10 Mental Health Apps to Try for Stress, Anxiety, and More

written by Carrie Borzillo - Jun 13, 2022

Photo Credit: by Rob Hampson, Unsplash.com
Photo Credit: by Rob Hampson, Unsplash.com

Mental health is on everyone’s minds these days. You can’t scroll through social media, listen to a podcast, or watch a television show without seeing an advertisement for a new app for an online therapist or calming tools — in fact, mental health apps saw a 32% growth in the past year alone.

There’s a good reason for this: Due to the stress and isolation from the COVID-19 pandemic’s lockdown and social distancing mandate, more people are suffering from mental health issues than ever before. Studies on the impact of the pandemic show that there were 53 million new cases of major depressive disorders and 76 million new cases of anxiety disorders in the past year alone.

The obvious benefit to using a mental health app instead of the traditional route of seeing a therapist in person is the convenience. Looking for a new doctor in your health plan is never an easy task and finding mental health providers in your insurance plan often proves even more difficult. Then, when you do find one, there’s often a waitlist for an appointment or their office is far away. Having a therapist right there on our smartphone certainly takes those two issues away.

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That said, while mobile health (a.k.a., mHealth) in general is indeed on the rise, it’s too soon to say whether they are reliable sources of care in the long-term. For example, a 2018 study showed that mental health apps have the “potential” to improve the monitoring and management of mental health symptoms and/or disorders. “However, the majority of the apps that are currently available lack clinically validated evidence of their efficacy. Given the number and pace at which mobile Health (mHealth) apps are being released, further robust research is warranted to develop and test evidence-based programs,” states the study.

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Now that the market is flooded with mental health apps, finding the right one for your needs can be almost as hard as finding a doctor in person. While mobile mental health apps can be useful for many, if you are suffering from severe symptoms of depression or bipolar disorder, please consult your doctor. Here’s an overview of some of the most popular mental health apps…

Mood Lifting Apps

MoodKit: MoodKit was named the Best Overall Mental Health App for 2022 by Healthline. The app, which was developed by two clinical psychologists and based on cognitive behavioral therapy methods, offers approximately 200 activities that help boost your mood, correct negative thinking, and decrease stress, as well as a journal feature and exportable mood charts. As of today, it’s only available for iPhone at the download cost of $4.99.

Moodfit: Not to be confused with the aforementioned MoodKit, Moodfit, which was voted one of the Best Mental Health Apps of 2022 by CNET, also offers tools, insights, and activities to help improve one’s mood. Tools include a mood journal, breathe work, and exercises in gratitude, mindfulness, sleep, nutrition, exercise, and more. The app is free to download but offers a premium membership for more content for $8.99 per month.

Therapy Apps

Talkspace: Talkspace, which has featured Michael Phelps and Demi Lovato as spokespersons, is the go-to app for online therapy for people seeking help with depression, anxiety, stress, and relationship and life management. They match you with a real licensed therapist with at least nine years of experience in your state. You can send your set up live face-to-face sessions with your therapist or you can send them text, audio, and even photos and video messages 27/7 and they promise to answer five days a week. Subscription plans start at $65 per week and they do take health insurance.

BetterHelp: BetterHelp, one of the first and largest online therapy platforms, is similar to Talkspace in that you get paired with a licensed therapist for real-life online one-on-one therapy. It offers live video or audio therapy sessions, unlimited messaging, and financial assistance for those in need. It costs $60 to $90 per week. The main differences between Talkspace and BetterHelp is the former accepts insurance and offers psychiatric help, whereas BetterHelp does not accept insurance and offers psychology services.

Meditation Apps

Headspace: Headspace is one of the many meditation apps on the market geared toward stress release and improving mindfulness. The app, which has options for all levels from beginners to experts, offers a variety of meditations, ranging from three-minutes to deeper 20-minute sessions and even courses. They even have a Star Wars-themed meditation package that includes Chewie guiding you in breathing exercises. Headspace claims the app is proven to reduce stress by 14% in just 10 days. It’s priced at $12.99 per month or $69.99 per year.

Calm: Another top meditation app is Calm, which is known for soothing nature sounds, calming music, breathing techniques, and other calming and meditative offerings. The app, which won Apple’s Best of 2018 Award, is designed to encourage relaxation, mindfulness, and improved sleep. Calm also features celebrities, including Harry Styles, Matthew McConaughey, and Leona Lewis, reading soothing sleep stories. To access all of Calm’s features, users pay $14.99 per month or $69.99 per year.

Stress Relief Apps

COVID Coach: Harvard Medical School recommends COVID Coach, which was created by the Veterans Affairs’ National Center for PTSD, for stress related to the pandemic. While this is listed as a Veterans and service members app, it’s really for anyone needing self-care and mental health support stemming from the pandemic. It provides education about coping during the pandemic, tools for self-care and to improve emotional well-being, trackers to check your mood and measure your growth toward personal goals, and graphs to visualize progress over time. You can set reminders to visit the app each day and work toward your goals, and this app can help you create your own personal support network. It’s free of charge.

Sanvello: Sanvello is another top-rated app geared toward stress and anxiety relief featuring meditations, guided journeys, cognitive therapy tools, daily mood tracking, and more. The app, which has been endorsed by gold medal gymnast Aly Raisman, has various chat groups you can join for your specific issue (from general anxiety disorder to relationship issues and more) for community support, as well as coaching and therapy services. The basic self-care membership costs $8.99/month or $53.99/year, coaching services is the next level up at $50/month, and top tier is their therapy membership at $140 for the initial appointment or $85 on average for follow-up appointments.

Addiction Apps

I Am Sober: Voted the best app for tracking sobriety by GoodRxHealth, the I Am Sober app is free to use and helps users track their time sober — down to the second. It also shows you how much money you’ve saved by being sober and offers ways to build healthy new habits and connect with a large recovery community.

Sober Grid: Sober Grid connects those wishing to get sober with those already in recovery. The virtual support system has a messaging platform for “burning desires” for those who need immediate support. The app is free to download but advanced options are available in memberships starting at $3.99 per month.

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DISCLAIMER

While the above article is based on thorough research, we do not claim to offer a substitute for medical advice from a qualified healthcare provider. The article was written for information and educational purposes only. We aim to provide helpful information to our readers, but cannot provide a treatment, diagnosis, or consultation of any sort, and we are in no way indicating that any particular drug is safe or appropriate for you and your individual needs. To receive professional medical attention, you must see a doctor.