In our busy, fast-paced world, many people struggle daily with mental health issues like stress, anxiety, and depression. Whether they’re triggered or made worse by work, relationships, or family-living, not everyone finds it easy to seek help and guidance.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t find ways to manage find meaning, manage difficult symptoms, and get proactive about our well-being.
Mental health coaching plays a valuable role in all of these and is becoming increasingly more accessible from the comfort of your home. But how does it work, exactly? And what does great mental health coaching involve?
What Is Mental Health Coaching?
Coaching has dramatically increased in popularity over the last decades, as awareness about the importance of a healthy lifestyle grows.
Health coaching, in particular, has a key part to play in all this, and in recent years has come to encompass the ever-important topic of psychological well-being.
Defined as “…a goal‐oriented, client‐centered partnership that is health‐focused and occurs through a process of client enlightenment and empowerment,” health coaching can help many people address pressing mental health challenges in a competitive and complex world.
Among its many potential applications, mental health coaching can help individuals better cope with many common issues such as anxiety, stress, and depression.
As an individual, learning how to approach your problems and define your goals can make a big difference in your life – professional or personal – and as such, mental health coaching has grown in popularity.
What Does It Involve?
To clarify, mental health coaching is not equivalent to mental health therapy or treatment but describes a support system that can enhance the latter’s results, complementing more formal approaches to recovery.
More specifically, working with a professional coach and methodologies of the discipline, individuals can:
- Identify their personal mental health and well-being goals
- Recognize where and how behavior change will help them achieve those goals
- Get help with decision-making about action plans, and
- Understand how to better use their mental, social, and physical resources in achieving them.
Mental health coaching uses a series of methods and techniques that focus on the strengths one has and how exactly they can put them to use when reaching their future goals.
Professional coaches will use established frameworks and coaching models – like CBT or mindfulness – to provide a service that often acts as a safety net during recovery and dealing with difficult mental health symptoms.
We’ve shown a mindfulness video intervention above using Quenza’s Activity Builder, as just one example of the technology giving practitioners flexibility over the specific tools they want to apply. Using the same tools, our coach might share a cognitive restructuring video with a stressed-out client.
(Read more here about Certifications to become a Mental Health Coach.)
Professional coaches will use established frameworks and coaching models to provide a service that often acts as a safety net during recovery and dealing with difficult mental health symptoms.
Mental Health Coaching Versus Therapy
Mental health treatments address a wide range of issues, from potentially deadly illnesses to less immediately threatening, sub-clinical symptoms.
Within this diverse field, therapists describe licensed, accredited professionals – typically specializing in helping patients whose ailments meet Diagnostic and Statistical (DSM-V) criteria, such as:
- Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Intellectual Disability
- Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and
- Conduct Disorders.
In contrast, general and mental health coaches use less ‘vigorous’ approaches to deal with the same issues. While they may be very experienced and the service they provide is often essential as part of a larger blended care treatment program, coaches are not trained to diagnose illnesses or prescribe clinical treatments.
Another key difference relates to the regulation of both industries. Despite its significant growth over the last decade, the coaching industry remains largely unregulated. As a result, many coaches are not professionally trained psychologists or psychiatrists, and their methods may vary.
Mental health coaching should be seen as a complementary form of treatment, and not as a replacement for therapy.
Do I Want Coaching or Therapy?
The way mental health coaching is used depends a lot on what a client is dealing with, and how difficult the recovery is for him/her.
People who struggle with mental health disorders should seek professional help and see a therapist or teletherapist, who can make an educated assessment of their state. They might give the green light for coaching or they might keep the clients on traditional treatment in parallel.
Clients who choose coaching exclusively are mostly clients with sub-clinical – or less “serious” symptoms” who are mainly looking for a way to achieve more, be more successful at what they are doing, or find something that makes them happier.
Advantages of Mental Health Apps and Software
Telemedicine is already a mainstream approach to aiding people with certain conditions, and mental health has seen the most dramatic rise in virtual cabinets and online consultations.
With some exceptions, research has shown many significant benefits and good efficacy rates for mental e-health interventions, providing official guidelines and best practices are respected.
Mental health apps and software are one promising way that individuals can seek mental health treatment. Especially popular among many patients who might otherwise not seek professional help, they offer a range of advantages.
In particular, the convenience factor they offer is hugely instrumental for many mental health patients and providers alike.
6 Benefits of Mental Health Software
Besides convenience, many other advantages have been associated with mental health software and apps.
We’ve summarized some of the main benefits in the table below.
|Apps and software can be web-based or mobile-compatible, eliminating the need for provider-patient proximity|
|They allow the patients to be in the comfort of their own home for their mental health coaching or therapy|
|Software and apps reduce costs by allowing users to skip transportation, babysitting, and other practical expenses|
|Mental health providers can access a huge bulk of their necessary information in digital databases, with a few clicks|
|Using algorithms and matching systems based on patient needs, clients can be paired with coaches and counselors that suit their style and preference|
|Because mobile therapy, video therapy, and mental health coaching sessions can be done anywhere relatively private, patients who fear stigma are more easily convinced to get help|
For mental health providers, remote therapy and coaching solutions are very helpful, enabling them to reach those faraway patients in remote areas, as well as patients with physical impairments.
