Mental health apps are a booming industry, providing individuals with ways to find treatment from the comfort of their homes. These applications help users journal, meditate, relax, get medication, and talk with licensed professionals. However, some apps have come under scrutiny for their lack of data privacy. This has caused many to wonder, are mental health apps stealing your data? Today, we’ll discuss some of the details behind this concern.
Data Privacy on Self-Help Apps
In a 2022 study by Mozilla, some of the most popular mental health apps on the market were analyzed for their privacy commitments. Of the 32 applications measured, only two displayed strong security measures and privacy policies. The majority of the apps monitored did not have even the basic framework needed for securing user privacy.
But why is this such a concern? Mental health, journaling, and self-help applications record some of the most personal and private data that we have to offer. Stolen or sold, this could put many users in serious danger. Not only does it breach confidentiality boundaries, but having mental health data become publically available can create significant problems for someone personally, socially, and professionally.
Popular applications used for self-help and mental health practices are collecting vast amounts of user data, including location information. Because so much of the language in the privacy policies of these applications is unrestrictive, there’s no telling what they do with user data. In some cases, apps have been known to sell off user information to the highest bidder, which becomes especially concerning when mental health data is involved.
Are Mental Health Apps Stealing Your Data?
Not every application that records user data wants to steal it and sell it off. In some cases, an app can still put a user’s information in jeopardy by not being secure enough. Without enough policies and protections in place, cybersecurity attacks could breach their servers and obtain access to a variety of personal data. These third parties have the ability to obtain private data and sell it or even use it for blackmail, in some cases. The risks of unsecured data are high, which is why it’s so important to ensure that your mental health app keeps your information safe.
Safely Using Mental Health and Self-Help Apps
When it comes to using mental health and self-help apps, keeping yourself safe is a top priority. The data you share on these applications is personal and should only be accessible by you and your mental health professional. That’s why it’s vital to learn how you can safely use these apps. Take a look at the following tips for protecting yourself on mental health applications.
- Never give away identifying information unless necessary
- Avoid using free mental health applications
- Increase your privacy settings when possible
- Use a unique login for your mental health apps
- Add a VPN to your device to protect your location data
Although these applications are created to give you a safe space to record your thoughts or speak with professionals, there are some privacy pitfalls that will hopefully be resolved in the coming years. Until then, the best course of action is to keep yourself safe and ensure that your private data is secure.
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