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Did Usage of Mental Health Apps Change during COVID-19? A Comparative Study Based on an Objective Recording of Usage Data and Demographics

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submitted on 2023-05-24, 09:23 and posted on 2023-05-24, 09:48 authored by Maryam Aziz, Aiman Erbad, Mohamed Basel Almourad, Majid Altuwairiqi, John McAlaney

This paper aims to objectively compare the use of mental health apps between the preCOVID-19 and during COVID-19 periods and to study differences amongst the users of these apps based on age and gender. The study utilizes a dataset collected through a smartphone app that objectively records the users’ sessions. The dataset was analyzed to identify users of mental health apps (38 users of mental health apps pre-COVID-19 and 81 users during COVID-19) and to calculate the following usage metrics; the daily average use time, the average session time, the average number of launches, and the number of usage days. The mental health apps were classified into two categories: guidance-based and tracking-based apps. The results include the increased number of users of mental health apps during the COVID-19 period as compared to pre-COVID-19. Adults (aged 24 and above), compared to emerging adults (aged 15–24 years), were found to have a higher usage of overall mental health apps and guidance-based mental health apps. Furthermore, during the COVID-19 pandemic, males were found to be more likely to launch overall mental health apps and guidance-based mental health apps compared to females. The findings from this paper suggest that despite the increased usage of mental health apps amongst males and adults, user engagement with mental health apps remained minimal. This suggests the need for these apps to work towards improved user engagement and retention.

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Published in: Life
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Open Access funding provided by the Qatar National Library



  • English



Publication Year

  • 2022

License statement

This Item is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Institution affiliated with

  • Hamad Bin Khalifa University
  • College of Science and Engineering - HBKU