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Mental health apps provide a way to access meditation sessions and contact healthcare professionals to discuss the effects of life changes and environment on a person’s mental health. Most apps are free to download but may require a subscription to access all of the features.

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Please note that the writer of this article has not tried any of these products. All information presented here is purely research-based.

Around 51.5 million adults in the United States had a mental health condition in 2019. Around 13.1 million of those were serious mental health conditions.

The three most common mental health conditions among U.S. adults are anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Additionally, mood disorders are currently the most common cause of hospitalization for every U.S. adult under the age of 45 years, excluding pregnancy and birth.

Mental health apps focus on maintaining or improving mental health using methods such as meditation, hypnosis, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and by providing a valuable support network.

Learn more about meditation apps here.

Many apps are free to download, and these may give people access to a limited number of features. To access all of an app’s features, a person may need to pay for a subscription.

Apps are not a substitute for professional mental health care. Additionally, apps may sell a person’s data. Healthcare professionals must follow all HIPAA laws, whereas apps may be subject to different privacy laws.

Medical News Today chose mental health apps that fit the following criteria:

  • Support: We chose apps that provide support for a range of mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
  • Features: We chose apps that offer different features, such as games, activities, and the ability to talk with licensed therapists.
  • Price: We chose apps that fit a range of budgets, from free features to paying for therapy.
  • Availability: We chose apps that are available for iOS and Android devices as well as desktop computers.

There are several mental health apps available to download. Some may require a subscription to access all of the features.

Calm

Best for beginners

Operating systemsiOS, Android, and desktop
Subscription pricestarts at $69.99 per year

Apple awarded Calm “App of the Year” in 2017. The app aims to reduce anxiety, improve sleep, and promote mindfulness.

People can access Calm on iOS devices, Android devices, and desktop computers.

Calm provides meditation that focuses on sleep, relaxation, and mindful movements. People can also choose from several masterclasses, where mindfulness experts record audio programs.

The app delivers meditation sessions that can help people destress, as well as breathing programs, music, and sounds from nature to aid relaxation and promote better sleep.

Calm is suitable for both beginners and those who already use meditation. The app’s meditation sessions range from 3 minutes to over an hour.

At the time of publishing, Calm offers a 7-day free trial. After this trial, a subscription costs $69.99 per year. Alternatively, a person can purchase a lifetime subscription for $399.99.

Headspace

Best for reducing daily stress

Operating systemsiOS and Android
Subscription pricestarts at $12.99 per month

Headspace uses mindfulness and meditation to help people build relationships, reduce stress, and promote restful sleep.

The app is available on iOS and Android devices.

Headspace offers meditation for work, creativity, body positivity, and focus, among others. This app is suitable for people who are looking to reduce their daily stress by using mindfulness techniques.

At the time of publishing, Headspace offers a 7- or 14-day free trial. After the trial ends, a subscription costs $12.99 per month or $69.99 per year.

Moodnotes

Best mood journal

Operating systemsiOS
Subscription pricestarts at $9.99 per month

Moodnotes is a thought journal and mood diary. People can track their feelings and improve their thinking habits through techniques such as CBT and positive psychology.

This app is only available on iPhone, iPod Touch, and Apple Watch.

Free members can access the following:

  • mood tracking and identifying the cause
  • automatic face scanning
  • uploading and saving photo and video memories
  • self-awareness articles

Premium members can:

  • enter and annotate multiple entries per day
  • monitor their mood statistics
  • gain access to insights on their moods

At the time of publishing, a monthly subscription costs $9.99, and a yearly subscription starts at $29.99.

Sanvello

Best for reducing anxiety

Operating systemsiOS and Android
Subscription pricestarts at $3.99 per month

Sanvello is an app that provides four different paths to help a person find the strategies and resources they require. These paths are:

  • Self-care: This path allows people to track their moods and access guided journeys, coping tools, and progress assessments.
  • Peer support: This path gives people access to peer community boards that discuss techniques and coping tools that have worked for other people with similar conditions.
  • Coaching: With this path, people can connect with a Sanvello coach trained in CBT techniques. People can contact their coach through in-app messages or anonymously join real-time classes with other users.
  • Therapy: This path connects people to licensed therapists in their state. The therapist works with the person’s Sanvello coach to give the individual support.

This app is available on iOS and Android.

Sanvello has a partnership with select insurers and employers. The company can offer select features of this app for free to people who take out insurance or are employees of these companies.

At the time of publishing, a basic subscription costs $3.99. Other subscriptions include:

  • Self-care: This costs $8.99 per month or $53.99 per year.
  • Coaching: This costs $50 per month or $350 per year.
  • Therapy: This costs around $140 for an initial appointment, then around $80 for follow-up appointments.

SuperBetter

Best for children and teenagers

Operating systemsiOS and Android
Subscription pricefree

SuperBetter is a game focusing on increasing resilience and the ability to remain strong, optimistic, and motivated when presented with challenging obstacles in life.

