INDIANAPOLIS — As Americans continue to place more importance on our mental health, it’s not surprising that mental health apps continue to gain popularity.
However, a new report finds some of the most popular mental health apps are lacking when it comes to protecting users’ privacy.
The Mozilla Foundation recently studied nearly 40 of the top apps used for mental health and wellness.
The results weren’t good.
Overall, 59% of the most popular apps received a “Privacy Not Included” label. One app called Cerebral installs nearly 800 trackers on a user’s phone within a minute of downloading it, according to the study. Others Like Talkspace, Happify, and BetterHelp push users into doing a questionnaire without asking permission or laying out privacy policies first.
The Mozilla Foundation also expressed concern about the use of artificial intelligence (AI). Researchers actually called some of the apps “creepy” for behaving as if they wanted to cozy up to users a little too much. Apps including Replika: My AI Friend received one of Mozilla’s worst privacy ratings. Pride Counseling, Pray, Better Stop Suicide and others also received “creepy” ratings by users.
Some apps fared better. Calm, PTSD Coach, Hallow and Sesame Street’s Breathe, Think, Do got better ratings.
The goal of the study is to get app developers to work on these issues and improve their privacy policies so users can enjoy their benefits without worrying about compromising their sensitive information. In the meantime, you can check out the study here and decide which apps best suit your needs.