15 Best Mental Health Apps To Help Wellbeing [for 2023]

Best Mental Health Apps

Mental health apps can be a convenient way to support your psychological and emotional wellbeing or deliver treatment as a mental health provider.

Whether you’re looking for a better way to meditate, journal, or implement self-help techniques for managing anxiety, here are some of the most valuable, helpful, and evidence-based mental health apps available today.

Overview: Best Mental Health Apps of 2023

  • Best for Professionals: Quenza
  • Best Free App: Sanvello
  • Best for Teens and Students: Calm
  • Best for Journaling: MoodKit
  • Best for Games: Happify
  • Best for Depression: MoodTools
  • Best for Anxiety: SAM Self-Help Management for Anxiety
  • Best for Meditation: Headspace

What Are Mental Health Apps?

A mental health app is a type of software for smartphones or tablets that is designed to help you improve your wellbeing or mental health.

These apps might enable you to monitor your mood, self-manage symptoms of a condition, or practice exercises to overcome psychological challenges, among other things.

Mental health apps are often focused on specific areas related to wellbeing, helping you manage or treat depression, anxiety, or insomnia, to name a few.

Are They Effective?

While not designed to be a substitute for professional mental health treatment, there is research suggesting that apps can play a helpful role in treating certain disorders.

Specifically, data suggests that tools used to deliver guided internet cognitive-behavioral therapy can be as effective as in-person CBT, and studies into e-therapy for the treatment of anxiety have yielded similar results.[1][2]

screenshot of CBT expansions in Quenza
Customizable cognitive-behavioral therapy activities for clients in the Quenza mental health app.

How To Choose an Evidence-Based Mental Health App

The mental health app market is full of tools that claim to treat certain conditions, but not all of them are designed with input from professionals.

A reliable and safe way to choose the right app for your purposes is to select an evidence-based app—a research-informed solution that has been evaluated by mental health experts and determined as effective for the treatment of your specific symptoms.

Evidence-based mental health apps can help you implement approaches that have been thoroughly studied and are backed by supporting data, such as CBT, mindfulness, or ACT.[3]

We’ve reviewed evidence-based apps in this article and chosen the best based on their features, price, and user reviews.

3 Best Apps To Help Your Clients

In the tables below, we’ve reviewed three great apps that can help users manage, track, and improve their own mental health.

AppDetails
moodkit logo white suitcase green backgroundMoodKit was developed by experts and comes packed with tips and tools for everyday life:

  • Includes over 200 mood improvement activities
  • Tailors recommended activities to your needs
  • Guidance to modify distressing thoughts
  • Mood rating and tracking over time
  • Custom journaling tool
  • iOS calendar integration and reminders
NameMoodKit
Good forAnyone who wants to boost their own mood
Price$4.99
More infoMoodKit
AppDetails
moodtools logo blue chest white backgroundThis app provides information, assessments, videos, and more to help users with their mental health:

  • Includes the PHQ-9 depression questionnaire to track symptoms over time
  • Features a thought diary that allows users to record and analyze their thoughts and feelings, and identify negative thinking or distorted thinking
  • Guides users in developing a safety plan
NameMoodTools
Good forAnyone struggling with feelings of sadness or depression
More infoMoodTools
AppDetails
talklife logo purple italic text TalkLife is a smartphone app with which users can get peer support for their mental health:  

  • Offers a group therapy feel with connection to other users
  • Anonymous, instant support
  • Large global community
NameTalkLife
Good forPeople who are feeling lonely or struggling with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, or self-harm
More infoTalkLife

3 Top Apps For Students and Teens

Smartphones are an accessible, convenient way for teenagers and students to get additional help alongside therapy.

We’ve reviewed three apps that are affordable, appropriate, and potentially helpful for users in this age group.

