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Journal Description

JMIR Mental Health (JMH, ISSN 2368-7959, Editor-in-Chief: John Torous MD MBI, Impact Factor: 3.54) is a premier SCI/PubMed/Scopus-indexed, peer-reviewed journal which has a unique focus on digital health/digital psychiatry/digital psychology/e-mental health, covering Internet/mobile interventions, technologies and electronic innovations (software and hardware) for mental health, including addictions, online counselling and behaviour change. This includes formative evaluation and system descriptions, theoretical papers, review papers, viewpoint/vision papers, and rigorous evaluations related to digital psychiatry, e-mental health, and clinical informatics in psychiatry/psychology. In June 2020, JMH received an inaugural impact factor of 3.54. 


 The main themes/topics covered by this journal can be found here.


JMIR Mental Health has an international author- and readership and welcomes submissions from around the world.

JMIR Mental Health features a rapid and thorough peer-review process, professional copyediting, professional production of PDF, XHTML, and XML proofs.

The journal is indexed in PubMed, PubMed CentralSCIE (Science Citation Index Expanded)/WoS/JCR (Journal Citation Reports), and Scopus.


Recent Articles:

  • Source: Pexels; Copyright: Matilda Wormwood; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Health Care Providers’ Perceptions of Quality, Acceptance, and Satisfaction With Telebehavioral Health Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Survey-Based...


    Background: Due to rapidly increasing rates of COVID-19 across the country, system-wide changes were needed to protect the health and safety of health care providers and consumers alike. Technology-based care has received buy-in from all participants, and the need for technological assistance has been prioritized. Objective: The objective of this study was to determine the initial perceptions and experiences of interprofessional behavioral health providers about shifting from traditional face-to-face care to virtual technologies (telephonic and televideo) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: A survey-based study was performed at a large, integrated medical health care system in West-Central Florida that rapidly implemented primary care provision via telephone and televideo as of March 18, 2020. A 23-item anonymous survey based on a 7-point Likert scale was developed to determine health care providers’ perceptions about telephonic and televideo care. The survey took 10 minutes to complete and was administered to 280 professionals between April 27 and May 11, 2020. Results: In all, 170 respondents completed the survey in entirety, among which 78.8% (134/170) of the respondents were female and primarily aged 36-55 years (89/170, 52.4%). A majority of the respondents were outpatient-based providers (159/170, 93.5%), including psychiatrists, therapists, counselors, and advanced practice nurses. Most of them (144/170, 84.7%) had used televideo for less than 1 year; they felt comfortable and satisfied with either telephonic or televideo mode and that they were able to meet the patients’ needs. Conclusions: Our survey findings suggest that health care providers valued televideo visits equally or preferred them more than telephonic visits in the domains of quality of care, technology performance, satisfaction of technology, and user acceptance.

  • Source: freepik; Copyright: prostooleh; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Measuring COVID-19 Related Anxiety in Parents: Psychometric Comparison of Four Different Inventories


    Background: The COVID-19 outbreak and the measures to contain the global pandemic can have an impact on the well-being and mental health status of individuals. Parents of young children are particularly at risk for high levels of parental stress due to the current public health crisis, which can impact parenting behaviors and children’s well-being. Although different initial scales have been developed to measure COVID-19–related anxiety, they have not yet been tested sufficiently in parent samples. A brief measure of COVID-19–related anxiety is necessary for both quick assessment in practice and in larger epidemiological studies of parents. Objective: The purpose of this study is to compare the distributions, validities, and reliabilities of four different COVID-19 anxiety scales: Fear of COVID-19 Scale, Coronavirus Anxiety Scale, Pandemic Anxiety Scale, and one subscale of the COVID Stress Scales. Based on the psychometric properties of these scales, we aim to provide recommendations for a brief unidimensional inventory to assess COVID-19–related anxiety among parents. Methods: A cross-sectional web-based survey of 515 German-speaking parents (465 mothers, 90.3%) with at least one child aged 0-6 years was conducted during a 6-week period (June 29 to August 9, 2020). Half of the parents were recruited via Facebook parenting groups, while the other half were recruited through childcare centers. We psychometrically tested 25 items on COVID-19–related anxiety using the framework of classical test theory, including item analysis, correlational analysis of family variables, and exploratory factor analysis. Moreover, an item response theory approach was applied to estimate item discriminations and item difficulties. Results: Based on the psychometric properties, three items of the Pandemic Anxiety Scale were identified as a single unidimensional factor. The adapted scale demonstrated acceptable internal consistency (α=.79), moderate to high item discrimination, strong positive intercorrelation with two other COVID-19 anxiety scales, and a small positive association with parenting stress. Mothers and fathers did not differ in total scores (t513=−0.79, P=.42). Conclusions: Factor analysis suggests that existing COVID-19–related anxiety scales measure different latent constructs of anxiety. Furthermore, all scales showed only small to moderate correlations with trait health anxiety, suggesting that COVID-19–related anxiety is distinct from general health anxiety. The adapted “disease anxiety” subscale of the Pandemic Anxiety Scale is an economical measure for assessing COVID-19–related anxiety in parents. Directions for future research are outlined.

