10 best mental health apps
Top apps for managing anxiety, boosting your mood and checking in with your mental wellbeing.
Free – iOS
When you’re feeling anxious or stressed, taking a few moments to focus on your breath can help to calm down your mind and body. By slowing down your heart rate, you can reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety, like shortness of breath and a feeling of tightness in the chest. This interactive app by ReachOut uses simple visuals to guide you through some slow, deep breaths. It also lets you measure your heart rate, so you can check your baseline and how you’re going throughout the day.
Restful sleep is vital for your wellbeing – and anyone who has experienced insomnia knows how frustrating lack of sleep can be. This popular app provides guided meditations designed to help you relax, unwind and get the rest you need at night. Andrew is a Scottish clinical hypnotherapist with over 20 years’ experience helping people cope with stress, anxiety, fears and insomnia. Listen to his soothing voice as he takes you through a range of visualisations and relaxation techniques, and let it lull you into a deep, restorative sleep.
Not sure you if you need professional help right now, but want to keep track of your mental wellbeing? The Black Dog Institute has created an app to help you monitor your mood and wellness, so you can increase your awareness of your feelings, recognise patterns, and identify issues that you might want to work on.
Snapshot gives you an overview of your mental wellbeing over time, tracking your general happiness, mood and anxiety levels, as well as work stress, sleep, social support and alcohol intake. It also provides feedback based on Australian population norms for your age and gender. And if you do decide you need more help, the app connects you with a range of resources and professional support services.
$6.49 – iOS
MoodKit is packed with tools and activities to help you improve your mood, based on strategies used by psychologists. The exercises draw on the techniques of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), one of the most scientifically-supported methods of psychotherapy. CBT helps you change the way you feel by changing the way you think. As you learn to identify and change unhelpful thinking styles, you can improve your mood and take more control over the way you feel.
This app is often recommended psychologists to enhance professional treatment, but it is designed so that you can also use it on your own.
Telling yourself to stop worrying rarely works – it’s very difficult to just forget about something that’s causing you anxiety, stress or sadness. But if you tell your mind you have permission to worry later, for a set period of time, you can take some control over those upsetting thoughts, so they cause less disruption throughout the rest of the day.
ReachOut Worry Time helps you set aside a short window of time for your worrying. When a worrying thought pops up, record it on the app, then go back to your day knowing you can return to it later. This is also a helpful way to track what you’re worrying about, so you can notice patterns and try to address recurring themes. And chances are, by the time your worry session does come around, it won’t seem so worrying after all.
6. Smiling Mind
Mindfulness meditation can be a valuable tool for improving your mental wellbeing. Research has shown that regular mindfulness practice can help you feel calmer and more positive, as well as giving you more energy, clarity and focus. Smiling Mind guides you through simple meditation exercises to get you started on your mindfulness journey. Colourful and warm, the app uses engaging illustrations and short meditation sessions to train you to become more aware of your breath and your senses, so you can bring mindfulness into your everyday routine.
If you struggle with anxiety, perfectionism, worry, social anxiety, performance anxiety or panic, learning to think differently about your anxiety can help you cope more effectively. MindShift is designed for teenagers and young adults, providing strategies to help you relax, develop more helpful thinking styles, and take active steps to give you more control over your stress and worry. Instead of trying to avoid anxiety, the app teaches you how to face it, offering specific tools to help you deal with challenging situations.
8. Thought Diary Pro
$6.49 – iOS
One of the key teachings of cognitive behavioural therapy is that your feelings are created by your thoughts – and by identifying and challenging unhealthy thinking styles, you can change the way you feel. Thought Diary Pro is designed to help you record and challenge the thoughts that cause you negative feelings. This is a simple tool that helps you capture your thoughts, assess your unhelpful thinking styles (cognitive distortions), and replace those distressing thoughts with a more realistic and productive way of thinking.
The first step to boosting your mood is understanding your mood – and that means recognising your patterns, and what situations or events might trigger different feelings. iMoodJournal is an easy way to keep track of how you are feeling, with colourful charts for measuring your mood, and space to record your thoughts and feelings. Use hashtags to help understand the connections between your mood and experiences, and look at patterns over time to identify what makes you feel your best.
10. The Check-in
beyondblue created this app to help young people help each other. It’s not easy to start conversations with friends or family who you think might be struggling – or to know how to help once you do talk about it. The Check-in app guides you through how to approach the topic of mental health, questions you could ask, how to respond and what you could do to best offer support.
The app offers tips not just for helping others, but for checking in with your own mental health, including advice from young people who have been through these conversations with friends. For further support, it also connects you to a range of professional online and phone services.
If you need help, please call the beyondblue Support Service on 1300 22 4636 or email or chat online at beyondblue.org.au