Recent reports show that as many as 76% of Americans consider their mental health just as important as their physical health. In addition, at least 56% of US citizens are seeking help for mental issues at any point in time. Clearly, there’s a significant demand for effective systems, such as mental health apps, to serve the nation’s growing requirements.
In this article, we review seven of the best options to help you decide which is right for you.
Why Use Mental Health Apps?
One of the primary reasons for using good mental health apps is the lack of access to in-person therapy or the long waiting times. Another problem is the often limited number of options available for therapy outside of larger cities.
Moreover, there is still a certain stigma attached to mental health that most of the best apps deal with. Software offers a discreet, often anonymous alternative as well as control over how and what people want to do with their mental health.
These days there are different mental health apps to cover everything from cultivating a healthier lifestyle to managing specific disorders and symptoms. Others again target a range of symptoms, from depression to bipolar disorder, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, and more.
There are also apps for mental health professionals to enable them to streamline their processes to better serve their clients. Therapy apps that fall under this umbrella can make it easy for practitioners to deliver higher-quality and more effective treatments for improved results.
Mental health apps can be a convenient way to support your psychological and emotional wellbeing or to deliver treatment as a mental health provider.
In short, apps can be a convenient way to support your psychological and emotional wellbeing or to deliver treatment as a mental health provider.
7 Best Apps for Mental Health in 2023
It’s safe to say that in the future, apps that help with mental health will continue to play an increasingly important role in the provision of care.
There is even evidence suggesting that they hold significant potential to increase patient engagement, while positively influencing patients’ ability to self-manage symptoms. This, in turn, can lead to improved clinical outcomes.
So, we reviewed the top mental health apps, of which here are some of the most valuable, helpful, and evidence-based alternatives to conventional therapy.
Overview: Best Mental Health Apps of 2023:
- Best for Professional Treatment: Quenza
- Best for stress and loneliness: Sanvello
- Best for Teens and Students: Calm
- Best for Journaling: MoodKit
- Best for Depression: MoodTools
- Best for Anxiety: SAM Self-Help Management for Anxiety
- Best for Meditation: Headspace
Quenza – Best for Professionals
|As one of the best mental health apps, Quenza gives practitioners all the tools they need to plan, deliver, and monitor e-therapy treatments for online psychotherapy. With its easy-to-use drag-and-drop, counselors, coaches, and therapists can deliver personalized interventions, quizzes, and treatments. Clients simply log in for free and they work through their plan according to their needs. |
|Good For||Solo practitioners, Coaches, Mental Health Providers|
Sanvello – Best for Stress and Loneliness
|Sanvello provides research-backed CBT and mindfulness tools alongside personalized goal trackers. Users also have access to a community board for extra support and connection which is a powerful way to beat loneliness. |
It’s also one of the few mental health apps that take insurance, offering:
|Good for||People with stress, anxiety, depression, and trauma-related conditions|
|Price||Free (basic app) or $8.99/month and up (self-care portion)|
Calm – Best for Teens & Students
|Calm is a visually appealing meditation and mindfulness app with a range of free meditation courses. All these are backed by neuroscience further supporting their mantra that mindfulness is science. More specifically, it has a kid’s section designed for teens and students as well as for children as young as 3. |
The visuals and interactive use are particularly suited to help kids learn relaxation techniques in a way that works for them. Overall, it is one of the best services for a more relaxed user and was named Apple’s 2017 app of the year:
|Good for||Anyone interested in meditation, mindfulness, and better sleep|
|Price||$69.99/year or $399.99 (lifetime membership)|
Moodkit – Best for Journaling
|MoodKit was developed by two clinical psychologists and make CBT tools accessible to all. Split into modules covering relationships, productivity, mood journal, and more, it is packed with tips for everyday life to overcome depression and negative thinking. |
Furthermore, with its simple charts, users can track averages, daily ratings, and everything else a journal covers:
