Uptake and effectiveness of a self-guided mobile app platform for college student mental health

Emily G. Lattie*, Katherine A. Cohen, Emily Hersch, Kofoworola D.A. Williams, Kaylee Payne Kruzan, Carolyn MacIver, Joseph Hermes, Karen Maddi, Mary Kwasny, David C. Mohr

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: College students endorse high rates of mental health problems. While many colleges offer on-campus services, many students who could benefit from mental health services do not receive care. Indeed, nearly half of students who screen positive for depression, for example, do not receive treatment. Digital mental health programs, such as those delivered via mobile apps, may help expand access to mental health care and resources. This mixed-methods study aims to examine the uptake and effectiveness of an implementation of IntelliCare for College Students, a self-guided app-based mental health platform, on two university campuses. Methods: Data on counseling center utilization was collected prior to the implementation of the app (pre-implementation phase) and while the app was available on campus (implementation phase). Data on app usage was collected throughout the implementation phase. A subset of participants (n = 20), along with counseling center staff members (n = 10), completed feedback interviews. Results: Overall, uptake of the app platform was low. A total of 117 participants downloaded the app and registered their study ID during the implementation phase. Approximately 24% (28/117) of participants used the app only once. The number of days between the first and last day of app use ranged from 0 to 299, with a mean of 35.01 days and a median of 14 days. A relatively small portion of the sample (26.5%; 31/117) downloaded one or more of the IntelliCare interactive apps. In examining counseling center utilization, there were no significant changes in intake appointments, individual therapy sessions, or crisis appointments observed from the pre-implementation phase to the implementation phase of the study. Feedback interviews highlighted the significant level of disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and shift to remote learning, including challenges disseminating information to students and a preference to spend less time with digital devices outside of class time. Conclusions: Findings from this study indicate that there is an ongoing need to identify ways to reach college students and support student mental health and wellness for the remainder of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100493
JournalInternet Interventions
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • Anxiety
  • College students
  • Depression
  • mHealth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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