  • Meditation at home during social isolation. Source: The Authors; Copyright: Silvia Francesca Maria Pizzoli; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Web-Based Relaxation Intervention for Stress During Social Isolation: Randomized Controlled Trial


    Background: Relaxation practices might be helpful exercises for coping with anxiety and stressful sensations. They may be of particular utility when used in web-based interventions during periods of social isolation. Objective: This randomized study aimed to test whether web-based relaxation practices like natural sounds, deep respiration, and body scans can promote relaxation and a positive emotional state, and reduce psychomotor activation and preoccupation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: Participants were randomly assigned to one of three experimental conditions. Each condition was characterized by a single online session of a guided square breathing exercise, a guided body scan exercise, or natural sounds. The participants listened to one of the fully automated audio clips for 7 minutes and pre-post completed self-assessed scales on perceived relaxation, psychomotor activation, level of preoccupation associated with COVID-19, and emotional state. At the end of the session, qualitative reports on subjective experience were also collected. Results: Overall, 294 participants completed 75% of the survey and 240 completed the entire survey as well as one of three randomly assigned interventions. Perceived relaxation, psychomotor activation/stress, and preoccupation related to COVID-19 showed a positive improvement after participants listened to the audio clips. The same pattern was observed for the valence and perceived dominance of the emotional state. The square breathing and body scan exercises yielded superior results compared to natural sounds in lowering perceived stress. Conclusions: This study provides a novel insight that can guide the development of future low-cost web-based interventions to reduce preoccupation and stress in the general population.

  • The TOC/featured image for this manuscript. Source:; Copyright: pxhere; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Visual and Personalized Quality of Life Assessment App for People With Severe Mental Health Problems: Qualitative Evaluation


    Background: QoL-ME is a digital visual personalized quality of life assessment app for people with severe mental health problems. Research reveals that e-mental health apps frequently suffer from low engagement and fall short of expectations regarding their impact on patients’ daily lives. Studies often indicate that e-mental health apps ought to respect the needs and preferences of end users to achieve optimal user engagement. Objective: The aim of this study was to explore the experiences of users regarding the usability and functionality of QoL-ME and whether the app is actionable and beneficial for patients. Methods: End users (n=8) of QoL-ME contributed to semistructured interviews. An interview guide was used to direct the interviews. All interviews were audiorecorded and transcribed verbatim. Transcriptions were analyzed and coded thematically. Results: Analysis revealed 3 main themes: (1) benefit, (2) actionability, and (3) characteristics of the QoL-ME. The first theme reveals that the QoL-ME app was beneficial for the majority of respondents, primarily by prompting them to reflect on their quality of life. The current version is not yet actionable; the actionability of the QoL-ME app may be improved by enabling users to view their scores over time and by supplying practical advice for quality of life improvements. Overall, participants had positive experiences with the usability, design, and content of the app. Conclusions: The QoL-ME app can be beneficial to users as it provides them with insight into their quality of life and elicits reflection. Incorporating more functionalities that facilitate self-management, such as advice and strategies for improving areas that are lacking, will likely make the app actionable. Patients positively regarded the usability, design, and contents of the QoL-ME app.

