Apps are available for everything these days – from personal planning to games and fitness. In addition, there are also apps that claim to help you look after your mental health and well-being. Yet with literally hundreds of mental health apps to choose from – how do you know which one is right for you? Below I’ve listed 10 of the best free mental health apps for 2019.
I’ve written about the best fitness apps for 2019, but let’s take a look at apps that affect our mental health. Mental health is our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Yet for many people our mental health is not as much of a priority as our physical health.
Mental health and illness can no longer be ignored. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder, are now the third most common reason for adults (aged 18 to 44) to receive hospitalization. Furthermore, the United States spends an estimated $201 billion on mental illness each year. For comparison, the next highest is heart conditions, which costs $147 billion each year.
The apps listed below are specifically suited to enhance your well-being and look after your mental health. However, please know that I do not view any of these apps as a substitute for therapy. Apps will never take the place of engaging with someone who can offer professional treatment and analysis that an app simply cannot provide.
While all free, some of these apps are platform-specific (i.e. iPhone only). While the vast majority of these apps do not have peer-reviewed research to support their claims, health experts predict that they will play an important role in the future of mental health care by providing innovative solutions for the self-management of mental health disorders. The apps I’ve chosen below are based on research from multiple aggregate review sites. Without further ado, check out my picks for the best mental health apps for 2019.
iPhone, iWatch & Android
Calm is the perfect app if you are new to meditation. Yet it also offers programs for more advanced users. Try easing your anxiety with guided meditations, sleep stories, breathing programs, and relaxing music. As a side note, Calm was awarded Apple’s “App of the Year” in 2017.
Sleep Alarm Clock
iPhone, iWatch, Android
According to research from Harvard Health School, up to 90% of both children and adults diagnosed with clinical depression also suffer from some kind of sleep deprivation or insomnia. Sleep Alarm Clock is an app that actively monitors your sleep cycle in order to ensure that when you do have to get up, it’s while you’re in your lightest part of your sleep cycle. What does this mean? You’ll naturally wake up easier, with less assistance from the app’s alarm. The app monitors your sleep activity by pulse rate or your phone’s microphone. Then it puts together its own sleep analysis and decides when, exactly, you’re at your lightest sleep cycle. It’s a little creepy, but it’s also quite brilliant. And now it even provides snore prevention.
iPhone, iWatch, Android
Breathe2Relax walks users through breathing exercises to reduce stress, stabilize mood, control anger, and manage anxiety. Designed by the National Center for Telehealth & Technology, this simple and intuitive mobile app can be personalized at a pace the user finds relaxing. It’s touted as helpful for self-starters or those working with a therapist.
iPhone, iWatch, Android
Headspace utilizes hundreds of mindfulness and meditation sessions. It also promises to reduce your daily stress and improve focus by using the app for only a few minutes each day. This app does a terrific job of describing basic concepts in a very user-friendly way with clear instructions.
Games make everything a bit more fun. And when you’re looking to find motivation, fun may be exactly what you need. The app, SuperBetter, is essentially a game that focuses on increasing resilience and motivation in your own life. And it seems to be working. A study by the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia found that when people played SuperBetter for 30 days that their mood improved and symptoms of anxiety and depression decreased.
Moodpath is your pocket-sized “mental health companion”. It asks daily questions in order to assess your well-being and screens for symptoms of depression. The screening progress aims to increase your awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. After a period of two weeks, the app generates an electronic document that you can discuss with a healthcare professional. More than 150 videos and psychological exercises are available to help you understand your mood and strengthen your mental health.
Designed by psychologists and mental health professionals, Pacifica is a wide and diverse toolbox that tackles daily anxiety and stress. The app itself includes things self-help guides, mood-tracking tools, thought journals, daily challenges and goal tracking. Pacifica also includes a health tracker and a peer-support community.
Happify aims to break old and unhealthy patterns in order to form new and healthy habits. An initial questionnaire is used to suggest “tracks” for an individual’s use and your emotional well-being is calculated as a happiness score that you can improve upon each week.
What’s Up? Is more than just a diary and habit-tracker. It’s an amazing free app that uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) methods to teach you dozens of coping mechanisms. I particularly love the “Get Grounded” page, which contains over 100 different questions to pinpoint exactly what you’re feeling. The app’s forum also gives you a place to connect when you’re needing extra support.
Developed by two clinical psychologists, MoodKit helps you learn how to change how you think, and develop self-awareness and healthy attitudes. The journal feature is a great way to practice self-care by reflecting on the day, noting any distressing thoughts and documenting how you feel. MoodKit also uses the foundation of CBT to provide users with over 200 different mood improvement activities.
Do you have any recommended mental health apps you felt that I missed? Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And please register for more great posts like this delivered right to your inbox by signing up for our newsletter below.