|Good for||Anyone who wants to boost their own mood|
Moodtools – Best for Depression
|This is one of the best mental health apps for depression providing useful information, assessments, videos, and more, to help users with their mental health. |
The app specifically focuses on depression with its analysis of risk factors and psychological approaches to support treatment. It also offers a mood tracker based on Behavioral Activation Therapy with activities to uplift your mood:
|Good for||Anyone struggling with feelings of sadness or depression|
|Price||$4.99 per month or $29.99 per year|
SAM – Best for Anxiety
|As one of the best mental health apps for managing symptoms of anxiety, it is both simple and accessible. It provides users with instant support in the form of interactive pictures and techniques as well as longer-term support. This includes learning about unhelpful thoughts, self-care, and more. This science-based app is both a free non-profit and developed by the psychology department of the University of Bristol, UK: |
|Name||SAM: Self-Help for Anxiety Management|
|Good for||People struggling with anxiety|
|More info||SAM: Self-Help for Anxiety Management|
Headspace – Best for Meditation
|Headspace is one of the best-known apps for mindfulness and meditation. Designed by former UK-born Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe, the app blends science with Buddhist teachings and techniques.|
Headspace aims to help users develop the necessary mindset to reduce stress, improve sleep, and enhance their mood:
|Good for||Anyone who would like to be more mindful|
|Price||Free (basics) or $12.99/month (access to all content)|
Compare the Top Mental Health Apps
We’ve collated the best apps in the table below so you can pick the right one for your needs.
Sometimes you also have to simply dive in and give things a go to truly appreciate the benefits.
|App||Best for||Platforms Available||Price||Free Offerings|
|Quenza||Professionals||iOS, Android||$1+ monthly||Free trial|
|Sanvello||Stress & loneliness||iOS, Android||Free (basic app) or $8.99/month and up (self-care portion)||Basic access|
|Calm||Teens & students||iOS, Android||$69.99/year or $399.99 (lifetime membership)||Basic access|
|Moodtools||Depression||iOS, Android||$4.99 per month or $29.99 per year||Basic access|
|Headspace||Meditation||iOS, Android||Free (basics) or $12.99/month (access to all content)||First 7 or 14 days free when choosing monthly or annual subscription respectively|
How to Use Apps for Online Therapy
Evidence-based mental health apps can support counselors, coaches, and therapists with their back-end processes. They are also invaluable for connecting and engaging with clients on a regular basis.
With all the tools, exercises, and therapy worksheets available, clients can easily work in between sessions, especially when triggered or facing particularly challenging moments. Essentially, apps make therapy more experiential while empowering clients.
Moreover, journaling apps for mental health break down the barriers to self-reflection and inner exploration.
In this digital era, writing about or tracking moods and feelings can feel daunting, and yet, journaling is one of the most powerful tools for self-discovery that leads to wellbeing.
Another major benefit of mental health apps is that they are accessible to anyone, anywhere. People with limited mobility or disabilities can now feel connected and supported at any time with the simple click of a button.
The key to using apps to health with mental health is to leverage the tools and exercises. For example, the wheel of life is a great exercise to get a sense of how balanced someone’s life is. It can also be adapted to explore values, strengths, needs, and ikigai.
Mental health apps offer an experiential approach to exploring life and discovering inner strengths to better navigate challenges and improve overall wellbeing.
Is There a Free App for Professionals?
One of the best free mental health apps is SAM which is specifically designed to support anxiety symptoms. Nevertheless, it’s more geared toward clients rather than those in the mental health profession.
Quenza is the only one that offers free access to clients. As a professional, it gives you multiple streamlining options for your processes but also a way to design and customize your own client online treatments for anxiety.
Overall, Quenza enables a smoother and more personalized therapy or coaching journey while helping you engage clients for better results.
Using Mental Health Software with Teens: 8 Tips
One of the core foundations for working with teens and students is to be creative and relevant. So, counselors, coaches, and therapists need to be both modern in how they use online tools while also allowing their younger clients to be themselves.
