The Best Apps to Support Your Mental Health

It’s very common to use apps and other online resources to research symptoms and find information that can help you make more informed decisions about your health and well-being. But when you’re struggling with a mental health concern, have you ever tried using an app as an additional layer of support? If you never have, there are plenty of reasons you may want to consider giving mental health apps a try.

There are fitness apps that map your run and track your miles, and there are apps that let you find your favorite coffee shop, order your drink, redeem rewards, and skip the checkout line. Why not take the same approach to your own mental health? A growing number of mental health apps provide features that can directly impact an individual’s behavioral health and add an extra layer of support for those in need. 

With the holidays coming up, giving back to others starts with taking care of yourself. Let’s explore how mental health apps can offer support, resources, and information to those dealing with mental health challenges this holiday season.

What are Mental Health Apps?

Mental health apps are any type of mobile device app designed to provide tools or resources that support mental health. Whether the app helps facilitate the search for a therapist or provides in-app resources like journaling prompts or a symptom tracker, there are many options to choose from.

Regardless of their function, there is evidence that these apps are an effective vehicle for mental health treatment delivery, with promising research to support their use. It is important to note that while apps may be effective, they are not intended as a replacement for therapy. Research suggests that they function best as a complement to a good therapeutic relationship with a trusted mental health provider.

The Benefits of Mental Health Apps

In general, mental health apps work best when used in conjunction with therapy. Combining a trusted and productive relationship with a behavioral healthcare provider, along with the resources provided by different apps, can be very valuable.

Here are some benefits clients may experience when using these mental health apps.

Improved symptom tracking. Behavioral healthcare providers suggest using a mental health app as a convenient place for clients to track their symptoms. Many of these apps have fantastic symptom trackers that help identify ongoing thoughts and patterns that can be addressed through therapy.

Reinforce the skills learned in therapy. Even if a client is being seen by a mental health provider a couple of times a week, it still leaves a lot of time when they are alone outside of the clinician’s care. A good mental health app can help reinforce skills and coping mechanisms learned in therapy by providing reminders, resources, and tools that help clients be more mindful on a daily basis.

Provide reminders and goal tracking. Goals are much easier to achieve when they are measured and tracked. Many of the most popular mental health apps provide customized reminders and goal tracking to help make goals like being more active or meditating daily more achievable.

The Best Mental Health Apps to Support Different Mental Health Conditions

Regardless of their ongoing needs, most people can benefit from using mental health apps. They are particularly useful for people who are searching for a therapist, and many apps like Better Help or Teen Counseling provide resources that make this task easier. 

With the ongoing shortage of mental health providers (research suggests a shortage of between 14,280 to 31,091 psychiatrists by 2024), these apps may be able to help clients fill the void until they find an available clinician. Here are some of the best apps available today.

The Best Overall Mental Health App: Moodfit

Moodfit is an excellent overall mental health app that offers features like mood tracking and daily goal reminders. Users start by filling out a questionnaire to help them establish a baseline for their symptoms and mindset, then use the tools and resources within the app to help them be more proactive in developing better mental health habits. There’s even a section of the app offering cognitive behavioral therapy strategies for modifying negative thought patterns. The basic app is free, with premium features priced at $40 per year.

The Best App for Suicide Prevention: Better Stop Suicide

If you’re working with clients who are suicidal, Better Stop Suicide is a great app that may help. It offers techniques that people can use to slow their negative thoughts, calm emotions, and get better sleep. There’s even a section for important contacts that users can fill out to ensure they always have a number handy if they feel the urge to self-harm.

The app is free, but it’s important to note that it does not have resources that can help people who are in crisis. Those clients would be better served by contacting emergency services or calling the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988 for 24/7 free, confidential support.

The Best App for Depression: Depression CBT Self-Help Guide or Sanvello

While the Depression CBT Self-Help Guide has been reviewed as a great free app for individuals with depression, it’s important to note that it’s only available on Android. This app offers simple activities based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that can educate users about depression and provide tips for improving their symptoms.

Another terrific free app that’s more widely available is Sanvello, which is helpful to individuals with depression or anxiety. The techniques used within the app’s activities have been validated by clinicians and provide users with tools they can use to track their mood, build confidence, and identify ongoing behavioral patterns. There’s even an anonymous community within the app that can help people feel more supported.

The Best App for Anxiety: MindShift CBT

MindShift CBT is a practical, free app with excellent cognitive behavioral therapy tools and techniques that can help users better handle their anxiety. Whether a client has social anxiety, a specific phobia, or a more generalized anxiety disorder, this app can help them adjust their thinking and behavioral patterns to improve their symptoms and develop healthier habits.

The Best App for Stress: iBreathe

If you’re experiencing stress due to work, health challenges, or any other reason, the iBreathe app is a simple tool that can help provide support. The free app contains only one feature – deep breathing exercises that can be used to focus and center during stressful moments. These deep breathing exercises can help slow the heart rate and calm rapid breathing and can be set with prompts for ease of use.

Explore More Mental Health Apps

There are so many mental health apps on the market to choose from. Before making a recommendation, it’s important to remind clients that apps are not a replacement for therapy. To explore more options for apps that may fit your particular need, check out the following resources:

Harvard Health Publishing on Mental Health Mobile Apps

Psych Central: The Best Evidence-based Mental Health Apps of 2022

The Best Mental Health Apps, According to Privacy Experts

CNETs Review of the Best Mental Health Apps for 2022

Choosing the Best Mental Health App for Your Specific Needs

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