Mental health and therapy apps are mobile applications designed to help individuals improve their emotional well-being and address common mental health issues.
Mental health apps support individuals with mindfulness, meditation, sleep improvement and stress management. Therapy apps — on the other hand — are specifically designed to provide access to professional therapy and counseling services through digital platforms. These types of apps offer various forms of therapy, including online talk therapy and psychiatric care.
In this article, we will review the best mental health and therapy apps to provide you with all the necessary information to form an unbiased opinion.
Best mental health apps: shortlist
- Sensa — best mental health and therapy app for stress relief
- Headspace — best anxiety-reducing mental and therapy app
- BetterHelp — best evidence-based mental health app for therapy
- Calm — best relaxation app for sleep
- Yours App — best mental health app for meditation
- Talkspace — best therapy app for depression
- MindDoc — best mental health app for self-management
How to choose the best mental health app?
When choosing the best mental health apps, it is important to pay attention to certain criteria. Here is a list of key factors.
|Price||Cost of the app (ranging from free versions to $396.00/month)|
|Customer feedback||Unbiased product reviews, ratings|
|Features and functionality||In-app features for mental health|
|Data privacy and security||Policy, compliance, confidentiality|
- Ease of use. The app should have a user-friendly interface, proper customer support and intuitive navigation to ensure easy access and a positive user experience.
- Price. Consider the cost of the app, whether it is a one-time purchase or a subscription-based service. Also, if it offers value for money based on its features and functionalities.
- Customer feedback. Read reviews and ratings from other users to gauge their satisfaction with the app, its effectiveness, and whether it addresses their mental health needs.
- Features and functionality. Evaluate the range of features available in the app, such as mood tracking, guided meditations, CBT exercises, journaling, and goal setting. Ensure they align with your specific mental health goals and preferences.
Best mental health and therapy apps in 2023: overview
We have thoroughly reviewed all the important factors required for an extensive overview. This includes the product features, functionality, scientific evidence and pricing.
The goal is to give you the best option to support your mental health needs, therefore, each app from the list is chosen from a specific category based on its most significant use case. While there are clearly a lot of mental health and therapy apps in the market, it is important to choose the one that suits your needs the best.
Here is a comprehensive overview of the best and most relevant mental health and therapy apps.
1. Sensa — best mental health and therapy app for stress relief
It offers a range of features based on the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that can provide stress relief. This type of therapy helps you identify irrational thought and behavior patterns and replace them with more realistic and helpful thoughts to improve your mental well-being.
Research has shown that using the Sensa mobile app was related to decreased depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms.
Sensa is available on iOS and Android devices. It offers multiple monthly subscription plan options:
|1-month plan||$29.99, billed monthly|
|3-month plan||$59.97, billed every 3 months ($19.99 per month)|
|6-month plan||$89.94, billed every 6 months ($14.99 per month)|
For an additional cost, the app provides added functionalities like a collection of mindful recipes and guided meditation sessions.
2. Headspace — best anxiety-reducing mental and therapy app
Headspace is a widely recognized mental health app offering guided meditation and mindfulness exercises to reduce anxiety. It provides users with tools to ease stress, improve focus, and enhance overall well-being.
According to scientific evidence, the use of Headspace reduced depression in 75% of reviewed studies that evaluated it as an outcome. Based on user reviews, the app is more suitable for individuals who are new to the practice or require additional guidance in their journey.
Headspace is available on iOS, Android, and web browsers.
The app offers a free download with trial access and limited features. To unlock full access, you can upgrade to:
|Headspace Plus||$12.99/month with a 7-day trial|
|Yearly||Get 14 days free with a $69.99 annual subscription|
Student and family plans are also available.
3. BetterHelp — best evidence-based mental health app for therapy
BetterHelp is a prominent online therapy provider offering accessible and convenient mental health services. The platform connects users with licensed therapists who can address a wide range of mental health concerns through web-based therapy sessions.
