Internship project: Text based mental health apps: a scoping study

Project Participants

Status: Completed


Lyf Support is a text-based app that aims to improve users’ mental health by providing easily accessible mental health support in the form of text therapy. The Australian outpost of Lyf Support has approached the DHCRC for help with understanding Australia’s current regulatory environment to support its intention to gain legitimacy and credibility with Australian mental health consumers and lead the market with an evidence-based app that supports consumers to access on-demand, low cost, and effective mental health therapy.

The DHCRC will partner with the digital health research program at La Trobe University, which aims to address limitations and inefficiencies in the healthcare system. With the rapidly growing demands on the healthcare industry, there has been an increase in healthcare application development. However, launching a mobile app requires navigating a complex legal and regulatory landscape. The Digital Health team at La Trobe University has been working with a number of national and international stakeholders to better understand the emerging regulatory environment around these types of digital health solutions.

Project Objective

Utilising a student intern, the project will first aim to undertake an environmental scan of what technologies and apps exist, as well as the associated regulations and the requirements of app companies to obtain them. This will include exploration of the TGA’s current guidelines for chatbots in the mental health app market, and provide the basis for a social commentary/media output that raises public awareness about this emerging technology and the regulatory environment in which they operate. Following this, a rapid review will be conducted to inform the ethics/study protocol for a cohort study to evaluate the Lyf Support app and the effectiveness of its in-app text therapy.

The project will culminate in a completed study protocol that provides an evidence base for the effectiveness of Lyf.

Integrity, Excellence,
Teamwork and Authenticity