Moreover, therapy and online coaching apps can sometimes be greatly comforting to those requiring help right there and now, enabling practitioners to help them through less serious crises.
Many mental health coaches use apps to share videos or mp3s with users, teaching anxiety management techniques that help users through stressful moments of their day. Common examples might include meditations, or breathing and muscle relaxation techniques.
As shown above, we’ve used Quenza’s coaching tools to share a stress management activity with our client. This will walk them through management techniques for a few of the anxiety-related symptoms they might be experiencing.
Mental health software has additional flexibility benefits, making treatment easier for new mothers, for example, to take on some work while still caring for their babies. After all, a computer with a good internet connection is enough for as many as a few daily sessions.
Can Mental Health Apps Replace Therapy?
With these advantages in mind, why would we still go to clinics in person when dealing with mental health?
Remote mental health solutions can replace traditional therapy up to a point – they will not suit every patient and provider and come with their own set of limitations.
- Not all therapy and coaching apps providers may adhere to established telemedicine regulations, such as a provider’s duty to securely protect medical info from criminal attacks. Similarly, unlicensed practitioners may also fail to obtained a patient’s informed consent, or ensuring use HIPAA-compliant video conferencing for private communications.
- Secondly, unlicensed practitioners may not deliver reliable treatments or coaching quality, leaving it up to consumers to look for experienced, licensed professionals.
- Finally, some users looking for a mental health solution simply lack the digital literacy required to reap the full benefits of virtual coaching – for these individuals, in-person therapy may simply be easier and more reliable.
Within the industry, therefore, it’s important for software developers to comply with the medical community standards and involve actual professionals in software development processes. Coaching apps and software should be HIPAA-compliant and not fail in the middle of the coaching or therapy session.
Best Mental Health Coaching Apps and Software
Bearing in mind that coaching differs from therapy when it comes to mental health, this list includes apps and software that you can use to aid or complement your mental health coaching journey.
Some apps take a clinical approach, implementing established techniques such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or psychotherapy.
Others apply behavioral techniques and coaching methods to a separate goal, such as weight loss or fighting addictions.
|An effective stress management tool, Headspace reminds its users to stop every day from what they are doing and deal with the accumulated stress.|
You can choose from hundreds of meditation exercises and use them every time you feel that your issues are overwhelming.
|Good For||Stress, Anxiety, Sleep, Exercise, Fitness, Productivity, Exercise|
|An app that uses meditation for helping its users, Calm is very good at adapting to the skill level and experience level of each individual.|
Whether you have never tried meditation before or you have years of experience with it, Calm is going to help you unwind, deal with negative feelings, and prepare for the next steps towards your goal.
|Good For||Stress, Anxiety, Sleep, Exercise, Meditation|
|Quenza’s distinct edge over many other mental health coaching apps is that it brings therapist-designed activities and programs to clients on their mobile. Therapists simply use the platform to share meditations, self-reflection prompts, breathing techniques, mood journals, symptom assessments, and other coaching tools with their clients, who can access these as homework between sessions or complete virtual treatments.|
With validated scales, videos, mp3s, and other personalized coaching tools, Quenza can help users manage their specific mental health symptoms with the help of a professional. Free for clients to use, the app is Android and Apple compatible.
|Good For||Experience Sampling, Stress Management, Treatment Plans, Psychotherapy, Psychological Assessments, Anxiety, Depression|
|Stress management tools are useful in a wide range of mental health disorders, from phobias to depression, and Breathe2Relax is a very simple tool that offers smartphone-based help to any user.|
The app features a few simple breathing techniques that can help you relax and cope with stressful situations. The app talks to you in a calming voice and takes you through every step of the breathing exercises. There are also screen guidance if you prefer not to follow audio instructions.
|Good For||Fitness, General Health, Stress Management, Anxiety|
|An app specialized in offering help to OCD patients, Worry Watch simply tracks your triggers to anxious feelings, making them easier to cope with.|
A mental health coach or therapist can recommend this app to patients and have immediate access to their progress through the app’s reporting and sharing system.
|Good For||Anxiety, Stress, Experience Sampling, Thought Diary|
|More info||Worry Watch|
|This software is more practitioner-focused, and dedicated to a large array of mental health professionals, from psychologists and psychiatrists to coaches and social workers.|
TheraPlatform is a back-end practice management suite and client communication tool, providing a safe and intuitive space for scheduling appointments, billing consultations, and even video technology for remotely treating patients and clients.
|Good For||Practice Management, Billing, Client Communications, Scheduling, Notifications, Video Chat|
|Whether you’re fighting alcohol addiction or heavy drug abuse, this is an app that can serve as a tool during your recovery period, tracking your progress and reminding you of the initial goal you have set.|
A lot of times, those struggling with addiction can feel optimistic and energized at the beginning of a program, only to be discouraged by obstacles. Apps like Quit That! have the role of putting things into perspective, while motivating you to move forward.