According to a research study, BetterHelp users experienced significantly reduced depression symptom severity after engaging with the platform. The app has also gained positive reviews for its convenience and accessibility.
BetterHelp costs from $240.00 to $360.00 per month. The pricing may be higher based on individual preferences, location, and therapy availability. You can also apply for financial aid.
4. Calm — best relaxation app for sleep
Calm is a comprehensive mental health app focusing on reducing anxiety, improving sleep, and promoting relaxation. It aims to create a serene and calming experience for users by providing sleep stories, breath exercises, movement practices, mindfulness lessons and more.
Evidence shows that using Calm may improve sleep — which could also lead to increased productivity.
Calm is available on Android and iOS devices and has received positive feedback for its content quality and calming experience.
The app is free to download. Choosing to sign up for a 7-day trial, will automatically enroll you for Calm Premium, which costs $69.99/year or $14.99/month. You can cancel up to 1 day before your trial ends to avoid being charged. Calm also offers a lifetime membership for $399.99.
5. Yours App — best mental health app for meditation
Yours App is a mental health app provider that assists users with managing their mental health and achieving a better quality of life. It focuses on meditation in tandem with autonomous sensory meridian (ASMR) practices. The app provides a convenient access to mental health resources and simulates sensory content such as whispering, crisp sounds, slow movements and personal attention.
Given the amount of meditation and mindfulness features that the platform offers, YoursApp stands out for its cheaper price compared to most of the other popular mental health apps.
Yours App is available on iOS and Android devices. The app offers a 7-day free trial with 2 subscription options of $6.99/month or $59.99/year.
6. Talkspace — best therapy app for depression
Talkspace is an app connecting users with licensed therapists through online therapy sessions. It provides a convenient and accessible platform for individuals seeking professional mental health support. Talkspace stands out for being the most insurance-covered therapy service in the United States.
Research studies have found Talkspace online therapy to be an effective treatment for anxiety and depression.
The app is available on iOS, Android, and web browsers. Talkspace offers 3 therapy subscription plans:
|Unlimited Messaging Therapy Plus||$260.00/month|
|Unlimited Messaging Therapy Premium||$316.00/month|
|Unlimited Messaging Therapy Ultimate||$396.00/month|
7. MindDoc — best mental health app for self-management
MindDoc is a mental health app that helps individuals track and monitor their mood and emotional well-being. It offers daily assessments and interactive exercises to gain insights into mental health patterns and potential symptoms of depression, anxiety, or stress.
The app is available on iOS and Android devices. It can be accessed for free with more advanced features available for a subscription fee that starts from $29.99 for 3 months, $44.99 for 6 months, or $69.99 for 1 year.
How did we compile the list of the top mental health apps?
There were several key factors in place when compiling the best mental health apps. Here are the criteria:
- Pricing model. We evaluated the app’s cost — if it entails a one-time purchase or a subscription-based service. We also checked if it provides value for money based on its features and capabilities.
- Customer feedback. We examined the reviews and ratings from other users to assess their opinion of the application — its effectiveness. Also, whether it adequately addresses their mental health requirements.
- Features and use cases. We evaluated the array of features offered by the app to ensure they align with specific mental health objectives and preferences.
- Brand reputation. We looked at the platforms that have a strong market presence and validation from the customer base.
- Pros and cons. We compared the benefits and the disadvantages of each app to showcase their maximum capabilities.
Comparing the best mental health apps
|App||Price||Ratings||Use case||Positive reviews||Negative reviews|
|Sensa||Starting from $29.99/month||iOS - 4.7/5 Android - 4.5/5||Stress relief||Tracking features and insights, app's user-friendly interface||Sensors are not always accurate, too expensive|
|$12.99/month||iOS - 4.8/5 Android - 4.7/5||Meditation, mindfulness, stress relief||Easy-to-follow exercises, varied content||Too simplistic, repetitive|
|Starting from $240.00/month||iOS - 4.6/5 Android - 4.4/5||Therapy||Convenient, affordable, wide network of therapists, easy to communicate||Therapists are not always responsive, quality may vary|
What are mental health apps?
