Mental health apps are gaining new followers, but the demographic gap remains

Mental health apps are gaining new followers, but the demographic gap remains

Anything connected to the internet – from smartphones to power plant controls – can be manipulated. — Photo: DJC

Airship has released new data on the popularity of wellbeing apps in the UK (of which there is a wide range). One of the key takeaways from the data is that 8 out of 10 people rely on mobile apps to stay healthy, especially mental health apps.

The data comes from a recent survey. The survey was conducted in January 2023 with 4,000 consumers aged 18+ in the UK, US and France.

The survey explores the various reasons why consumers are attracted to health-related apps on smartphones or wearable devices. Fitness remains a strong motivator, but apps are also being used for a wider range of health needs. These reasons include staying in touch with family and friends (26 percent), improving sleep (19 percent) and following a diet (15 percent).

In terms of app types, mental health apps are becoming increasingly popular. In particular, the data highlights that 23 percent of UK residents are keen to break away from the ‘always on’ culture by either limiting their screen time (14 percent) or avoiding disruptive interruptions (9 percent). At the same time, 11 percent of British respondents use meditation applications.

Other key findings from the data analysis include that the UK lags behind other countries in the use of welfare apps. This is supported by the finding that around 78 percent of UK consumers use these apps, compared to more than 80 percent in both the US and France.

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Another finding is the demographic deficit. Here, older generations seem to be missing out on the benefits of digital health apps. In contrast, only 22 percent of Gen Xers (and 42 percent of Baby Boomers) do not rely on wellness apps. In general, 28 percent of the youngest generations use meditation apps, compared to 17 percent of older generations.

In the case of younger people, the lack of access to advertisers is a problem. Younger generations increasingly rely on apps to block out distractions or limit screen time. This presents a challenge for mobile marketers who want to target these age groups.

In the UK, Gen Z and Millennials use apps to limit screen time and avoid interruptions with 33 and 31 percent respectively, compared to just 20 percent of Gen X and 11 percent of Boomers.

Other reasons for low uptake in some areas can be attributed to a lack of education, awareness or confidence. All of these are obstacles. In addition, cost remains the main barrier for low-income users to adopt well-being apps.

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