|Good For||Habit Tracking, Goal-setting, Addiction|
|More info||Quit That!|
|Dedicated to mental health patients, this time those dealing with Bipolar Disorder, iMoodJournal helps them track their moods and feelings, medication, sleep, and other indicators of their state.|
This helps them and their therapist in the healing process and can serve as an information base when starting mental health coaching.
|Good For||Mood Tracking, Anxiety, OCD, Depression|
|Stigma is a very user-friendly app, designed to connect people who have the same issues and same feelings through journaling and providing feedback for the raw, unfiltered narration of their thoughts.|
The app also has a great built-in feature that points out the words you use the most when journaling about your feelings, a tool that may indicate what to focus on during therapy or coaching.
|Good For||Anxiety, Stress, Fitness|
|A simple, user-friendly app that helps you deal with depression, anxiety, and stress by offering you tips on how to cope with negative feelings. The app also features a diary section where you can monitor your mood swings and symptoms.|
There is also a community page where you can share and exchange your experiences. That is especially great for those caring for other people as they can learn about the troubles and stages others go through as well.
|Good For||Experience Sampling, Mood Diary, Anxiety, Stress, Depression|
|More info||What’s Up|
|Another self-help tool that can beautifully complement mental health coaching or therapy is Happify, a creative, yet evidence-based approach that allows you to identify your weak points, your assets, and a few effective methods of dealing with hard times in your day-to-day life.|
|Good For||Stress, Anxiety, Meditation, Negative Thoughts|
|Because we have mentioned how mental health coaching can be a part of broader, more holistic approaches, we included Lifesum in our list.|
This app lets you set personal goals of any nature, from weight loss to fighting cigarette addiction, and follow-through with the help of cognitive-behavioral techniques.
|Good For||Diet, Meal Planning, Fitness Tracking, Health Coaching|
|SAM is short for Self-Help Anxiety Management, and the different thing about this app is that it focuses on a practical approach for anxiety management instead of practising meditation and spiritual principles.|
For individuals who are not fit with meditation, SAM is a great tool in dealing with anxious feelings.
|Good For||Depression, CBT, Anxiety, Meditation|
|There are so many teens and young adults out there struggling with anxiety, just because they did not learn healthy coping mechanisms as kids.|
Mind Shift uses CBT-based tools to make you mindful about your feelings, acknowledge them and accept them. This skill can help anyone throughout their life, as anxiety-inducing events never really go away, but we can only change the way we look at them.
|Good For||CBT, Depression, Anxiety|
|More info||Mind Shift|
When looking for a mental health coaching solution, it’s important to remember that coaching is different from therapy.
If you’re looking for a way to pursue your future goals and deal with mild-to-moderate symptoms, mental health coaching could be greatly valuable.
Remember too, that many people may or may not need therapy at certain points but find coaching useful at all stages and vice-versa. They are not interchangeable, but they can be used together successfully or take over alternatively as part of a holistic blended care approach to better mental well-being.
When dealing with mental health issues, individuals face different obstacles, from dealing with the logistics of getting treatment to finding the best therapist. Fortunately, mental health coaching software and other telepsychology tech can often ease the whole process.
Even better, there are now plenty of options on the market to take advantage of, and the field is starting to be regulated more formally.
By helping practitioners reach more patients, spreading awareness on critical subjects, and normalizing therapy, and coaching, the blended care industry continues to look forward to a brighter future. One where patients can enjoy, rather than suffer through healthcare processes, and view them as a pleasure, rather than a burden.
We hope this article helped your search for a great mental health coaching app. If you’re a practitioner looking to help your clients manage symptoms and improve their wellbeing, don’t forget to sign up for your $1 month of Quenza for instant access to all of its mental health coaching tools. Our specialized coaching software will help you deliver your unique solutions as online Activities and Pathways, so you can make an even greater positive impact on their lives.
- ^ Olsen, J. M. (2014). Health coaching: a concept analysis. Nursing Forum, 49(1), 18.
- ^ Jordan, M., & Livingstone, J. B. (2013). Coaching vs psychotherapy in health and wellness: Overlap, dissimilarities, and the potential for collaboration. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 2(4), 20.
- ^ American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-5®). PA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
- ^ Martínez-Pérez, B., De La Torre-Díez, I., & López-Coronado, M. (2015). Privacy and security in mobile health apps: a review and recommendations. Journal of Medical Systems, 39(1), 181.
- ^ Lewis, T. L., & Wyatt, J. C. (2014). mHealth and mobile medical apps: a framework to assess risk and promote safer use. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 16(9), e210.
- ^ Health, S. (2017). How Digital, Health Literacy Drives mHealth Patient Engagement. Retrieved from https://patientengagementhit.com/news/how-digital-health-literacy-drives-mhealth-patient-engagement