to ensure the development of approaches that increase health equity by increasing real-world evidence, educating consumers and providers, utilizing adaptive interventions to optimize care, creating for diverse populations, and building trust. Recommendations highlight the need to take a strengths-based view when designing for racially and ethnically diverse populations and embracing the potential of digital approaches to address complex challenges.

Keywords: COVID-19; app; behavior; digital health; disparity; health disparities; mental health; pandemic; public mental health.