If Apps Aren’t Your Thing, Perhaps Treatment by Text Is

person text messagingFor many people experiencing mental health issues, mental health apps are the closest they get to a therapist’s office. Such apps offer self-directed assistance with common mental health issues, and some users report incredible changes. Hazelden’s Twenty-Four Hours a Day, for instance, aims to help people recovering from addiction survive the journey to sobriety, and iCouch CBT allows iPhone users to practice cognitive behavioral therapy techniques at home.

According to a new Clemson University study published in Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, mental health apps aren’t the only way mobile technology can improve mental health. In fact, texting may be a superior option because phone users may be more likely to text than to download apps.

Texting Your Way to Better Mental Health

Researchers surveyed 325 people receiving mental health treatment at community-based clinics. They found that cell phone ownership among this group was similar to the national average, but that more people with mental health issues shared their phones with another person. Researchers asked the participants questions about how they used their phones, finding that texting was the most popular phone feature, with 80% of respondents using text messages. Apps, by contrast, were the least popular phone feature.

When asked how they felt about texting a mental health provider, participants responded that they’d be comfortable doing so. Kelly Caine, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor at Clemson’s School of Computing, argues that these results suggest that texting may be a more viable option for delivering mental health services. Around 62% of people with a mental health issue don’t receive treatment, but the ready availability of text messaging could offer a new treatment option. Caine suggests that more research could point toward specific uses for texting in the context of mental health care.

Getting Help Via Text

A number of organizations have already begun offering crisis care via text message. If you’re in crisis, you might want to consider one of the following options:

  • Text “safe” to 69866 to get help from Safe Place, an organization that helps runaway youth.
  • Text “start” to 741741 to get assistance for a variety of mental health issues from Crisis Text Line, which serves primarily teens.
  • Get sexual assault support from Safe Helpline by texting to 55247.
  • Text “loveis” to 22522 to get help from the National Domestic Violence Hotline.


Study finds texting may be more suitable than apps in treatment of mental illness. (2015, February 2). Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/288753.php

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  • Leave a Comment
  • jess


    February 4th, 2015 at 3:42 AM


    A way to talk with professionals and others feeling the same things that you do without ever having to leave your home or drive somewhere that could be too far away fro you to make the trip.

  • K. Michelle Tapia

    K. Michelle Tapia

    February 4th, 2015 at 9:10 AM

    Yes. I have some clients who benefit from texting services. I am so glad treatment is catching up with technology!

  • Jason


    February 4th, 2015 at 11:01 AM

    for many people the thought of talking with someone face to face can be frightening, and an app… well, that might be a little too detached. I think that texting could be that perfect compromise for many people who are seeking out help on a professional level but for whatever reason may feel disengaged in doing it another way. I think that the more options that we have available for people to get help, then the better off we all will be. Make it accessible, make it affordable, and make it something that will attract people instead of turning them away.

  • callandra


    February 5th, 2015 at 11:53 AM

    eek! Am I the only person who finds this a little too impersonal for therapy?

  • Lizette


    February 6th, 2015 at 3:49 AM

    The more options that there are available then the greater the chances are that you will discover a version of therapy that works for you
    So what if it isn’t the traditional model… who says that everyone even wants to be traditional anyway?

  • Tara


    February 8th, 2015 at 4:43 AM

    This is something that I would definitely be open to!

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