Talking to mental health professionals face to face is usually the best way to tackle immediate mental health issues, but that's not always an available choice, and can be quite a commitment. If you know something's up, but you don't feel ready to seek professional help right away, a mental health app can help you track your negative thoughts and promote your well-being.
(And if you're a therapist, you can incorporate these apps into your patients' schedules, providing additional avenues toward inner peace and mindfulness.)
There are hundreds of computer and smartphone apps available to help you with your mental wellbeing, and choosing the right one can be quite daunting. The best mental health apps come with self-care tips, daily reminders, and other useful tools, allowing users to track their goals and make real progress. We've looked at some of the most popular apps for building up positive mental health – here are some of the best ones out there.
Free for individuals and teams (up to 5 people).
Fingerprint for Success is an AI-powered self-development app that helps you become the superhero version of yourself.
The Fingerprint for Success Vital Wellbeing program is designed to help you overcome self-sabotage as you practice personal development and build emotional resilience.
It focuses on the proactive approach to positive mental health – helping you build daily strategies and thinking tools that you can use to strengthen your mental fortitude.
When you start the program, you answer a few questions, and the app personalizes the lessons based on your input. It combines cognitive-behavioral therapy with AI – the result of 20+ years of research in psychology, neuroscience, and neuro-semantics.
Marlee, the world's most intelligent AI coach, will be guiding you through the journey, offering invaluable tips and advice as you discover more about yourself.
Fingerprint for Success is not a 'symptomatic' app; you wouldn't use it specifically to help through an episode of depression or anxiety, for example. For those issues, you'd be well-served by some of the below apps.
Instead, Fingerprint for Success is a part of your toolkit for reaching the next level. You can use it alongside other apps for a holistic experience – so if you do have occasional mental health issues (as many people do!) you can use therapeutic apps alongside your personal development app.
That said, Fingerprint for Success does have specific coaching modules for building your self-esteem and self-confidence, which can be closely related to reducing anxiety.
Limited free version, premium version set at $14.99/month or $99.99/year
10% Happier is all about mindful meditation and personal growth. The app was brought to life by Dan Harris and Joseph Goldstein, drawing on the teachings from Dan's #1 New York Times bestseller and material from the Ten Percent podcast.
Although the 10% Happier app is easy to use, it's not meant just for beginners. There are more than 500 guided meditations available, able to cover any mood or goal for any experience level. You'll also find mindfulness exercises divided into topics for people dealing with anxiety, substance abuse/addiction, chronic pain, and depression.
10% Happier charges more than competitors, but it's packed with extra material, including the popular Ten Percent podcast and sleep exercises.
7-day free trial, $14.99/month or $69.99/year
If you've been searching for a meditation app, chances are you've come across Calm. Developed back in 2012, Calm has accumulated over 100 million downloads on the App and Play stores.
Calm features an easy-to-use, kid-friendly interface that focuses on mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSRR) – there are no religious or spiritual themes with this one.
Calm's guided meditation experiences are divided into different categories, such as beginners, work, inner peace, anxiety management, emotions, personal growth, and sleep. You can also take advantage of its daily 10-minute guided meditations, breathing exercises, sleep stories, and calming nature-inspired soundtracks.
Free for iOS and Android
What's Up is a free mental health app with plenty of useful material for all kinds of mental health issues. As a free app, it's not as extensive or personalized as some other options on this list, but it's still a great little tool you can use to track your mood and improve your mindset.
What's Up's diary is easy to use, allowing you to rate your emotions on a scale from one to ten. The habit tracker is another core feature of the app, making it easy to track both good and set goals to end bad habits.
There are also three simple breathing exercises to keep you calm and relaxed, and when things get too much, the 'catastrophe scale' helps you put your problems into a better perspective.
Free for iOS and Android
MindShift is backed by scientific research, and it has many tools designed to help you deal with all kinds of mental health conditions. The app provides thorough information about the nature and signs of general worry, anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, and perfectionism.
Aside from all the tools and materials provided by MindShift, the app provides immediate stress relief through the quick relief mode. These tools are designed to help you control your breathing, ground yourself, shift your thinking, and take steps to cope.
There's also an active community forum where you can share stories and learn from others' experiences. Peer-to-peer support in a moderated environment where you feel safe can work wonders to lessen the severity of your symptoms.
Rates and prices vary; a usual subscription ranges from $60 to $90/week
BetterHelp is a California-based therapy services company launched in 2013. Currently, there are more than 20,000 licensed therapists working on the platform, and you're automatically assigned one when you sign up for an account and complete the online questionnaire.
When and how you communicate with your therapist is entirely up to you. You can choose to do your therapy sessions via video chat, phone call, live chat, or even messaging similar to email.
BetterHelp lacks many of the additional features other mental health apps have (e.g., mood trackers and diaries, sleeping and breathing exercises). It's all about connecting you with a professional and allowing them to take it from there.
Self-care at $8.99/month, coaching at $50/month, therapy at $140 for the initial appointment and $85 for follow-up appointments
Like BetterHealth, Sanvello is another mental telehealth (or telemedicine) service that has risen in popularity over the last few years. The difference is that Sanvello also includes many of the familiar tools and features found in popular mental health apps, such as deep breathing activities, mood trackers, health trackers, and thought trackers.