AppDetails
Happify logo multicolor wheel orange letter hHappify is a mental health games app designed by experts and based on principles of positive psychology, mindfulness, and CBT:

  • Science-based games and activities
  • Aimed at helping users cope with stress and overcome negative thoughts
  • Includes over 65 tracks customized to your goal(s)
  • Unlimited access to games and meditations
  • Includes a 20-page character strengths report from the VIA institute
NameHappify
Good forPeople who want to be happier, more mindful, and more resilient
Price$11.67 – $14.99/month (based on billing) or $449.99 (lifetime membership)
More infoHappify
AppDetails
calm app logo blue background white text Calm offers multiple tools for a happier, healthier user and was named Apple’s 2017 app of the year:

  • Guided meditations
  • Tools to help you sleep better
  • Exclusive music for focus, relaxation, and sleep
  • Video lessons on mindful movement and gentle stretching
  • Masterclass audio programs taught by experts
  • Nature scenes and sounds
NameCalm
Good forAnyone interested in meditation, mindfulness, and better sleep
Price$69.99/year or $399.99 (lifetime membership)
More infoCalm
AppDetails
SAM Mental Health AppsThis science-based app is focused on managing symptoms of anxiety:

  • App that helps users understand and manage their anxiety
  • Offers monitoring of anxious thoughts and behaviors over time
  • Helps user manage their anxiety through self-help exercises and reflection
  • “Social cloud” feature allows users to share their experiences with the SAM community while protecting their identity
NameSAM: Self-Help for Anxiety Management
Good forPeople struggling with anxiety
More infoSAM: Self-Help for Anxiety Management

3 Mobile Apps for Professionals

If you’re a psychologist, professional counselor, or another type of mental health care provider, there are several apps that can help you run your practice and deliver treatments more effectively.

Check out the tables below for three of the best available apps.

App

Details

Quenza logo navy background white letter QQuenza gives practitioners all the tools they need to plan, deliver, and monitor e-therapy treatments:

  • A complete practice management software
  • Including a library of evidence-based forms, templates, exercises, and activities
  • Fully-customizable treatment pathways
  • HIPAA-compliant platform
  • Secure client-therapist messaging
  • Client notifications and reminders
NameQuenza
Price$1+ monthly
Good ForSolo practitioners, Coaches, Mental Health Providers
More infoQuenza

App

Details

blue Owl practice logo white owlOwl Practice is a practice management software and web-based app ideal for treating patients according to a personalized plan:

  • Automated online scheduling
  • Insurance claims management
  • Email reminders and text reminders
  • Payment processing
  • Recording and tracking patient details (EHR)
  • Messaging, assessment, and billing via the client portal
NameOwl Practice
Price$69+ monthly
Good ForSolo Practitioners, Multi-provider Practices
More infoOwl Practice

App

Details

therapyzen logo blue and red heartTherapyZen is another web-based platform with no Android or Apple apps; however, it offers a range of tools for therapists to deliver treatment more efficiently:

  • Invoicing and billing
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Payment processing
  • Note-taking and document management
  • Custom form builder and templates
  • Organizing client notes, demographics, and history (EHR)
NameTherapyZen
Price$29+ monthly
Good ForSolo providers, Multi-provider Practices
More infoTherapyZen

3 Journaling Apps for Mental Health

Journaling apps enable users to track their experiences, thoughts, moods, or symptoms over time.

The following self-help mental health apps cover a range of different focus areas:

AppDetails
CBT Thought diary logo blue background diary iconCBT Thought Diary is based on CBT techniques and guides users through journaling for negative thoughts:

  • Dozens of guided mood journals to help reframe negative thought patterns
  • Mood tracking feature to identify trends over time
  • Includes 100+ assessments and mini-courses on mental health
  • Based on scientific techniques such as CBT, DBT, ACT, and positive psychology
NameCBT Thought Diary
Good forPeople struggling with their emotional well-being
More infoCBT Thought Diary
AppDetails
Optimism gratitude journal app logo yellow background emoji face Optimism is a gratitude journaling app based on research conducted by well-known positive psychologists:

  • Gratitude journal app
  • Guides the user through the “Three Good Things” exercise each evening
  • Allows users to archive and review their good things each day
  • Based on foundational research study on gratitude (“Counting Blessings versus Burdens”)
NameOptimism
Good forAnyone interested in practicing gratitude
More infoOptimism
AppDetails
mindshift app logo blue background white emoji faceMindShift is another evidence-based CBT app that offers free techniques to help users manage anxiety:

  • Uses scientifically proven strategies based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Strategies include thought journals, belief experiments, building fear ladders, and comfort zone challenges
  • Calming audio for reframing and practicing mindfulness
  • Progress tracking and accountability
  • Tools for tackling worry, panic, social anxiety, perfectionism, and phobias
NameMindShift
Good forPeople with anxiety
More infoMindShift

3 Free Mental Health Apps

Evidence-based apps don’t have to be expensive, and there are plenty of reliable, free resources available for students, clients, or anyone looking for a lower-cost alternative.

