The 7 Best Mental Health Apps of 2020

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Our Top Picks

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Moodfit

Moodfit mental health app

Moodfit

Pros
  • Adaptable based on your goals

  • Ability to track daily progress

  • Visual insights with actionable exercises

  • Daily reminders to keep you on track

  • Customizable based on your needs and goals

Cons
  • Lacks access to professional help

  • May lead to self-diagnose

  • Some advanced features have additional costs

  • Tracking moods can be time-consuming

  • Lack of progress may cause feelings of frustration

Available on GooglePlay, Moodfit is a free mental health app whose tools and insight are meant to “shape up” your mood. Similar to the way you might decide to get into physical shape, this app is meant to help you get into mental shape.

Whether you’re looking to better understand your feelings, or you’re experiencing anxiety, depression, or high levels of stress, Moodfit is designed to help you feel better.

Here's the gist of how it works: There’s a questionnaire that will help you determine the severity of the symptoms, as well as many articles and audio files that can help you better understand what you’re experiencing.

Moodfit also allows you to track your moods. Over time, you’ll better understand what types of things affect your feelings—like sleep, medication, and exercise. The app offers actionable insights into what affects your mood and provides strategies for feeling better.

There’s a cognitive behavioral therapy portion of the app which can teach you how to dispute overly negative thoughts. There’s a thought record that provides strategies for modifying irrational thoughts so you can learn how to think differently. 

You’ll also learn new skills, like gratitude and mindfulness, in just a few minutes per day. 

You can even use the app to create and test your own experiments. For example, if you suspect a certain food (like gluten) may be affecting your mood, the app allows you to track that.

The app also helps you understand your medications and therapy better. It assists in identifying what treatment strategies are working best so you can gain a better understanding of how to improve your symptoms.

Best for Learning Coping Skills: MoodMission

Mood Mission Mental Health App

Mood Mission

Pros
  • Developed by mental health professionals

  • Supported by randomized-controlled trials

  • In-app rewards to increase motivation

  • Mood-boosting activities when you are low or anxious

  • Evidence-based CBT activities for depression and anxiety

Cons
  • Initial questionnaire can be overwhelming

  • Options are limited to pre-selected "missions"

  • Does not include access to professional help

  • Requires regular use for increased personalization

  • Some of the activity options may be time-consuming or difficult

MoodMission is an app that is meant to help people who are dealing with stress, anxiety, or depression. The app recommends “missions” based on how the user is feeling.

Monash University is conducting research on the app and how it affects users. To help them gather data, users are asked to complete six surveys (that take about five minutes each) before unlocking the app. Survey questions cover topics such as emotions and general well-being.

Each “mission” is an activity meant to improve your mood or skills. Missions may include things such as:

  • Emotion-based activities like breathing exercises
  • Behavior-based activities like learning how to knit, crochet, or sew
  • Physical activities such as push-ups
  • Thought-based activities such as learning how to reframe negative thoughts

Simply select how you’re feeling (such as anxious, depressed or neither) and then identify how distressing your emotions are. Choose from a list of options to best identify the problem you’re experiencing, such as “I can’t stop thinking about something,” or “I can’t quite put my finger on it.”

Based on your responses, the app suggests five different missions. Each mission contains objections and an explanation of how the activity may help. 

You can then choose to accept a mission. After completing the mission, rate how distressed you feel.

There’s a mission log that shows all completed missions and you’ll be assigned ranks as you progress through the app. The goal is to identify simple but effective strategies for boosting your mood. 

Best for Therapy: Talkspace

Talkspace Mental Health App

Talkspace

4.5
Pros
  • Ability to talk to a licensed mental health professional

  • Therapists can diagnose and treat different conditions

  • Good range of available price options

  • Numerous ways to communicate with your therapist

  • Conversations are private and secure

Cons
  • More expensive than some other apps

  • Not appropriate for severe mental health issues

  • Limited range of therapeutic approaches

  • Therapist communication styles may not suit your needs

  • Therapist evaluation surveys can be aggravating

Talkspace connects you with a licensed mental health professional so you can receive therapy from your digital devices (computer, tablet, or smartphone). All of the therapists at Talkspace have over 3,000 hours of clinical experience and they’ve been carefully trained to provide online therapy.

Therapists often have specific training in areas such as cognitive behavioral therapy, existential-humanistic approaches, dialectical behavioral therapy, psychodynamic, and mindfulness. 

For $65, you can get unlimited messaging therapy with your therapist. You can send text, video, and audio messages to your therapist whenever you’d like and you’ll get a response one to two times per day five days per week. If you’d like to have a live conversation, you can request to schedule a video chat. For $79 a week, you’ll get unlimited messaging plus one live session with your therapist each month. For $99 a week, you can get unlimited messaging plus four live sessions each month. They also offer a one-week free trial.

All conversations carry over from one device to another and the app uses banking-grade encryption to keep your dialogue safe and confidential.

