These Mental Health Apps Offer On-the-Go Relief for Caregivers, Teens, and Kids

MoodFit has the best mental health app for availability, variety, and value.

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When choosing an online therapy provider, we recommend that you read the company’s privacy guidelines before you sign up to better understand whether it is HIPAA-compliant and whether it shares any private information with third parties. There have been some concerns raised by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and several government officials about what user health information online therapy providers collect and what they do with any information they collect.

Mental health is a vital aspect of overall well-being, and it's helpful to have accessible options available for improving and managing it. “Mental health apps can be beneficial for people who need extra support between therapy sessions or who would like to work on coping or mindfulness techniques on their own,” says Hannah Owens, LMSW. 

The best mental health apps are easy to use and rely on expert-approved and science-backed techniques such as mindfulness meditation, self-tracking, journaling, and cognitive behavioral therapy. “Look for apps that you feel are accessible and that don't ask too much of you (which might feel like unwanted homework) or too little of you (which might feel unnecessary and frustrating),” suggests Owens. To help search for the right mental health app for you, we’ve done the research by evaluating dozens of apps and online therapy companies that offer apps. Here are the ones we like best. 

Best Mental Health Apps of 2023

Best Overall: MoodFit

Moodfit logo


Key Specs

  • Cost: Free for basic; Premium is $9/month; $20/6 months; $30/year; $100 lifetime access
  • Platforms: iOS/Android 
  • Free Trial: Free version available with limited features

Why We Chose It

MoodFit provides self-tracking features and journals along with mindfulness, breathwork, CBT thought records, and resources for further learning. The app also provides personalized reports and insights to track your progress, making it stand out above the rest.

Pros & Cons

  • Tailored app experience based on your personal goals

  • Analytics provide insight into your progress

  • Multiple affordable plans for premium version

  • No desktop version for easier journaling

  • Some users report bugs

  • No access to a therapist

MoodFit is our top choice for mental health apps due to its range of features and unique analytics that allow you to see and understand your progress. The app uses several effective features, such as self-reporting, journaling, and goal setting to help people create and carry out a plan to improve their mental health. Users report excellent customer service and that the company is open to hearing feature requests and any bugs or complaints about the app.

The mood tracker allows you to directly attribute moods to certain activities to better understand how specific actions and events affect your mental well-being. Over time you can see patterns emerge that will help you know how to handle or whether to avoid certain activities. Journaling allows you to share how you feel and connect it to your mood rating for each day. This feature is helpful for understanding possible anxiety triggers and provides guidance to change negative thought patterns.

One prominent feature is goal setting, which you can do for a number of built-in or customizable goals. The app helps you create and build habits to support these goals in categories such as exercise, nutrition, sleep, mindfulness, and gratitude practices. Useful tools include grounding and breathing techniques to help calm anxiousness, guided meditations, and cognitive behavioral therapy work.

Plans & Pricing

The free version of the app provides mood and gratitude journaling along with some of the mindfulness and breathwork activities available with the premium membership. 

Premium also provides cognitive behavioral therapy thought records, mood insights, personalized reports, articles for further in-depth learning, passcode protection, and unlimited goals. Premium costs $9/month in-app, $20 for six months, $30 for a year, or $100 for lifetime access when you purchase through the website. (Prices may be higher on the app.) All plans are billed once only and are not automatically recurring.

Best for Therapy: BetterHelp

BetterHelp logo


Key Specs

  • Cost: $60 to $90 weekly
  • Platforms: iOS/Android
  • Free Trial: No

Why We Chose It

BetterHelp is a convenient and more affordable option for therapy, with access to licensed and vetted therapists you can talk to from wherever you are by text, video, phone, or chat.  

Pros & Cons

  • Access to licensed and accredited therapists from anywhere

  • Text, chat, phone, and video communication options

  • Unlimited messaging

  • More expensive mental health app option due to therapist access 

  • Does not accept insurance 

  • Therapists are chosen for you (although you can switch)

BetterHelp is one of the largest online therapy options, having been in operation since 2013. It has a large pool of licensed, vetted, experienced therapists available internationally. Multiple communication options make BetterHelp accessible and easy to use. Since BetterHelp provides convenient, professional, affordable therapy, it is our top pick for this category.