  • Source: freepik; Copyright: Racool_studio; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Association Between LGB Sexual Orientation and Depression Mediated by Negative Social Media Experiences: National Survey Study of US Young Adults


    Background: Lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) persons are disproportionately affected by depression and have high social media use rates. Negative social media experiences may modify depressive symptoms among LGB persons. We sought to assess the potential influence of negative social media experiences on the association between LGB orientation and depression. Objective: The aim of this study was to assess the potential influence of negative social media experiences on the association between LGB orientation and depression. Methods: We performed a web-based survey of a national sample of US young adults aged 18-30 years. We assessed the respondents’ LGB orientation, negative social media experiences, and depression using the 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire. We used generalized structural equation modeling to assess both the direct and indirect effects (via negative social media experiences) of LGB orientation on depression while controlling for relevant demographic and personal characteristics. Results: We found a conditional indirect effect (ab path) of LGB orientation on depressive symptoms via negative social media experience (a: observed coefficient 0.229; P<.001; bias-corrected bootstrapped 95% CI 0.162-0.319, and b: observed coefficient 2.158; P<.001; bias-corrected bootstrapped 95% CI 1.840-2.494). The results show that among LGB respondents, for those who reported negative social media experiences in the past year, a 1 unit increase in these experiences was associated with a 0.494 unit increase in depressive symptomatology. Conclusions: Our results suggest that higher rates of depression among LGB young adults are partially explained by negative social media experiences; these results could help inform future patient/provider conversations about mental health risk and protective factors related to social media use. Reducing these experiences and increasing positive social media experiences among LGB persons may mitigate depressive symptomatology in this population.

  • Source: Image created by the Authors; Copyright: The Authors; URL:; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Mobile-Assisted Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Negative Symptoms: Open Single-Arm Trial With Schizophrenia Patients


    Background: Negative symptoms are an important unmet treatment need for schizophrenia. This study is a preliminary, open, single-arm trial of a novel hybrid intervention called mobile-assisted cognitive behavioral therapy for negative symptoms (mCBTn). Objective: The primary aim was to test whether mCBTn was feasible and could reduce severity of the target mechanism, defeatist performance attitudes, which are associated with experiential negative symptoms and poor functioning in schizophrenia. Methods: Participants with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder (N=31) who met prospective criteria for persistent negative symptoms were enrolled. The blended intervention combines weekly in-person group therapy with a smartphone app called CBT2go. The app extended therapy group skills, including recovery goal setting, thought challenging, scheduling of pleasurable activities and social interactions, and pleasure-savoring interventions to modify defeatist attitudes and improve experiential negative symptoms. Results: Retention was excellent (87% at 18 weeks), and severity of defeatist attitudes and experiential negative symptoms declined significantly in the mCBTn intervention with large effect sizes. Conclusions: The findings suggest that mCBTn is a feasible and potentially effective treatment for experiential negative symptoms, if confirmed in a larger randomized controlled trial. The findings also provide support for the defeatist attitude model of experiential negative symptoms and suggest that blended technology-supported interventions such as mCBTn can strengthen and shorten intensive psychosocial interventions for schizophrenia. Trial Registration: NCT03179696;

  • Patient being assisted during digital data entry. Source: iStock; Copyright: Half point; URL:; License: Licensed by the authors.

    Repeated Digitized Assessment of Risk and Symptom Profiles During Inpatient Treatment of Affective Disorder: Observational Study


    Background: Predictive models have revealed promising results for the individual prognosis of treatment response and relapse risk as well as for differential diagnosis in affective disorders. Yet, in order to translate personalized predictive modeling from research contexts to psychiatric clinical routine, standardized collection of information of sufficient detail and temporal resolution in day-to-day clinical care is needed. Digital collection of self-report measures by patients is a time- and cost-efficient approach to gain such data throughout treatment. Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate whether patients with severe affective disorders were willing and able to participate in such efforts, whether the feasibility of such systems might vary depending on individual patient characteristics, and if digitally acquired assessments were of sufficient diagnostic validity. Methods: We implemented a system for longitudinal digital collection of risk and symptom profiles based on repeated self-reports via tablet computers throughout inpatient treatment of affective disorders at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Münster. Tablet-handling competency and the speed of data entry were assessed. Depression severity was additionally assessed by a clinical interviewer at baseline and before discharge. Results: Of 364 affective disorder patients who were approached, 242 (66.5%) participated in the study; 88.8% of participants (215/242) were diagnosed with major depressive disorder, and 27 (11.2%) had bipolar disorder. During the duration of inpatient treatment, 79% of expected assessments were completed, with an average of 4 completed assessments per participant; 4 participants (4/242, 1.6%) dropped out of the study prematurely. During data entry, 89.3% of participants (216/242) did not require additional support. Needing support with tablet handling and slower data entry pace were predicted by older age, whereas depression severity at baseline did not influence these measures. Patient self-reporting of depression severity showed high agreement with standardized external assessments by a clinical interviewer. Conclusions: Our results indicate that digital collection of self-report measures is a feasible, accessible, and valid method for longitudinal data collection in psychiatric routine, which will eventually facilitate the identification of individual risk and resilience factors for affective disorders and pave the way toward personalized psychiatric care.

