No Need for a Mental Health App

by | Jun 21, 2012

Recently USA Today ran an article about a new app called “WhatsMyM3”. This is an app designed to determine if you are at risk for depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder or PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).  It is not based on any medical or scientific testing and is entirely subjective, leading the person straight into the hands of mental health practitioners.
 It has twenty-seven multiple choice questions which actually can be done on its website instead of on the app.  It takes three minutes to answer the questions and test results are instantaneous.   It’s
clearly just a marketing tool to get you to think you have a “mental illness” or will have one soon.

The first nineteen questions address your life for only the past two weeks.   Since nearly anyone goes through rough patches at times, two weeks really isn’t enough time to determine if there’s a mental health problem.  In fact, answers were submitted based on having difficulty dealing
with a work situation which could extend over a two week period until resolved.
One would think those answers wouldn’t indicate any risk but they did. 

Those answers generated a one in three chance of being at risk for depression.  It also claimed a one in nine chance for bipolar disorder which is considered low, but it suggested there’s a fifty percent
chance of suffering from another anxiety disorder!  It then stressed the importance of discussing these results with a doctor or mental health professional even though all that is occurring is a rough time at work.

In another scenario, answers were submitted based on that life was going pretty well.  The resulting score was low risk, but it warned that some people’s symptoms don’t get picked up by this mental health questionnaire, so if any such symptoms do occur, a doctor should be informed.
It encouraged taking the test again at a later date or when mood and anxiety
symptoms do occur.  Clearly the creators of this questionnaire don’t want you to
miss an opportunity to be diagnosed with a “mental illness.”

We all know that there are various kinds of emotion that are appropriate for a situation.  If a loved one dies, of course you are sad.  If someone hits your car unnecessarily, you have a right to be angry.   But this mental health questionnaire wants to advise you that you could be in denial even
when the answers given were based on life going relatively well!  It said to avoid the pitfall of assuming that the way you feel is to be expected considering the circumstances.  Again, it doesn’t want you to miss an opportunity to be diagnosed with a “mental disorder.”

As the article states, there are numbers to track cholesterol, blood pressure and weight, but what about a number that gives an accurate read on your mental health?  Not a chance.  The mental health industry cannot claim to be in the same arena with medical science.  They assert that
mood and anxiety disorders are real medical conditions but they have no scientific tests to prove it.  There is no x-ray, MRI, blood test, urine test or any other legitimate test that gives a number that indicates some sort of mental health condition.  That means there is no validity whatsoever to this
questionnaire as it is based solely on opinion and not medicine.

To look at it from another angle, it does not make sense that one can be evaluated in three minutes for anything.  This is a generic questionnaire with no personal information taken into consideration.  The test doesn’t know anything about you:  your medical history, your diet, your
environment or your relationships.  You don’t even talk to anyone!  So how can it tell you what risk you have to “mental illness?” 

This app is just a way to advertise for mental health services to get you onto treatment.  They want you to buy their sales pitch.  There is a disclaimer that it’s not a diagnostic instrument, but they sure are promoting that all roads lead to “mental illness.”  Of course, once diagnosed, treatment is what follows and that most of the time means dangerous mind-altering psychiatric drugs. 
The article states that no financial or other relationship exists between pharmaceutical companies and those that created WhatsMyM3.  That is hard to believe since pharmaceutical companies routinely subsidize mental health screening programs.   They need customers for their
drugs.  Antidepressants, antipsychotics and other psychiatric drugs make many billions of dollars every year.   Otherwise what is the point of this app? 

Also, there are some similarities between this app and Teen Screen, also a marketing tool that does have financial ties.  TeenScreen is a supposed suicide prevention program aimed at diagnosing teenagers with a “mental disorder” and is funded by pharmaceutical companies.  Teens answer the
survey, are diagnosed with a “mental disorder” and the treatment for the majority of the time is psychiatric drugs.  WhatsMyM3 is aimed at those eighteen and older, but the idea is the same.   

Neither one works.  TeenScreen has yet to prove that it prevents suicides and has no statistics that teen suicide is even on the rise as they claim.  Again, the purpose is to market psychiatric drugs that are actually toxic with horrendous side effects.  Ironically enough, the FDA Black Box
Warning they carry says the drugs may cause an increased risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts.   So how is that help?  Clearly there is no need for a mental health app.


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