The best mental health apps for teens combine experiential with interactive tools and fun visuals. As such, not only do these apps promote their independence but they encourage them to communicate and reflect.
Nevertheless, here are some tips to engage the apps in the right way.
1- Connect with emotions
Most apps have a journaling function and perhaps a separate tracking tool for moods, thoughts, and feelings. As a counselor or coach, you can use these tools to teach your younger clients the words for emotions and feelings.
As the apps are interactive and fun, teens can gradually expand their vocabulary of emotions. Consequently, they start connecting with and embracing those emotions.
2. Listen deeply
Every coach, counselor, and therapist knows to listen deeply. Nevertheless, it can be tough to put yourself in a teenager’s shoes.
So, what are they not telling you? Moreover, how can you leverage listening to show them they are in control and not in a “teacher knows best” rather than therapeutic relationship? In the end, it’s what they think that matters and the solutions they can come up with that will work for them.
3. Use their language
The benefit of mental health apps for students is that they provide a platform with a common language for everyone. As you work through the coaching tools and exercises with them through the app, use the same words.
With time, familiarity through the app will make therapy less abstract and essentially, more effective.
4. Acknowledge feelings
Most teenagers feel misunderstood but apps play a powerful role in acknowledging their feelings. They also normalize things for them so that they gradually don’t feel more alien.
In short, they don’t just trust your word for it, you’re opening them up to the world of feelings and discomfort. Life is painful and the apps can make that feel less terrifying because of how they present things through visuals, games, and exercises.
5. Body movement
Depending on your approach, you might already use somatic movement. Today, we have access to a plethora of research that shows that emotions can be moved through the body.
Some teenagers might feel awkward moving in front of their therapist but they can play around more freely with the right app. As they do, they’ll develop their own approach to what “moving emotions through the body” means for them.
6. Tell stories
We all respond to stories because of the emotional connection they create. Teenagers can also benefit from stories as they learn to access their memories to avoid bottling things up.
Again, the right mental health apps can give you a framework for some creative and insightful story creation.
Recommended: 7 Therapy Activities for Teens: Individual & Group Resources
7. Ask open questions
Again, any professional in the mental health industry knows the power of asking open questions. Nevertheless, we too are human with our biases.
So, some mental health apps can inspire you to freshen up your library of questions. Furthermore, teenagers can keep working on these questions in between sessions to build their own self-reflection skills.
8. Watch the nonverbal
It goes without saying that nonverbal communication is critical which you won’t necessarily get from an app. Nevertheless, be creative. Why not ask your younger clients to log what’s happening in their bodies as well as the matching mood?
While there are free apps for mental health, most need at least a one-off fee with the subscription model being the norm. How you then choose your preferred app from the list of the best mental health apps depends on your needs.
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to providing great quality blended or virtual care but most apps offer at least a free trial to get you started. Either way, mental health apps enhance the client-provider relationship and make it easier for patients to continue with their treatment in between sessions.
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?
- ^ Wood, P., Burwell, J., Rawlett, K., & Shandwick, W. (2018). New Study Reveals Lack of Access as Root Cause for Mental Health Crisis in America. Retrieved from: https://www.thenationalcouncil.org/press-releases/new-study-reveals-lack-of-access-as-root-cause-for-mental-health-crisis-in-america/
- ^ Luxton, D. D., McCann, R. A., Bush, N. E., Mishkind, M. C., & Reger, G. M. (2011). mHealth for mental health: Integrating smartphone technology in behavioral healthcare. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 42(6), 505.
- ^ Chandrashekar, P. (2018). Do mental health mobile apps work: evidence and recommendations for designing high-efficacy mental health mobile apps. Mhealth, 4(6).
- ^ Gilbody, S., Whitty, P., Grimshaw, J., & Thomas, R. (2003). Educational and organizational interventions to improve the management of depression in primary care: a systematic review. Jama, 289(23), 3145.