Best for Stress Relief: Sanvello

Sanvello mental health app

Sanvello

Pros
  • Effectiveness backed by research

  • Costs may be covered by health insurance

  • Provides different options based on your needs

  • Allows you to connect with peers who understand what you're going through

  • Ability to access a licensed therapist when you need more support

Cons
  • May not be appropriate for severe mental health conditions

  • Requires a monthly subscription to access advanced features

  • Premium add-on features such as coaching and psychotherapy can be pricey if not covered by insurance

  • Lack of clarity on the credentials of "coaches"

  • Therapy option is not available in all states

Sanvello’s mission to “help people build the life skills they need, anytime, anywhere, in any way they choose.” It provides clinically validated techniques for dealing with stress, anxiety, and depression. 

In a randomized study of 500 adults with mild to moderate anxiety and depression, the tools offered by Sanvello were shown to decrease symptoms. The effects lasted even after participants stopped using the app.

Sanvello provides users with cognitive behavioral therapy tools. They teach mindfulness skills and provide mood and health tracking tools that can be used to improve mental and physical health. 

When you download Sanvello, you’ll be asked to track your mood on a daily basis. The app provides simple questions that help you label your emotions and identify patterns in your mood.

There are also guided journeys that may help you feel more in control of your life. The app will also help you build lifelong skills that can help you build confidence and feel better. There are also a variety of tools that can help you cope with specific issues, such as public speaking, test-taking, and morning dread. 

The app provides progress assessments that can help you track where you are and set goals for the future.

There’s also a community that allows you to connect with another anonymously. Share advice, ask questions, or talk to others who understand what you’re going through.

Sanvello is available on Google Play and in the App store. There’s a free version of the app. The premium version is $8.99 a month. The premium version grants full access to all of the in-app digital self-care content, such as the Guided journeys and meditations.

Best for Meditation: Headspace

Headspace mental health app

Headspace

Pros
  • Accessible meditation options for people of all skill levels

  • Great selection of informational content available to all users

  • Often have promotions for free or discounted memberships

  • Quick and easy-to-use

  • Track and see your daily meditation progress

Cons
  • The free options are shorter and limited

  • After your free 10 sessions, you'll need to pay to subscribe

  • Requires discipline to stick to your goals

  • Advanced users may be frustrated by introductory content

  • It's not appropriate if you are having a more serious mental health issue

Started by Andy Puddicombe, a Buddhist monk whose meditation training took him around the world, Headspace is a meditation app that can help you learn how to live mindfully. Each day offers a bite-sized guided meditation to millions of users in more than 190 countries.

There are a variety of themed sessions on everything from stress and sleep to focus and anxiety. And there are event SOS exercises you can do in the event of an emotional crisis.

You can get a free 10-day trial to Headspace by downloading the app. The initial sessions walk you through the essential steps of meditation. A calm voice guides you through the fundamentals, such as “noticing how your body feels,” and “breathing in through the nose, out through the mouth.”

After the initial trial, Headspace costs $12.99 per month. You can also purchase the annual subscription for $69.99/year.

Best Fun App: Happify

Happify mental health app

Happify 

Pros
  • Great activity integration focusing on a variety of individualized goals

  • Different tracks that focus on specific areas of life

  • Developed by experts including therapists and coaches

  • Helps you better understand your moods and emotions

  • Encourages you to feel more present and live in the moment

Cons
  • Many options are only available if you purchase the premium option

  • The free version offers limited options

  • More expensive than many other mental health apps

  • The challenges and deadlines can be stress-inducing

If you’re looking for a fun app that will keep you engaged while also boosting your mood, Happify might be your best choice.

Happify is all about playing games. But every game is a science-based activity meant to reduce stress, build resilience, and overcome negative thoughts. 

The activities were developed by positive psychology experts who are familiar with evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy interventions.

While the ultimate goal is to make you happier, the app lets you decide which track you’d like to work on. Here are some of the track options: 

  • Coping better with stress
  • Fueling your career success
  • Achieving mindfulness through meditation
  • Conquering negative thoughts
  • Building self-confidence

The free version of Happify gets you access to some of the information. For full access, you’ll need to purchase a plan. Plans start at $14.99 a month.

The creators of the app report that 86 percent of people who use the Happify app report feeling better about their lives in two months. 

You can access the activities and games on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. The games only take a few minutes to complete and creators want users to know “small slices of time can make big-time changes.”

Best for Depression: Depression CBT Self-Help Guide

Depression CBT Self-Help Guide

 Depression CBT Self-Help Guide

Pros
  • Teaches simple activities that are easy-to-do

  • Promotes calm with activities and audio elements

  • Offers feedback on symptom severity

  • Contains lots of mental health information

  • Free access to all content and activities

Cons
  • Only available on Android devices

  • Lacks information about the components of CBT

  • Some users may struggle to identify negative thoughts and emotions

  • May lead people to self-diagnose

  • No access to professional help or guidance

The Depression CBT Self-Help Guide provides education on depression and the best strategies for managing the symptoms. It encourages you to engage in self-care behaviors that can improve your mood. 