  • Source: Unsplash; Copyright: Meghan Schiereck; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Usage and Acceptability of the iBobbly App: Pilot Trial for Suicide Prevention in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Youth


    Background: The proliferation of mental health apps purporting to target and improve psychological wellbeing is ever-growing and also concerning: Few apps have been rigorously evaluated, and, indeed, the safety of the vast majority of them has not been determined. Over 10,000 self-help apps exist but most are not used much after being downloaded. Gathering and analyzing usage data and the acceptability of apps are critical to inform consumers, researchers, and app developers. Objective: This paper presents pilot usage and acceptability data from the iBobbly suicide prevention app, an app distributed through a randomized controlled trial. Methods: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participants from the Kimberley region of Western Australia completed a survey measuring their technology use in general (n=13), and data on their experiences with and views of the iBobbly app were also collected in semistructured interviews (n=13) and thematically analyzed. Finally, engagement with the app, such as the number of sessions completed and time spent on various acceptance-based therapeutic activities, was analyzed (n=18). Both groups were participants in the iBobbly app pilot randomized controlled trial (n=61) completed in 2015. Results: Regression analysis indicated that app use improved psychological outcomes, although only minimally, and effects were not significant. However, results of the thematic analysis indicated that the iBobbly app was deemed effective, acceptable, and culturally appropriate by those interviewed. Conclusions: There is a scarcity of randomized controlled trials and eHealth interventions in Indigenous communities, while extremely high rates of psychological distress and suicide persist. In this environment, studies that can add evidence from mixed-methods approaches are important. While the regression analysis in this study did not indicate a significant effect of app use on psychological wellbeing, this was predictable considering the small sample size (n=18) and typically brief app use. The results on engagement with the iBobbly app were however positive. This study showed that Indigenous youth are early and frequent users of technology in general, and they regarded the iBobbly app to be culturally safe and of therapeutic value. Qualitative analyses demonstrated that iBobbly app use was associated with self-reported improvements in psychological wellbeing, mental health literacy, and reductions in shame. Importantly, participants reported that they would recommend other similar apps if available to their peers.

  • Source: Pexels; Copyright: Andrea Piacquadio; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Health Care Management Models for the Evolution of Hospitalization in Acute Inpatient Psychiatry Units: Comparative Quantitative Study


    Background: Mental health disorders are a problem that affects patients, their families, and the professionals who treat them. Hospital admissions play an important role in caring for people with these diseases due to their effect on quality of life and the high associated costs. In Spain, at the Healthcare Complex of Zamora, a new disease management model is being implemented, consisting of not admitting patients with mental diseases to the hospital. Instead, they are supervised in sheltered apartments or centers for patients with these types of disorders. Objective: The main goal of this research is to evaluate the evolution of hospital days of stay of patients with mental disorders in different hospitals in a region of Spain, to analyze the impact of the new hospital management model. Methods: For the development of this study, a database of patients with mental disorders was used, taking into account the acute inpatient psychiatry unit of 11 hospitals in a region of Spain. SPSS Statistics for Windows, version 23.0 (IBM Corp), was used to calculate statistical values related to hospital days of stay of patients. The data included are from the periods of 2005-2011 and 2012-2015. Results: After analyzing the results, regarding the days of stay in the different health care complexes for the period between 2005 and 2015, we observed that since 2012 at the Healthcare Complex of Zamora, the total number of days of stay were reduced by 64.69%. This trend is due to the implementation of a new hospital management model in this health complex. Conclusions: With the application of a new hospital management model at the Healthcare Complex of Zamora, the number of days of stay of patients with mental diseases as well as the associated hospital costs were considerably reduced.

