CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- We can do just about everything on our phones nowadays. So, why not turn to them for therapy?

  • There are about 20,000 mental health apps
  • There is one that is approved by the FDA
  • Experts say it could be hard for users to determine the apps' credibility 

"I think those apps are very popular for people on the go," said Kaleidiscope Counseling Therapist Nedra Tawwabi.

Convenience is key, but for people who don't live near or are fearful to go to a therapist, using an app is an easy alternative.

"I think it's a great way for individuals, particularly those living with a mental health condition, to track their symptoms, to track their medication, to track lifestyle changes so they have a way when they meet with their clinician or their doctor to talk about here are the things I have experienced," said Mental Health America of Central Carolinas Education Coordinator Ericka Ellis-Stewart.

A quick look in the app store and there are apps focused on everything from meditation to anxiety to depression. It can be hard to know which ones are providing good versus bad advice.

"There's about 10 to 20,000 mental health apps. There's one that's approved by the FDA," said Psyberguide Executive Director Stephen Schueller. The online database researches the apps.

"There's not a lot of regulation going on right now," Schueller said.

He says there are just too many apps. He says iTunes and other app stores don't review the apps on their content, so it's hard to know if they work and can be trusted.

It's why Psyberguide grades the apps on their credibility, user experience and transparency.  Psyberguide has reviewed about 250 of the mental health apps.

"There are a couple clear examples of apps providing bad advice that could potentially be harmful for people," Schueller said. "People might download and try an app, not get better and not seek further care."

It's why therapists like Tawwabi say the apps are good for forms of meditation, but it's hard to be a substitute for a therapist.

"If you have long term issues, is that something you would want to take on with an app or something you want to build on with a therapist?" Tawwabi said.

It's why Tawwabi says if you are going to turn to your phone for care, do your homework, and know who you're getting advice from.