Young people: online help for mental health problems?

For mental health apps to benefit young people, they need to be appealing, well-known, based on scientific findings and designed with young people in mind. There’s still a long way to go with the digital services that are available today. With young people currently faced with long waiting times to get an appointment to see a psychologist, digital programmes have the potential to play an important bridging role.

The “Potential of digital services for the mental health of young people” qualitative study conducted by Interface on behalf of the Sanitas health insurance foundation found that young people are very willing to use digital services to help with stress, problems sleeping or difficulties concentrating, provided that the offers are trustworthy, appealing, based on scientific findings and free of charge.  The study encompassed focus group discussions with young people, evaluation of expert opinions and findings from current literature.

Can apps help with psychological problems?

Digital services offer easy access to information and low-threshold advice. They also help to bridge waiting times and can be used as an aid to help prevent mental health issues. Despite these benefits, they are yet to gain much traction among young people with mental health problems. The study shows that, to achieve the best results, digital programmes have to be based on scientific findings, used as regularly as possible and offered in combination with personal counselling. However, the findings indicate that young people prefer to use apps as and when needed, for acute mental health problems, and only if they have an appealing design. And they have to be aware of the apps in the first place. And that is one of the problems.

Cooperation across the board

Key requirements have to be met to ensure apps and online offers are more successful, including:


  • Young people have to be involved in the entire app development process
  • Digital services have to be made readily available to young people and, for example, presented in schools or during leisure activities
  • Mental health apps and digital platforms always have to be based on scientific findings and have a proven sender
  • It must be easier to prescribe and bill online help for young people with mental health problems.
Food for thought

How does digitalisation affect solidarity? The Sanitas health insurance foundation presents studies and offers experts and think tanks a platform for debate.


The Sanitas health insurance foundation takes an active part in dialogue. Here you’ll find an overview of events in which the Sanitas foundation has taken part.