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    Testing the Efficacy of a Multicomponent, Self-Guided, Smartphone-Based Meditation App: Three-Armed Randomized Controlled Trial


    Background: A growing number of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) suggest psychological benefits associated with meditation training delivered via mobile health. However, research in this area has primarily focused on mindfulness, only one of many meditative techniques. Objective: This study aims to evaluate the efficacy of 2 versions of a self-guided, smartphone-based meditation app—the Healthy Minds Program (HMP)—which includes training in mindfulness (Awareness), along with practices designed to cultivate positive relationships (Connection) or insight into the nature of the self (Insight). Methods: A three-arm, fully remote RCT compared 8 weeks of one of 2 HMP conditions (Awareness+Connection and Awareness+Insight) with a waitlist control. Adults (≥18 years) without extensive previous meditation experience were eligible. The primary outcome was psychological distress (depression, anxiety, and stress). Secondary outcomes were social connection, empathy, compassion, self-reflection, insight, rumination, defusion, and mindfulness. Measures were completed at pretest, midtreatment, and posttest between October 2019 and April 2020. Longitudinal data were analyzed using intention-to-treat principles with maximum likelihood. Results: A total of 343 participants were randomized and 186 (54.2%) completed at least one posttest assessment. The majority (166/228, 72.8%) of those assigned to HMP conditions downloaded the app. The 2 HMP conditions did not differ from one another in terms of changes in any outcome. Relative to the waitlist control, the HMP conditions showed larger improvements in distress, social connectedness, mindfulness, and measures theoretically linked to insight training (d=–0.28 to 0.41; Ps≤.02), despite modest exposure to connection- and insight-related practice. The results were robust to some assumptions about nonrandom patterns of missing data. Improvements in distress were associated with days of use. Candidate mediators (social connection, insight, rumination, defusion, and mindfulness) and moderators (baseline rumination, defusion, and empathy) of changes in distress were identified. Conclusions: This study provides initial evidence of efficacy for the HMP app in reducing distress and improving outcomes related to well-being, including social connectedness. Future studies should attempt to increase study retention and user engagement. Trial Registration: NCT04139005;

  • Source: Adobe Stock; Copyright: Photo Diego Cervo from Adobe Stock; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    The Reach, Use, and Impact of a Free mHealth Mindfulness App in the General Population: Mobile Data Analysis


    Background: As smartphones are now used by most Americans, it is increasingly possible for mental health mobile apps to be disseminated to the general public. However, little is known about how mobile mental health apps are used by the general population outside of a controlled research design. Objective: Our objective is to describe how the general population engages with Mindfulness Coach, an iOS- and Android-based app designed to deliver a mindfulness training course. Methods: Using anonymous download and analytics data, we characterized the reach, usage, retention, and impact of Mindfulness Coach. We included mobile analytics data from all unique downloads of Mindfulness Coach between August 1, 2018, and April 8, 2019 (N=104,067) as well as starred reviews from all Mindfulness Coach users who provided reviews of the app as of March 1, 2020. Mindfulness characteristics were measured by an in-app assessment using the Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire–Short Form (FFMQ-SF). Results: Users engaged, on average, in 4.3 visits to the app (SD 8.8; median 2; 90th percentile 8) and associated with an average total of 49.2 interactions with the app (ie, clicks within the app) (SD 113.8; median 19; 90th percentile 105). Users spent an average of 16.2 minutes (SD 63.1) engaged with the app over the full study time period. There were strong linear effects of app engagement on total FFMQ-SF scores. For example, FFMQ-SF scores were associated with more time spent engaged with the app (R2=.23; P<.001). Mindfulness Coach has been reviewed in the Google Play Store 3415 times, with an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars, and over 2000 times in the Apple App Store, with an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars. Conclusions: These findings suggest that Mindfulness Coach has achieved substantial and sustained reach in the general population; however, it was used less frequently by many downloaders than researchers and designers intended. There was a subpopulation of users who engaged in the app regularly over an extended period of time, and there was a clear relationship between app use and improvements in mindfulness. To strengthen Mindfulness Coach’s public health impact, more research is needed to understand who is using the app and how, and to design strategies to increase user engagement in order for users to receive a larger dose of mindfulness treatment.

  • A vintage family photo of a woman and child. Source: Unsplash; Copyright: Lindy Baker; URL:; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Ancestry Testing in Clinical Encounters: Perspectives From Psychotherapy Cases


    Despite the fact that direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic ancestry testing (GAT) has been available for two decades, there is a lack of evidence-based guidance for clinicians who may work with patients who raise the topic of DTC-GAT. Although DTC-GAT accounts for the majority of the DTC genetic testing marketplace, it has received less attention than health-related testing from scientific and clinical communities. Importantly, however, from our personal experience, patients have been raising the topic of DTC-GAT in clinical encounters, including psychotherapy sessions. In this viewpoint, we present two cases of patients seen by two of the authors to raise awareness of this issue. We describe the implications of DTC-GAT for patients and clinicians, offer recommendations, and suggest future directions.

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