Health Tech

Study On Teen Mental Health App Shows High Engagement, Positive Impact

A study on BeMe Health, a behavioral health platform for teens, found that users engaged with the platform eight times on average over a month. The study was done in collaboration with Stanford University.

A new study on BeMe Health, a behavioral health platform for teens, found that the app has high engagement and that users report it’s helpful for their mental health.

Miami-based BeMe Health offers skill-building activities to support mental health, as well as one-on-one coaching, clinical services and 24/7 crisis support. It was built with the help of an advisory board made up of 131 teens, who provide feedback on the platform. BeMe Health works with health plans, employers and community organizations.

The study on BeMe Health was conducted in collaboration with Stanford University and was published Monday in the Journal of Medical Internet Research mHealth and uHealth. It examined app engagement, feature use, clinical functioning and satisfaction with the app over 30 days for more than 13,000 users.

It found that when joining the app, 85% of users had a positive screen for depression and 78% had a positive screen for anxiety (based on the PHQ-8 and GAD-7, which are common evaluations for depression and anxiety, respectively). Participants used BeMe about eight times on average over a month. About 91% of the users engaged with the app’s content on topics including cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy. Another 75% engaged with BeMe’s interactive activities and about a fifth engaged with its coaching, clinical services and crisis support.

“Innovative solutions that are accessible, engaging, and responsive are needed to address the mental health needs of teens today,” said Dr. Judith Prochaska, lead investigator of the study and a professor in the Department of Medicine at Stanford University with the Stanford Prevention Research Center, in a statement. “Our initial findings demonstrate that a large number of teens engaged with the BeMe platform, including its content, mood assessments, interactive skills, and live coaching. Digital tools such as BeMe have the potential to substantially enhance access to mental health support for young people.”

In addition, about 83% of users said the app’s content improved hope, 84% said it improved self-esteem and 92% said it improved their confidence to use coping skills. Another 84% said the coaching was helpful and useful for dealing with stress. About 73% said the interactive activities helped them cope with big feelings.

Female users and younger teens (aged 13 to 14 years) especially engaged with the app, the study also found.

“The finding around female teens was not surprising because it’s very typical that those who identify as female engage more in any platform that’s geared toward mental health and wellbeing,” said Dr. Danielle Ramo, BeMe’s chief clinical officer and co-investigator of the study, in an interview. “But around younger adolescents, that was interesting and not necessarily expected. It was also nice to see because the transition to middle school and the middle school years is a time when — especially for girls — a lot of mental health challenges first start to arise.”

The findings come when about half of adolescents have had a mental health disorder at some point in their lives.

While this study mostly tracked user engagement, BeMe Health is planning another study that will track patients’ clinical improvements over time using the PHQ-8 assessment and the GAD-7 assessment.

Other digital mental health companies include Headspace and Big Health, but these companies support patients of various age groups (including teens) while BeMe solely supports teens.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated to clarify information about competitors.

Photo: SIphotography, Getty Images