Best Online Mental Health Classes

The Science of Well-Being is the best overall mental health class

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People are looking for ways to learn various coping skills and practices to decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression. But even without a clinical diagnosis, everyone has to deal with stress and develop good stress management skills in order to successfully deal with the responsibilities of life.

There are a lot of options to choose from in the search for self-improvement methods. Online mental health classes are often an overlooked but very effective resource. While many people start with self-help books and journals, an online class is a cost-effective way to dive deeper into a subject that interests you.

While an online class may require more time and commitment than a self-help book or journal, it allows you to immerse yourself in the subject and learn from many angles. A good online class will include lectures, articles, video presentations, opportunities for discussion, and personal writing prompts. In many cases, once you purchase the class, you can revisit it at any time as a refresher.

Best Online Mental Health Classes in 2021

Best Overall : The Science of Well-Being


Coursera

 Coursera

Why We Chose It: With over 3.5 million students and stellar reviews, this course is in high demand for good reason. Techniques developed from years of sound research make the course highly effective, and it's easy to maintain positive long-term results. 

Pros
  • Proven techniques

  • Expert instructor

  • Quality research behind techniques

  • Certificate can be shared to LinkedIn

Cons
  • Requires time commitment

  • Difficult for busy people

  • Scholarships not available for everyone

  • Must pay for course to obtain certificate

The Science of Well-Being class is led by Dr. Laurie Santos, a professor of psychology at Yale University who studies the science and patterns behind what makes people happy. She developed this course when she noticed that incoming freshmen at Yale and other Ivy League schools were struggling with depression and anxiety at alarming rates. Through her research on the subject, she started the course as a way to focus on improving mental health for incoming freshmen. Fortunately, the exact same class is now open to anyone who wants to learn the science of happiness and improve their overall sense of well-being. 

The material focuses on topics like the misconceptions of happiness, why expectations lead to disappointment, and how to rewire your brain to connect with the things that actually make you happy instead of what you think makes you happy. The use of videos, articles, discussions with other students, and assignments speaks to various learning styles. This is a very hands-on class, and it is estimated to take about 19 hours to complete over the 10-week period. 

While you can view the course materials for free, you must pay a one-time $49 fee to earn a certificate upon completion, and it can be directly shared to your LinkedIn profile. Coursera also offers a subscription option called Coursera Plus. You can take as many courses as you like, earn certificates of completion, and view the course material at any time.

Best for Mindfulness and Meditation : Mindfulness Meditation : Core Practices for Living Wisely


Udemy

Udemy

Why We Chose It: We chose this course because it addresses all aspects of mindfulness while clarifying a lot of the confusion and mistakes made while trying to live a more mindful life. 

Pros
  • Scientifically supported practices

  • Lifetime access to the class

  • Good course for busy people

  • Teaches different types of meditations

Cons
  • Some may want a more in-depth course

  • Very short curriculum

  • Some may miss writing prompts

  • Some may not like religious associations

Although this course is short, it is full of useful information and techniques on how to integrate mindfulness into your daily life, no matter how busy you may be. Led by Dr. Jack Kornfield, a clinical psychologist, author, and researcher on the psychology of Buddhist practices, this program is recorded in front of a live audience and allows for questions and answers to help improve your understanding and enable the effective practice of mindfulness. 

It is also helpful in its discussions on the types of mindfulness and meditations that might best suit your personality. For some people with a more energetic personality, walking meditation may be more helpful than a silent, sitting meditation. Breathwork, however, is the foundation and starting place of this course and can be used to decrease stress in a high-pressure work environment, to bring greater peace to our relationships and personal lives, and even bring healing to areas of recovery, such as eating disorders, substance addictions, and trauma recovery.

Advertised at a cost of about $30, once you have purchased this course, you have lifetime access to this class and can revisit it anytime to remind yourself of good practices. Additionally, this class offers a certificate of completion at the end that can be accessed on any mobile device or computer.

Best for Stress Management : Stress Management : 40+ Easy Ways to Deal with Stress


Udemy

Udemy

Why We Chose It: By focusing on the solutions for stress rather than the stress itself, this course offers a vast wealth of resources and skills. It's perfect for people who benefit from having options and a collection of coping skills in their tool kit. 

