If you search for “stress,” “depression,” or “mental health” in the Android or IOS app stores, you will find a disorienting 10,000 to 20,000 mental health apps available for download. While this increased emphasis on cognitive well-being is encouraging, not all these tools are created equal. Despite the slew of apps available, many are not based on widely practiced techniques and models or validated by mental health experts.
As clinicians, it’s important to direct clients towards evidence-based mental health apps. Studies have shown that utilizing good apps can greatly enhance client experience and progress between sessions. With how many options are available, we recognize you likely don’t have the time to vet which are safe and effective, so we’ve done the leg work for you.
Why Mental Health Apps Matter
These days, we use apps for everything from shopping, connecting with loved ones, and planning out our lives. We have become accustomed to the ease of having the world quite literally at our fingertips. It only makes sense that mental health providers would capitalize on the prevalence and ease of use apps provide for supporting their client’s progress.
Therapists can guide clients towards using apps as a tool to improve a range of wellness areas, including relaxation, stress management, and sleep. Research has shown that they can effectively monitor and manage symptoms or disorders. While these apps can’t treat or diagnose conditions independently, they’re a convenient way to support clients between sessions.
However, while many mental health apps are available, many are not backed by research. Evidence-based mental health apps base information on techniques that have been researched and found effective, such as:
- Deep breathing
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Though they cannot replace therapist-guided treatment, mental health apps can effectively improve overall mental wellness and target specific needs. Chances are there are evidence-based mental health apps that will suit your client’s needs.
What We Looked For
- Evidence-based. We ensured these apps are based on scientific research.
- Key features. We considered the list of features targeted to support varying needs.
- Cost. We’ve included options that suit varying budgets.
- User Rating. User experience is essential, so we’ve only included apps with good reviews from actual users.
Top 7 Evidence-Based Mental Health Apps
Developed by two clinical psychologists, this app is based on the ideologies and methods of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). With over 200 activities, users receive specific steps to reduce negative feelings and enhance well-being—track moods, negative thoughts, and stress management with an in-app journal.
Therapists do not have direct access to their client’s usage or journaling. However, by using the app, clients will be better prepared for sessions and can refer to their journal or symptom tracker during sessions to help facilitate discussion and treatment plans.
- In-app journaling
- Large variety of activities
User Rating: 4.3/5
This app tracks moods, mental illness symptoms, medications, sleep, exercise, food intake, and social interaction. Clients can share charts tracking activities and their emotional impact with practitioners to track patterns and determine if a treatment plan works. Information can also be linked to the client’s Apple Health Kit if they are iPhone users.
This app does not allow therapists to track their client’s progress automatically. However, clients do have the option to send information to therapists or physicians directly from the app.
- Multi-function tracking
- In-app journaling
- Symptom tracker
- Medication reminders
- Can integrate with Apple Health Kit
- Tracks sleep, medications, exercise, and food
- Users can send information to therapists or physicians
Cost: Basic version is free; the premium subscription is $5/month or $28/year.
User Rating: 4.7/5
This simple app helps users practice mindfulness and meditation. With series addressing stress, sleep, anxiety, focus & productivity, relaxation, centered fitness & tension release, there’s something for every experience level and lifestyle. Users can choose between short 3-minute mini-meditations for a quick mental shift or longer meditations for profound impact.
Therapists are unable to follow along with their clients’ progress within the app itself, but this could also lead to discussions in therapy on barriers that might come up during meditation practice.
- Stand-alone meditations
- Meditation courses on mindfulness, coping with cravings, dealing with distractions, and better sleep
Cost: $12.99/month or $94.99/year
User Rating: 4.9/5
This app is designed to help patients who struggle to manage and track their multiple medications. The app offers a clean and straightforward interface for managing medication reminders, including the unique capability to alert a designated contact when clients miss dosages. It can also pair easily with a smartwatch, or users can add a “medifriend” (including prescription providers, therapists, and family members) who can help monitor the use of the prescriptions.
- Alerts when medications shouldn’t be taken together
- Offers integration with GoodRx, a discounted prescription drug provider
- Has plenty reminder options, including when it’s time for refills
- Allows users to easily communicate their past and current medications with their treatment team
User Rating: 4.7/5
While created to help veterans retain healthy sleep patterns through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I), it could benefit anyone who would like to improve their sleep regiment and habits. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs National Center for PTSD created this app in partnership with Stanford School of Medicine and the U.S. Department of Defense. CBT-i Coach is designed to support professional insomnia or sleep disorder treatment. The app helps users learn about sleep through a structured program while developing a positive sleep routine and alleviating insomnia symptoms.
- CBT-I education
- Tips for improving sleep environments and developing healthy sleep routines
- Diary to track sleep and wake times
- Relaxation tools for preparing for sleep or falling back to sleep
User Rating: 3.4/5
Breathe2Relax provides detailed instructions and practice exercises to help users learn diaphragmatic breathing. It can be used as a stand-alone stress reduction tool or in tandem with a clinician. The app also uses HealthKit and Apple Watch devices to measure heart rate throughout breathing exercises to help provide a complete picture of the relaxation experience. Breathe2Relax was developed by The National Center for Telehealth & Technology along with the Department of Defense with military and veterans struggling with PTSD in mind. They base their functions on extensive mindfulness, breathing, and stress management research.
- Easy to follow breathing exercises
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Release tension from the body and ease the mind
User Rating: 4.3/5
Designed by therapists for therapists, the Noble evidence-based mental health app provides crafted between-session support. Therapists assign a pre-created Roadmap based on the client’s unique situations and needs, guiding them through automated lessons, action items, and assignments, increasing the effectiveness of one-on-one sessions. Topics currently include healing from betrayal trauma, addiction recovery, and managing anxiety.
Noble is an app for therapists to use with clients directly. Not only can clinicians assign specific roadmaps based on their client’s needs, but they can also monitor progress, approve action items, and provide extra support through messaging all from within the app.
- In-app guided journaling
- Guided goal setting
- Specialized Roadmaps on a variety of mental health topics
- Guided mindfulness and meditation practices unique to each Roadmap
- Integrated CBT techniques unique to each Roadmap
- Self-help techniques to manage stress and symptoms
- Ability for therapists to track progress and view journal entries
- Therapist approval of completed activities
- Secure messaging platform between individuals or groups
- Scheduling management
- In-app video calls (coming soon!)
- Automated call reminders (coming soon!)
- Clinical assessments (coming soon!)
- Passive income for mental health professionals
Cost: Clients pay a monthly fee. You set the price and keep 100% of the money!
User Rating: 5/5
An App Created for Therapists by Therapists
As therapists, we have learned that the most remarkable client outcomes are made possible through between-session work. We’ve attempted to support our clients through content, assignments, and communication, but it hasn’t always worked well. While we genuinely wanted to help, we were so busy that managing the extra work between sessions felt difficult. Which, ultimately, didn’t provide our clients with the best experience. Recognizing the need for added support and the benefits of technology, we created an evidence-based mental health app – for therapists by therapists.
Noble aims to be part of the technological revolution, continuing the development of quality materials for better between-session care. We support mental health professionals and clients in staying on track while logging progress. By enabling patients and counselors to continue care outside of sessions, Noble is paving a smoother path to healing. If you have questions about integrating our platform into your practice, Contact Noble today.
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