Mental Health Apps2019-06-13T15:30:20-05:00

Mental Health Apps

What are mental health apps?

You might already use apps to help you in many ways: to help you get from place to place, to connect and share things with friends, or to set reminders and alarms. But you may not be aware that there are thousands of apps out there that focus on mental health. Examples of mental health apps include mindfulness meditation apps, symptom tracking apps, therapy apps (such as a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy apps) and more.

How do I use these apps, and what are the benefits?

You can use apps on their own, in your transition to face-to-face treatment, or as an add-on to therapy you are already receiving. There are a lot of great benefits to using mental health apps; they are usually low cost, and they can be used “on the go”. When you use a mental health app you don’t have to grapple with making appointments, waitlists, or insurance. On top of that, lots of apps offer creative and fun ways to manage mental health, so you might have some fun when you use them!

Are there apps specifically for stress?

There are some apps out there that are specifically designed to help with stress management. Many of these apps provide a digital form of techniques and strategies that have been long been recommended for stress management; for example deep breathing techniques, or mindfulness meditation.

How do I find the right stress management app?

One resource that can help you find a mental health app is PsyberGuide.org. PsyberGuide is a non-profit project, funded by One Mind, that provides objective reviews of mental health apps. Apps are scored on credibility, user experience, and data transparency, so you can choose an app based on the score that’s most important to you. To learn more about PsyberGuide’s review process, click here.

Here are some stress management apps which have been reviewed by PsyberGuide which may be helpful as stress-management tools. For more information and to explore more stress management apps, visit the PsyberGuide App Guide.

 

Mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness is a practice that aims to help people learn to bring their attention to the present moment, and in turn, get less carried away by thoughts, fears, or anxieties about the past or the future. Mindfulness has been shown to be effective in reducing overall stress (e.g Grossman et al., 2004) and research suggests that smartphone-delivered mindfulness can enhance overall well-being and help mitigate symptoms of stress & anxiety, depression, and poor sleep (Howells, Ivtzan, Eiroa-Orosa, 2014).

Headspace

Headspace provides meditations to help with concentration, mood, stress and anxiety, and more. Users can complete a 10-session free trial before purchasing subscription access to a wider variety of sessions and programs.
Cost: Free
Platforms: iOS, Android

Insight Timer

Insight Timer is a meditation app with over 6,000 available meditations, which can be filtered based by criteria like meditation type and topic, popularity, age, etc. It also features a customizable meditation timer with a range of ambient sounds and bells.
Cost: Free
Platforms: iOS, Android

iSleep Easy

iSleep Easy contains a range of guided meditations specifically to help users fall asleep and sleep better. Users can curate playlists and customize audio tracks. The app also provides tips for creating a more relaxing sleeping environment.
Cost: Free
Platforms: iOS, Android

 

 

Practicing Wellness

Apps for overall wellness often take a multimodal approach, encompassing a number of stress management techniques, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, relaxation, and organizational techniques like goal-setting (Richardson & Rothsein, 2008). Goal-setting may be particularly useful for those coping with organizational or job stress (Ivancevich et al., 1990).

Happify: For Stress & Worry

Happify aims to improve overall well-being and happiness by encouraging users to spend a few minutes every day completing activities based on positive psychology, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness.
Cost: Free
Platforms: iOS, Android

Pacifica

Based on principles of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Pacifica has a range of features: users can track how they are feeling, build meditation and gratitude skills, set goals and daily challenges, and learn and practice relaxation techniques.
Cost: Free
Platforms: iOS, Android

SuperBetter

SuperBetter is a video-game style app in which users create a Secret Identity and progress through the game by completing quests. Quests consist of self-care activities, for example drinking water, or reaching out to an old friend.
Cost: Free
Platforms: iOS, Android

 

 

Manage the moment

Sometimes, stress can become overwhelming and we may need in-the-moment support to help us manage. Some evidence-based techniques for managing stress include diaphragmatic breathing and cognitive behavioral therapy (Varvogli & Darviri, 2011). These apps aim to provide support for situations that may be stressful or overwhelming.

ReachOut Breathe

The goal of ReachOut Breathe is to help users slow down, and control their breathing, which can help with recovery from symptoms of stress. The app includes a feature to detect users’ heart rate in real-time through the device camera.
Cost: Free
Platforms: iOS

Serenita

Serenita is designed to track and manage stress levels through breathing techniques, symptom tracking and short, interactive exercises. It includes a breathing exercise and animated guide to direct the user when to inhale, hold, and exhale the breath.
Cost: Free
Platforms: iOS, Android

Woebot

Woebot is an AI-powered chatbot that guides users through managing distressing thoughts and feelings with principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). The app invites users to communicate with Woebot through a text-messaging interface.
Cost: Free
Platforms: iOS, Android

 

 

App for those who’ve served

A number of apps have been developed specifically to help veterans and military personnel cope with stress, although these apps may also be useful to anyone interested in learning stress management skills.

PTSD Coach

This app is developed for service members who may be experiencing symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and contains educational information about PTSD, a checklist to help with diagnosis, skills for managing symptoms, and resources for getting support.
Cost: Free
Platforms: iOS, Android

Virtual Hope Box

This multi-media app provides relaxation techniques, coping skills, and activities to reduce stress. Activities include distraction games that require focus, artistic activities with a focus on gratitude, and photo galleries.
Cost: Free
Platforms: iOS, Android

Tactical Breather

Tactical Breather uses mostly verbal instruction with guided mindfulness and breathing exercises for stress management. The app offers a visual aid designed as a circle with a timer that changes color as one follows the instructed audio.
Cost: Free
Platforms: iOS, Android