If you'd rather not pay $80+ for online therapy sessions, you can always opt for the coaching service. It comes with everything included in the self-care package with the addition of personalized care by a trained coach. You can message your coach within the app at any time, but it takes about one business day to hear back from them.
Sanvello is extremely user-friendly, and everything you need to overcome mild mental health issues is available to you within the app.
Free 7-day trial, $12.99/month, $69.99/year
Headspace is a popular mental health app that's child-friendly and easy to use. Once you sign up for an account and watch the introductory video, you'll be able to toggle between four categories: meditate, sleep, move, and focus.
It's one of the few mental health apps that offers complete and easy-to-follow meditations for young kids. You'll find plenty of digestible lessons, breathing exercises, and relaxing mindful activities featuring many familiar faces from Sesame Street.
With its simple interface and easy-to-navigate menu, Headspace is a great choice if you're new to meditation and don't know where to start.
Free, or $14.99/month for the premium version
Like many of the apps on this list, Happify is based on cognitive behavioral therapy and positive psychology. Initially, the app provides a quick assessment of your biggest strengths, recommending activities and exercises that best fit your profile.
Happify is backed by research and is very transparent about its approach and methodology. Every activity recommended to you has a purpose, and it comes with a brief, easy-to-read explanation.
The racial injustice learning "Tracks" are a nice touch – racial discrimination isn't often given too much attention on other mindfulness apps.
With its gamified aspects and easy-to-follow "Tracks," Happify is especially good for people who are new to mindfulness and meditation.
Free version, the premium version is $8.99/month
Available for both Apple and Android, Moodfit is a mobile app with plenty of mood-tracking tools, unique features, and hundreds of exercises. Whether you're just experiencing sudden mood swings or you're just looking for a quick mood boost, Moodfit has the tools you need to overcome negative thoughts.
Moodfit's introduction to CBT is ideal for beginners. The secret behind Moodfit's success is its ability to create a set of easy-to-track personalized goals. It helps people understand the correlation between their mood and other physical factors, improving their eating, sleep, and exercise habits as a result.
The custom activity tracking feature is a great way to keep tabs on variables that may affect your mood throughout the day, such as caffeine intake, hydration, and meals.
$260/month for the plus plan, $316/month for the premium plan, and $396 for the ultimate plan
Let's address the elephant in the room first: Talkspace is expensive. Its cheapest monthly plan costs almost as much as two sessions with a certified psychologist. You can, of course, keep the cost down by opting for the message-only plan, which starts at $260/month.
That aside, Talkspace is a good alternative to in-person therapy as it provides each user access to an accredited, experienced licensed therapist. Once you've completed the intake form, you'll find yourself with several options, much like a matchmaking service for dating. You can view a therapist's profile and professional license number, as well as learn more about their experience, availability, approaches, and specializations.
Popular types of therapy offered by certified professionals on Talkspace include cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, behavioral therapy, and humanistic therapy.
Free 7-day trial, $14.99/month for the premium version
Shine is a robust and affordable self-care app featuring various tools, thousands of meditation sessions, and high-quality audio clips. It was featured as Best of 2020 by the App Store, and it won the 2019 Webby Award for Best Lifestyle App.
Shine is a very active app. Talks and seven-day challenges are updated weekly, keeping users interested and engaged for long periods of time with fresh content.
Aside from the usual mood-tracking tools and self-care challenges, Shine encourages communication with the discussion prompt feature, which allows users to share their worries and support each other in real-time.
Shine famously caters to traditionally underserved groups, with specialized content for women, LGBTQI, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. There's also updated content for anyone who needs help navigating COVID-19 and post-pandemic anxiety.
The best mental healthcare app is the one that best serves your unique needs. If you're looking for a well-designed mood tracker and need access to some good meditation sessions, apps like 10% Happier, Calm, and What's Up will do the trick.
If you're looking for online therapy sessions with a mental health professional, an app that provides telehealth services (such as BetterHelp) will probably serve you best. If you've been diagnosed with a specific mental health condition, these will likely be the better option too (as long as you've already consulted a mental health care professional first).
In any case, you need to make sure the app you choose can deliver a personalized experience – there's no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to mental health problems and solutions.
We think a combined approach is the best way to do it. Mental illness or mental health issues can be serious lifelong conditions, but they can also be temporary states of being that we treat like an injury or disease.
Just like building up your immune system with healthy diet and living, your mental defences need to be treated well over time. So having a couple of different apps or programs that target symptoms and coping strategies, alongside development coaching that helps you level up, is a great way to cover all your bases.
And Marlee would love to meet you too; a clever AI coach that tracks your progress, adjusts its approach according to your unique traits, and helps you smash your goals.
Our programs were designed by world-renown coaches, and sessions only take 5-15 minutes. Get started for free with personalized program now by chatting in the box below:
Our expert coaches developed a 9-week Vital Wellbeing program to help you learn how to calm anxiety quickly and build emotional resistence.
Coach Marlee (your amazing AI-powered personal coach) will analyse your unique traits and goals to personalize the program so you see results as quickly as possible.
In this high impact nine week program Coach Marlee will help you to increase your energy, vitality and general wellbeing while also helping you to break through self sabotage and develop life long skills for emotional resilience and self-esteem. Enjoy weekly cutting edge science backed wellbeing resources from both Marlee and our wellbeing partner Blisspot.
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