Mental health apps help individuals improve their emotional well-being, address common mental health issues, and practice mindfulness and self-care techniques.
Typically used on smartphones or tablets, these apps offer convenient and accessible resources for mental health support. They can also serve various needs such as providing tools for managing stress, anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental health conditions.
When it comes to targeting psychological conditions, mental health apps provide specific functions — including guided meditation, relaxation techniques, mood monitoring, and sleep aid. They also provide educational material related to mental health and overall wellness.
What are therapy apps?
Therapy apps provide support, tools, and resources to improve mental well-being and address common mental health concerns. They are intended to supplement traditional therapy or serve as standalone tools for self-help and self-care.
These apps often incorporate evidence-based therapies and interventions, offering users activities, techniques, and guidance to manage their mental health on a daily basis. Many of the therapy apps aim to enhance overall wellness, improve focus and productivity while promoting positive thinking.
The key features of these apps include helping users track their mood, set goals, develop healthy habits, and provide ongoing support beyond therapy sessions or office visits.
Mental health apps vs. therapy apps
The difference between mental health apps and therapy apps lies in their focus and functionality. While both types of apps aim to address mental health issues, they approach it from different perspectives and offer distinct features.
|Features||Mental health apps||Therapy apps|
|Targeted conditions||Psychological and emotional health||Same as mental health apps, but more specialized|
|Functionality||Self-management, cognition improvement, skills training, social support, symptom tracking, passive data collection||Online talk therapy, psychiatric care|
|Clinical care stages||Immediate crisis intervention, primary treatment, supplement to in-person therapy, post-treatment condition management||Supplement to in-person therapy, online therapy sessions|
|Access to professionals||Limited or no direct access to licensed therapists||Direct access to licensed therapists|
|Communication||Messaging, forums, community support||Text messaging, voice calls, video sessions|
|Treatment plans||Personalized self-management and support||Personalized treatment plans by licensed therapists|
|Effectiveness||Limited availability of evidence-based apps||Focus on professional therapy with licensed therapists|
How do mental health apps work?
Mental health apps typically work by providing assessments, educational resources, self-tracking, tools, community support, and progress tracking. Users start by assessing their mental health state and setting goals.
The apps offer educational content to enhance mental health knowledge. Self-tracking features allow users to monitor mood, sleep, and stress levels. Tools like guided meditations, breathing exercises, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques help users manage their mental health.
Some apps cultivate a community through discussion forums and peer support. Progress tracking features show users their progress and provide feedback.
It's important to note that while these apps can be beneficial, they are not a substitute for professional therapy or treatment.
Types of mental health apps
Mental health apps come in various types — each with its own focus and functionality. These apps aim to provide support, tools, and resources to help individuals manage their mental health and well-being. Here are some expanded details on the different types of mental health apps:
- Depression and anxiety. Focus on helping individuals cope with stress and manage anxiety symptoms. These apps may incorporate cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques, relaxation exercises, and stress management tools. Users can learn effective strategies to challenge negative thinking patterns, practice relaxation techniques, and develop healthier coping mechanisms.
- Meditation and mindfulness. Provide relaxation, stress reduction, and mindfulness practices. They offer guided meditation sessions, breathing exercises, and to help individuals calm their minds, improve focus, and cultivate a sense of well-being.
- Therapy. Offer convenient access to licensed therapists or counselors through online platforms. Users can communicate with professionals via messaging, phone calls, or video sessions. Therapy apps provide a flexible and affordable option for individuals seeking therapy or counseling support from the comfort of their own homes.
- Mood tracking and self-care. Assist users in monitoring and understanding their mood, emotions, and daily activities. They often include features to track mood fluctuations, set goals, and record self-care activities. By providing insights into patterns and triggers, these apps can help individuals gain a better understanding of their mental well-being and identify strategies for self-care.