Therapists with BetterHelp have a range of backgrounds and expertise, but they all have over three years and 1,000 hours of experience along with relevant graduate-level degrees. You can get help with common mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, stress, relationship concerns, grief, and trauma. 

Although you do not choose your therapist, you will be matched to one based on your specific needs and goals, streamlining the process and ensuring your therapist is qualified and experienced in your areas of need. Monthly subscriptions include one talk therapy session each week from your choice of live video, chat, or phone call. However, you can message your therapist privately at any time.

Plans & Pricing

BetterHelp costs $60 to $90 per week, billed every four weeks at $240 to $360. The exact pricing for you will depend on where you are located and which provider you have. BetterHelp does not accept insurance, but financial aid is available based on a sliding scale.

Best for the Whole Family: Headspace

Courtesy of Headspace.

Key Specs

  • Cost: $12.99/month; $69.99/year
  • Platforms: iOS/Android
  • Free Trial: Yes

Why We Chose It

Headspace is a mindfulness and meditation app that has programs for the whole family. With a membership, you can access the Headspace for Kids features so kids can join in on learning breathing exercises, meditations, mindfulness, and visualizations. 

Pros & Cons

  • Large library of resources and guided meditations

  • Customizable meditation practice based on goals

  • Membership includes separate kid-focused programming

  • Free app version may have limited features 

  • Some users report difficulty canceling 

Headspace is one of the largest meditation and mindfulness-based online resources that is known for being beginner friendly and easy to follow. The app provides a large library of guided meditations of varying lengths. Kid-friendly content includes guided meditations for sleep, focus-based meditations, visualizations, breathing techniques, and instruction on mindfulness basics. 

For those new to meditation, Headspace has a range of educational content on how to get started, including mini-courses and tips for setting up a daily practice. If you experience anxiety, you can tap into the “SOS” feature, which is designed to alleviate current feelings of anxiousness and calm you. Sessions can be chosen for various mental health concerns, such as grief, stress, anger, and more.

Aside from meditation, you can also access movement and cardio-based activities designed to help you connect with your body during the day. At night, you can try the “Sleepcasts,” which pair soothing sounds with narration, in some cases from your favorite celebrities.

Plans & Pricing

A seven-day trial for monthly subscriptions and a 14-day trial for annual subscriptions are available, after which you will be billed at $12.99 per month or $69.99 per year. A family membership, which allows up to six accounts, costs $99.99, and students in some countries can access a $9.99 monthly subscription.

Best for Stress Relief: Sanvello



Key Specs

  • Cost: Free download; Premium is $8.99/month or $53.99/year
  • Platforms: iOS/Android
  • Free Trial: No

Why We Chose It

Sanvello uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) based practices, which are considered the first line in helping to treat anxiety and stress-related concerns. Access to stress-reducing tools like guided meditations, guided “journeys,” coping strategies, and self-trackers for mood and health help address in-the-moment stressful events and long-term stress management.

Pros & Cons

  • Self-tracking for mood, health, and progress reporting

  • Tools for immediate stress reduction such as guided meditations

  • Optional access to therapy, peer support, and coaching

  • Limited insurance coverage for therapy 

  • Guided meditations are basic and best for beginners

  • Coaching responses are slow

Sanvello provides a combination of CBT-based tools, mindfulness practices, and self-tracking along with options for peer support, coaching, and therapy sessions all in one app. The variety offered allows users to choose their level of support based on their needs at the time, with options to further their learning or get more personalized help.

For those feeling stressed, Sanvello has tools for long-term stress management and in-the-moment stress reduction. Self-tracking your mood can help you pinpoint stress triggers and patterns so you can avoid or better prepare for stressful situations. You can track your habits, such as exercise, health, emotions, and sleep, to see how they are connected to your mood and stress levels. Guided meditations, journeys, and peer support options may help you become calmer during stressful events. 

Users report success using the guided journeys and educational content that helps build CBT skills to manage stress and anxiety. Many people enjoy the peer support available through the app, which can help them feel less alone and more supported as they share experiences with others.

Plans & Pricing

Downloading Sanvello is free, but most features require a premium subscription, which costs $8.99 per month or $53.99 per year. 