AppDetails
Sanvello black and green logo smallSanvello is one of a few mental health apps that take insurance, offering:

  • On-demand mental health management resources
  • Self-care tools, therapy, coaching, and community
  • Clinically validated techniques to help the user manage their moods and thoughts
  • Daily mood tracking, guided journeys, coping tools, meditations, and progress assessments
NameSanvello
Good forPeople with stress, anxiety, depression, and trauma-related conditions
PriceFree (basic app) or $8.99/month and up (self-care portion)
More infoSanvello

App

Details

Headspace logo plain orange circleHeadspace is a mindfulness and meditation app to help users reduce stress, improve their sleep, and enhance their mood:

  • Hundreds of guided meditations
  • The basics course is a 10-day beginner’s journey, and it’s free
  • Short animated videos explaining meditation and mindfulness-related concepts
  • Sleepcasts and winddowns to help you fall asleep or get back to sleep
NameHeadspace
Good forAnyone who would like to be more mindful
PriceFree (basics) or $12.99/month (access to all content)
More infoHeadspace
AppDetails
insight timer logo brown bowl white backdropInsightTimer is a meditation and mindfulness app with individual and company plans:

  • Includes courses and content from teachers on a wide range of mental health and meditation-related topics
  • Includes 130,000+ guided meditations, music, and guided sleep exercises
  • Features talks and events plus content from special guests
NameInsightTimer
Good forPeople interested in meditation and mindfulness
More infoInsightTimer

FAQs

Are there mental health apps that take insurance?

There are a few apps that accept insurance, which can help cover the cost of specific features—Owl Practice, TherapyZen, and Sanvello are three that we’ve reviewed in this article.

Online therapy providers that specialize in live, professional mental health treatment also frequently partner with insurance companies to reduce the cost of therapy. Click here for our reviews of top mental health platforms that fall into this category.

How do mental health apps work?

Depending on the type of support that you’re looking for, there are a few ways you might make use of your specific app.

Some apps include guided meditations for users to listen to on demand, such as InsightTimer or Headspace. Others, such as Quenza, might simplify how you interact with your professional therapist and allow you to receive personalized, medically sound treatment more conveniently.

Choosing the best app for you means considering how well it addresses your specific mental health challenges and whether it fits your budget.

You’ll also want to think about whether you are likely to benefit from the app’s particular features: will you realistically journal every day, record your mood, or complete interactive exercises? What would be most impactful for you?

Can I use apps to prescribe medication?

The apps that we’ve reviewed aren’t designed for e-prescribing and are only recommended as a potential complement to professional treatment or for casual use.

Final Thoughts

This piece introduced fifteen mental health-related apps that can provide mood-boosting, practice-improving, and life-enhancing value. While these fifteen apps made the cut for inclusion here, there are tons of other apps out there that you may find to be effective for you or your clients.

If you’re a therapist, it’s a good idea to do some research on apps in your specialty and try some of them out for yourself to ensure you’re recommending only the best for your clients.

The bottom line is that apps are the therapeutic tools of the future. If you want to offer your clients the most impactful tools for growth, healing, and self-development, you’ll want to start incorporating apps like these. Why not start your $1, 30-day trial of Quenza today?

References

  1. ^ Kessler, D., Lewis, G., Kaur, S., Wiles, N., King, M., Weich, S., & Peters, T. J. (2009). Therapist-delivered Internet psychotherapy for depression in primary care: a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet, 374(9690), 628-634.
  2. ^ Olthuis, J. V., Watt, M. C., Bailey, K., Hayden, J. A., & Stewart, S. H. (2016). Therapist‐supported Internet cognitive behavioural therapy for anxiety disorders in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (3).
  3. ^ Lui, J. H., Marcus, D. K., & Barry, C. T. (2017). Evidence-based apps? A review of mental health mobile applications in a psychotherapy context. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 48(3), 199.

About the author

Courtney is currently working as a healthcare workforce researcher for the state of California and is a regular contributor to the Quenza blog. She has a passion for taking research findings and translating them into concise, actionable packages of information that anyone can understand and implement.

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