Pros
  • Very informative

  • Expert instructor

  • Lifetime access

  • Many techniques to choose from

Cons
  • More expensive than others

  • More reading than videos

  • Must be consistently practiced

  • Brain research can be boring for some

If you are someone who needs a buffet of practical applications to choose from at any given time, there is no better course than this. With this Udemy course, developed and led by Gregory Caremans, a neurocognitive and behavioral expert who is the former director of the Institute of Neurocognitivism in Belgium, you can learn why stress happens, what its purpose is, and how to manage it well.

The instructor uses a combination of lecture videos and articles to teach about how the brain works, the effects of stress on the brain, and what you can do to manage stress in healthy and resilient ways. The greatest takeaway from this course is the long, extensive list of coping skills you will have to choose from. The more options you have, the more effective and individualized your stress management routine can become.

With more than 40 stress-relieving strategies presented in this course, students are sure to find options that fit their personality types and lifestyles. It’s more expensive than many other courses at about $95. However, once you purchase the course, you receive lifetime access to its materials.

Best for Trauma Healing : Advanced Program to Heal Childhood Trauma and Conditioning


Udemy

Udemy

Why We Chose It: This course offers education and practical healing methods in an organized, easy-to-follow format for those trying to understand and heal from childhood trauma. 

Pros
  • Affordable, lifetime access

  • Expert techniques and instructor

  • Important topics covered

  • Organized, easy to follow layout

Cons
  • Some may need further processing

  • Not a replacement for therapy

  • A lot of information in 14 days

  • Gender-specific: for women

Childhood trauma can be a very confusing web of tangled emotions, defense mechanisms, and toxic conditioning to work through. No matter how much time has passed, these lessons and experiences shape who we are as adults.

Developed as a 14-day program, this is a great beginners’ course to learn about the effects of childhood abuse, and how to begin setting yourself free from the harmful effects.

The instructor of this Udemy course is a childhood trauma survivor and has devoted her life to researching and teaching healing methods for childhood trauma. The lessons are a combination of videos, downloads, and articles and cover topics like childhood programming, releasing anger, creating a new blueprint for your future, and resolving victimhood thought narratives.

It is recommended that students set aside 15 to 45 minutes each day for two weeks. Despite the organized layout and easy-to-follow guide, some may need more time with various topics discussed than others. If childhood trauma is severe, then this course is best used in conjunction with therapy to help provide further processing and individual guidance.

Offered for roughly $30, there is a lot of information presented and discussed. If 14 days is not enough time, students can work at their own pace, as the purchase allows for lifetime access. 

Best for Learning Coping Skills : CBT for Depression, Anxiety, Phobias, and Panic Attacks


Udemy

Udemy

Why We Chose It: This course offers a library of resources and techniques based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques, one of the most researched and successful theories used in modern psychology.

Pros
  • In-depth, informative course

  • Highly effective techniques

  • Lifetime access

  • Important topics addressed thoroughly

Cons
  • Large time commitment

  • Expensive

  • Not for beginners

  • Video animations could be better

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy focuses on the narrative that lives in our thoughts and whether or not our habitual thoughts are serving us well (spoiler alert: they usually don’t). 

CBT is used for some of the most common mental health struggles, such as anxiety, depression, phobias, and panic disorders. This course is helpful for those who struggle with these disorders and for therapists who want to sharpen their CBT skills and resource library.

Expect to learn about coping mechanisms to help with anxiety, depression, suicidal ideations, agoraphobia, and social anxiety, as well as seven types of thinking biases, and even how to keep a useful sleep diary. This course is detailed and will require more of a time commitment than others. On the downside, the videos are animations instead of live recordings, which seems a bit elementary.

The great benefit to this program is the number of resources it provides, with more than 12 articles and 44 downloadable resources. The roughly $160 price tag is steep, but it comes with lifetime access and many more resources than other courses offer. There is no time limit, so you can go at your own pace, and a certificate of completion is available.

Best Movement-Based Class : Qi Gong for Depression and Emotional Balance


Udemy

Udemy

Why We Chose It: This is a great mind-body connection course that focuses on breath and movement to decrease feelings of anxiety and depression and provides an option other than yoga. 

