Data Privacy and Consumer Protection Practices of Automated Mental Health, Wellbeing and Mindfulness Apps


Mental health, mindfulness and well-being apps are proliferating, and the latest iterations purport to rely on AI to provide highly personalised services by automated means.

Such apps might, if properly designed and deployed, provide valuable mental health support. But the clinical value of automated mental health and mindfulness support is still being verified. The privacy protections in such apps have been criticised and they have rarely been assessed from consumer protection perspectives. Such inquiries are important given the apps may be accessed without the intervention of a human therapist and used by people with poor mental health and unfamiliar with the technology being utilised to provide the automated service.

This paper reports on a study of popular mental health apps using AI technology to provide the service in question.

The following is a summary of an analysis of the data and consumer protection practices of 15 leading automated mental health, wellbeing and mindfulness apps.

This report considers automated mental health, wellbeing and mindfulness apps in term of their:

  • Privacy policy, data governance practices
  • Use of dark patterns
  • Claims about efficacy
  • Consumer contracting practices

The aim of the study is to provide a sound basis for considering regulatory responses to ensure the apps promote the well-being of consumers.

Research Team