When you download the app, you’ll be able to complete a questionnaire that helps you identify the severity of your depression.

It provides basic information about depression and how to live well with depression. It addresses many of the common symptoms of depression, including the physical symptoms—such as low energy and sleep disturbances—which can be important factors to address if you want to feel better.

The app is based on cognitive behavioral therapy which has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression. You’ll learn simple relaxation strategies for reducing stress and you’ll discover how to change your thinking so you can reframe the thoughts that fuel your depression. 

The app contains:

  • A screening test to monitor the severity of depressed mood
  • Articles about clinical depression and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Thought diary to learn how to challenge stressful thinking
  • Emotion training audio to learn to access calming emotions
  • Relaxation audio to learn deep relaxation
  • Fifty suggestions from CBT with a tracking feature 

The app is completely free of charge. Unlike other apps that require you to pay to get full access to all content, you’ll be granted complete access when you download it. 

The app is only available on Android devices, however.

Best for BIPOC: Shine

Shine App

Courtesy of Shine 

Pros
  • Access to a peer community for additional support

  • Empowering tools and activities for self-improvement

  • Topics focused on BIPOC mental health

  • Calming tools for crisis moments

  • Activities based on empirical research

Cons
  • Not designed for more serious mental health conditions

  • No access to professional support

  • Requires purchase to access many premium features

  • Challenge activities can sometimes be stress-inducing

Shine is a female-focused, self-care app that aims to help users "rest, heal and grow through difficulty." Its focus is self-improvement, and it delivers motivational messages through text and audio. And, Shine also offers an inclusive community so you can connect with other members at any time.

Topics addressed include stress, anxiety, burnout, acceptance, creativity, productivity, mindfulness, forgiveness, and work frustrations. The app provides meditations, a gratitude journal, and a daily mood tracker.

The app creators report their tools are science-backed so you know that the information they’re giving you really works to help you feel better.

Shine's audio files are short so you can listen to them while you’re brushing your teeth or drinking your morning coffee, and the files are also organized in a way that can help you reach for whatever kind of help you need in an instant.

For example, if you’re feeling anxious, you might reach for a meditation that can help you right now. Or, if you’re struggling to feel good, you might start a 7-day challenge that boosts your mood.

For about $54 per year, a premium subscription provides access to audio talks and challenges, as well as the ability to save favorite texts and listen offline. You can also pay by the month and you may cancel at any time.

With visually appealing content, short audio clips, and hundreds of meditations, you’re sure to find something that helps you feel better fast.

What Are Mental Health Apps?

Mental health apps are tools that can be accessed via your smartphone or mobile device that focus on improving different aspects of mental health and well-being. Such tools may focus on a range of areas related to wellness including relaxation, stress management, and sleep. They may also offer self-help tools, therapeutic activities, and access to treatment delivered by licensed mental health professionals.

What Are the Benefits of Mental Health Apps?

Mental health apps have a range of potential benefits that make them appealing to many people. Some key benefits include:

  • Accessibility: Because mental health apps are convenient and accessible, they can be a great resource for people who may struggle to access other options. 
  • Anonymity: Most mental health apps have measures that allow people to find information and access treatment in a way that is private and secure.
  • Convenience: You can access these tools anywhere and at any time, making them a great option for busy people who are always on the go.
  • Engagement: These apps can be an engaging and even fun way to learn about mental health and improve well-being. People are often able to set their own daily reminders, so regular notifications help them to stay engaged. 

Research also suggests that mental health apps have a great deal of potential, both as treatment tools and as supplements to traditional therapy.

How Can I Monitor My Anxiety?

One important feature that many mental health apps offer is the ability to monitor your anxiety. Such apps may offer informational resources to help you identify times when you are feeling anxious, and then have a quick way to record your mood and the events that preceded those feelings of anxiety. 

Monitoring and recording your feelings of anxiety can help you learn to recognize the triggers that often contribute to such feelings. Once you recognize these signs, you'll be better able to manage the situations that cause you anxiety and practice relaxation strategies that can help you regain equilibrium.

How Can I Track My Mood Changes?

Moods can fluctuate considerably, but mental health apps allow users to track daily changes in their moods quickly and efficiently. Perhaps most helpfully, such tools often incorporate journaling tools that also allow users to keep track of the events, situations, or thoughts that played a role in the onset of a specific mood.

Such tools can not only be helpful for seeing what factors affect your mood, but they can also help you look for patterns in your moods and emotions over time. You may notice that your mood tends to be lower or higher at certain times. By understanding these patterns, you can incorporate lifestyle changes or treatments into your life in order to boost your mood in both the short- and long-term.

One study looked at the type of mood-tracking features offered by many mental health apps. Many apps focus on the collection and reflection on moods but don't do enough to help people take the next steps to actually change their moods. One way to overcome this is to look for apps that are action-oriented or to incorporate other apps designed to promote preparation and action.

Seek Help Now

If you are having a personal crisis and need to talk to someone immediately, visit our national helpline database.

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Article Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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