- Sleep improvement. Aim to enhance sleep quality and establish healthy sleep habits. These apps provide soothing sounds, bedtime stories, guided meditations for sleep, and sleep tracking features. By offering relaxation techniques and promoting better sleep hygiene, they can help individuals with restful and rejuvenating sleep.
Do mental health apps work?
Yes. Mental health apps can provide temporary assistance, but they should not replace professional therapy.
It is recommended to use mental health apps alongside professional guidance. Even though evidence supports their use, there is a limited amount of comprehensive research.
One challenge is the lack of evidence-based apps available on the market and the limited number of studies that consolidate the disorder-specific evidence. This gap makes it difficult to assess the overall effectiveness of mental health apps.
What are the pros and cons of using mental health apps?
The use of mental health apps has pros and cons. Here is a list of them:
- Accessibility and convenience. Immediate access to support and resources anytime, anywhere.
- Anonymity and privacy. Seek treatment options without involving others, providing a level of privacy.
- Lower cost. Many apps are free or affordable compared to traditional mental health services.
- Introduction to care. Serve as an entry point for individuals hesitant to seek professional help.
- Support and monitoring. Complement traditional therapy, reinforce skills, and offer ongoing support.
- Inadequate substitute for professional help. Not sufficient for serious mental health conditions or personalized treatments.
- Limited customization. Lack of the ability to tailor interventions based on individual needs and challenges.
- Efficacy and evidence. Effectiveness varies — and the market lacks evidence-based apps.
- Lack of clinical oversight. Self-guided usage may have limitations without professional guidance.
Expert opinion on mental health apps
Andrew Huberman — a neuroscientist and professor at Stanford University — has shown support for the use of mental health apps.
According to him, mental health apps can be a helpful tool for people who are trying to manage their psychological health and improve overall well-being. However, Dr. Huberman also stated the fact that mental health apps are not a replacement for professional help.
If you are struggling with your mental health, you should talk to a doctor or therapist.
Seeing a mental health professional: when should you do it?
There are many reasons why you might want to see a mental health professional. Here are a few of the most common reasons:
- You are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition. This could include depression, anxiety, stress, or other mental health problems.
- You are struggling with difficult life changes or challenges. This could include a job loss, a death in the family, or a major life transition.
- You are feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope with your emotions. You may feel like you are at your very bottom and don't know what to do.
- You are concerned about your mental health or the mental health of someone you care about.
If you are worried about your mental health or somebody else’s, it is important to seek help. A mental health professional can help you assess your symptoms, develop a treatment plan, and support you on your journey to recovery.
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Is there an app for depressed people?
Yes. Sensa is a mental health app that provides support and assistance to improve mental well-being. It offers a range of features based on the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help individuals manage negative symptoms associated with anxiety, chronic stress, or depression.
Why is Headspace so popular?
Headspace app is popular for providing numerous benefits — such as guided meditations, user-friendly interface, varied content, structured programs, celebrity endorsements, and research partnerships. It also offers accessible mindfulness and relaxation tools for mental well-being.
How do I seek help for my mental health?
Seek mental health support by contacting helplines and therapists. You can also consider online options, and explore mental health apps and resources. However, be aware that for a personalized treatment, it is recommended to seek professional help.
- School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University. Do mental health mobile apps work: evidence and recommendations for designing high-efficacy mental health mobile apps.
- Seattle Children's Research Institute. Efficacy and Conflicts of Interest in Randomized Controlled Trials Evaluating Headspace and Calm Apps: Systematic Review.
- University of California, Berkeley. Effectiveness of a Multimodal Digital Psychotherapy Platform for Adult Depression: A Naturalistic Feasibility Study.
- Lithuania Business University of Applied Sciences. Sensa Mobile App for Managing Stress, Anxiety, and Depression Symptoms: Pilot Cohort Study.
- College of Health Solutions, Arizona State University. The Indirect Effects of a Mindfulness Mobile App on Productivity Through Changes in Sleep Among Retail Employees: Secondary Analysis.