Study finds world-first smartphone app, Mello, reduces anxiety and depression in 8 in 10 young peopl

Study finds world-first smartphone app, Mello, reduces anxiety and depression in 8 in 10 young people

21 December 2023

1.3 million young Australians living with anxiety or depression now have a new evidenced-backed tool called Mello to help improve their quality of life.

Designed by Orygen Digital, Mello is a first-of-its-kind smartphone app that has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression by targeting stuck thinking in real time.

New results from Mello’s randomised control trial, recently published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, showed after using Mello for six weeks:

  • 79 per cent of users experienced a reduction in depression
  • 82 per cent experienced a reduction in anxiety.

Mello is the world’s first smartphone app to provide personalised therapeutic intervention for stuck thinking — also known as worry or rumination — which is a core driver of depression and anxiety.

“The effects of Mello were equivalent to what we see in treatments involving multiple sessions with a highly trained psychologist,” said Dr Imogen Bell, Senior Research Fellow and Psychologist.

"We know that stuck thinking is a big driver of depression and anxiety, and Mello works by disrupting stuck thinking when it's happening.

“When a young person is worrying about something or going over and over things in their mind, they can pull out Mello and get relief in the moment to stop themselves from spiralling. It's about getting that instant relief in the moment they're stuck, but also building practical skills to help them get a handle on their stuck thinking long term.

“There's nothing like this that exists in the world at the moment. This approach of treating the underlying drivers is really novel. And using a smartphone app to catch stuck thinking as it’s happening hasn’t been investigated before.”

Dr Bell said the trial had phenomenal participation rates with 95 per cent completing the six-week intervention period.

“Young people were using Mello every second day on average with 96 per cent recommending it to others struggling with depression and anxiety,” she said.

“This is exciting because it shows when you make these tools available to young people, they jump at the opportunity to use them because it resonates with them and it's relevant to the problems they're facing.

“Mello is directly accessible to young people anywhere, anytime which means they don't have to wait months to access effective and engaging support.

“Given the rapidly increasing rates of mental ill-health amongst young people and under-resourced healthcare system, a solution like Mello could be game-changing.”

The trial was conducted on the beta version of Mello. An updated version is now available on Google Play and the Apple app store.