This app is available on iOS and Android devices.

People can choose from condition-specific goals, such as learning coping tools for anxiety, depression, or chronic pain.

The company states that this app is also suitable for teachers who wish to promote resilience, mental health, and social-emotional learning among their students.

The app provides people with a to-do list, such as drinking water, going for a walk, and hugging themselves. Once a person completes an objective, they receive power-up rewards that they can view at any time.

At the time of publishing, SuperBetter is free to download and use.

7 Cups

Best for seeking help anonymously

Operating systemsiOS, Android, and desktop
Subscription priceoffers in-app purchases starting at $3.99

7 Cups provides online therapy and emotional support for anxiety and depression.

It is available on iOS, Android, and desktop computers.

7 Cups has more than 160,000 trained listeners and licensed therapists who are available to speak with anonymously at any time.

People can search for listeners and therapists by specialties, such as bullying, panic attacks, disordered eating, relationship breakups, and more.

Although many of 7 Cup’s features are free to use, people can upgrade starting from $3.99. Additionally, online counseling sessions with a therapist cost $150 per session.

Happify

Best for forming new habits

Operating systemsiOS and Android
Subscription pricestarts at $14.99 per month

Happify uses games and activities to encourage people to develop healthy new habits.

This app is available on iOS and Android devices.

Happify uses CBT, positive psychology, and mindfulness to help people break more negative patterns and form new habits and tools.

The app calculates a happiness score and provides happiness and mental health metrics that people can improve on each week by taking part in activities and games.

At the time of publishing, many of Happify’s features are free to use. However, premium membership starts from $14.99 per month.

Talkspace

Best for counseling

Operating systemsiOS, Android, and desktop
Subscription priceno price listed

Talkspace is a counseling and therapy app. It is available on iOS and Android devices as well as on desktop computers.

People can choose from therapists who specialize in psychiatry or in individual, couples, or teen therapy.

Once a person has signed up to use Talkspace, they complete an initial assessment. Then, they can choose their therapist and begin attending appointments. Also, people can switch therapists at any time.

Talkspace provides in-network therapists for several insurance companies.

The app also offers three therapy subscriptions:

  • Plus: This plan offers unlimited text, video, and audio messaging, and a person’s therapist is available 5 days per week.
  • Premium: This plan offers all the features of the Plus plan, with the addition of one 30-minute live session per month.
  • Ultimate: This plan offers all the features of the Plus plan, with the addition of four 30-minute live sessions per month.

The price of a subscription depends on which state a person resides in.

Most mental health apps use mindfulness and CBT techniques to help people improve their mental health.

Mindfulness meditation is a technique that usually involves focusing on breathing while sitting or lying down or engaging in a gentle activity such as walking. The goal of mindfulness meditation is to recognize negative thoughts and feelings as distracting events and focus on an object or activity such as breathing.

CBT works by encouraging people to form new habits and ways of thinking to reduce the symptoms of mental health conditions. For example, CBT for a person with depression may include encouraging them to take steps toward going to social events and meeting up with friends and family.

Studies into apps that use these techniques — such as Calm, Headspace, and SuperBetter — seem to suggest that engaging in mindfulness meditation and CBT through an app can improve mental health. For example:

  • A 2019 study into the effectiveness of Calm among 88 college students found that the app’s mindfulness meditation reduced stress and improved mindfulness and self-compassion.
  • A 2018 study into the effectiveness of Headspace found that the app had a more positive effect on stress and irritability than a mindfulness meditation audiobook.
  • A 2015 study into SuperBetter found that using the app for 10 minutes per day for 1 month reduced symptoms of depression in comparison with participants who were on a waiting list.

Below are some frequently asked questions about mental health apps.

What else can I do to improve my mental health?

One way to improve mental health is by engaging in regular exercise.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), getting regular exercise can help with:

People should try to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day. However, exercising for a shorter amount of time is still more beneficial than not exercising at all.

Learn more about the benefits of exercise here.

Why should I track my mood changes?

Tracking mood changes over short- and long-term periods can help people identify triggers and work on tools to improve their moods.

For example, a person may notice that their mood changes at a certain point during the day. Tracking mood changes can help that person identify what triggers the mood change each day.

Tracking mood changes may also be beneficial during an appointment with a healthcare professional to discuss mental health. A person may find it easier to show the healthcare professional their mood changes and explain how they impact their everyday life.

When should I contact a doctor?

People may wish to contact a doctor if they experience any of the following:

  • excessive feelings of worry and fear
  • profound sadness
  • changes in mood, sleeping, or eating habits
  • sudden mood shifts or more mood shifts than usual
  • anger and irritability
  • fatigue
  • confusion or difficulty concentrating
  • feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • avoidance of social activities

Mental health apps typically use mindfulness meditation and CBT techniques to help improve a person’s self-esteem and help them find coping tools for mental health conditions.

Some apps require subscription purchases to access the full range of features. However, some also offer free features if a person has insurance with a partnered insurance company.