Pros
  • Effective

  • Easy-to-follow movements

  • Easily integrated into daily life

  • Good course for busy people

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Shorter length course

  • No downloads or writing prompts

  • Must be practiced regularly

Some people really benefit from integrating stress management techniques with body movement. This is what draws people to practice yoga, and there are many mindfulness yoga practices out there to choose from. We selected Qi Gong as a different option for those who either don’t like yoga, struggle with chronic pain, or feel intimidated by complicated yoga poses. Qi Gong uses simple movements to enhance the positive effects of breathwork to ease feelings of anxiety and depression. 

This is a video-only course, and the instructor moves the student through a series of mindful breathing techniques paired with simple but effective movements to enhance the positive effects of breathwork. The videos are set in the English countryside, which makes them enjoyable to watch and follow, and there are no downloads, writing prompts, or articles—just video instructions.

Offered at a price of about $70, the course is a bit more expensive than some, but it comes with lifetime access. This is also good for people who travel, as the videos are accessible through any TV or mobile device.

Final Verdict 

Online mental health courses are often an overlooked option in the self-help realm but can be beneficial in more ways than books alone. The classes require a greater time investment but can still be easily integrated into a busy routine.

The Science of Well-Being course has the highest customer review ratings and the most science-backed techniques presented. It also provides the most options for learning through video lectures, articles, and journal assignments. The course format, which involves approximately 19 hours of work spread out over 10 weeks, increases the likelihood of turning positive habits learned in the class into long-term practices. You can audit the course for free but will have to pay if you want to get the certificate of completion.

Compare the Best Online Mental Health Classes

Class  Cost  Length  Certificate
The Science of Well-Being Best Overall $49 per class 19 hours/10-week period Yes
Mindfulness Meditation: Core Practices for Living Wisely Best for Mindfulness $30 per class  N/A Yes
Stress Management: 40 Easy Ways to Deal with Stress Best for Stress $95 per class  N/A No
Advanced Program to Heal Childhood Trauma and Conditioning Best for Trauma Healing $30 per class 14 days (but flexible if lifetime access purchased)  No
CBT for Depression, Anxiety, Phobias, and Panic Attacks Best for Learning Coping Skills  $140 per class N/A  Yes
Qi Gong for Depression and Emotional Balance Best Movement $70 per class N/A No 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What Do You Learn in Mental Health Classes?

Mental health classes focus on improving skills and thought processes that lead to improved emotional regulation skills and an improved understanding of how certain habits contribute to or help alleviate anxiety and depression. Courses may offer research information on connections between the brain, body, and habitual thought narratives. While instruction lectures help to inform and educate, personal assignments are given to cater the lessons to each person and develop new habits and routines that lead to improved feelings of wellness. 

When Should I Consider Taking an Online Mental Health Class? 

Consider taking an online mental health course when you want a more interactive and individualized experience than a self-help book and if you absorb information more effectively through a class rather than reading alone. Use the classes solo as a self-help journey or along with therapy to enhance processing and healing. 

These courses not only help with improving mood management but may also add to your job skills and qualifications.

Are Online Mental Health Classes Effective? 

Online mental health classes can be effective if you put in the time and effort. The concepts require dedication and consistent practice in order to maintain positive effects. A lot of classes offer lifetime access or downloadable articles, allowing for students to easily refer back to the course material. 

Are Online Mental Health Classes Free? 

Very few courses are free, and some do not offer certificates of completion if the course is taken without paying. Coursera offers a monthly subscription that grants access to unlimited courses. Udemy tends to sell classes individually but offers lifetime access to purchased courses. Some scholarships and financial aid options are available depending on the class.

Methodology 

In order to determine the best online mental health classes available, we looked at multiple data points, including the sign-up process, instructors’ level of expertise, cost comparison, type of access given once a course is purchased, convenience, and how the classes can be accessed. We also looked at the usefulness of the course for both personal and professional advancement.

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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.
  1. David D, Cristea I, Hofmann SG. Why cognitive behavioral therapy is the current gold standard of psychotherapyFront Psychiatry. 2018;9:4. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00004

  2. Cleveland Clinic. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Updated January 13, 2020.

  3. Cleveland Clinic. What are the health benefits of qigong? Updated September 23, 2020.