Therapy sessions are an additional expense that varies depending on your insurance coverage and region. According to the website, initial sessions cost an average of $140 and $85 for follow-up sessions. 

Best for Anxiety: MindShift

MindShift CBT logo

MindShift CBT

Key Specs

  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms: iOS/Android
  • Free Trial: 

Why We Chose It

Developed specifically for helping with anxiety, MindShift uses CBT to improve mindfulness, relaxation, and techniques for managing anxiety. A community forum also provides peer support for those who feel better knowing others share similar experiences.

Pros & Cons

  • Free to use, professionally developed by Anxiety Canada

  • Uses interactive cognitive-based tools to foster behavioral change

  • Supports various types of anxiety: social, worry, panic, perfectionism, and phobias

  • Limited daily entries 

  • Does not track long term progress

  • Some users report app crashes

MindShift was developed by Anxiety Canada as a completely free resource for people experiencing anxiety. It is a highly interactive platform with tools for self-tracking, calming, and building CBT-based skills and behavior changes. It covers anxiety categories, such as worry, panic, perfectionism, social anxiety, and phobias.

Some helpful resources include coping cards, which you can customize with your own affirmations, meditations, a mood tracker, an anxiety scale, a journal log, goal setting, educational articles, and calming exercises. All tools and educational resources are based on first-line, proven CBT methods. The goal of MindShift is to help you manage and get on top of your anxiety with long-lasting coping strategies and behavior change

A community forum is also available for peer support, allowing you to share your experiences and ask for and give advice. The forums are moderated for safety and are restricted to those 18 and over.

Plans & Pricing

MindShift is free to use. You will need to create a free account to log in and track your progress.

Best for Meditation: Calm

Calm Meditation App logo


Key Specs

  • Cost: $14.99/month, $69.99/year, or $399.99 for lifetime access, plus additional options
  • Platforms: iOS/Android
  • Free Trial: Yes

Why We Chose It

Mediation can be intimidating to begin and make a habit of, but Calm provides an accessible and enjoyable way to learn and stick to meditation practice. If you’d prefer to relax and let your mind drift, there is also a large library of soundscapes and stories for relaxation and sleep.

Pros & Cons

  • Easy to use, simple, inviting platform 

  • Includes breathwork, meditations, relaxing soundscapes, sleep programs, and mindfulness techniques

  • Family and student plans available

  • Free version is limited 

  • Users report inconsistent volume which can be jarring

  • Unable to create playlists for continuous use

Meditating with Calm is enjoyable and easy due to the app’s accessible platform and an enormous library of guided meditations, breathing techniques, soundscapes, and soothing stories. Navigating the app is straightforward with everything categorized and organized so you can choose a session quickly. Upon signing up, you can pick a category to work on or improve such as focus, stress and anxiety reduction, sleep quality, self-improvement, and more.

Calm's large library of varying types of meditation and mindfulness exercises is unique. There is even a large selection of moving meditations that incorporate gentle movement with breathwork to bring awareness to your physical and mental self. What’s more, new content is added weekly for a consistently fresh practice.

Themed meditation practices such as body scans, gratitude practice, increasing joy, studying, or energizing make Calm versatile and practical for a range of uses. Calm Kids is a fun and engaging section of the app with familiar characters from Disney and popular stories to help kids learn to meditate, focus, or drift off to sleep. 

Plans & Pricing

Free download; Premium version costs $14.99/month, $69.99/year, or $399.99 for lifetime access. Calm Premium Family Plan allows six users for $99.99/year. Calm Student plan costs $8.99/year after a three-month free trial when using Amazon Prime.

Best for Kids: Chill Panda

Chill Panda logo

Chill Panda

Key Specs

  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms: iOS/Android; Nintendo Switch
  • Free Trial: N/A

Why We Chose It

Chill Panda draws on scientific studies and clinical psychologist expertise to help kids identify and manage their stress and anxiety. Geared toward children 8 and under, Chill Panda uses yoga, breathwork, games, and exercise to teach skills and calm kids dealing with stress.

Pros & Cons

  • Designed with clinical psychologists

  • Suggests tasks for specific needs

  • Teaches kids to understand and self-manage anxiety and stress

  • App requires child to stay still for heartbeat reading 

  • Controls may be tricky to use

Options for mental health apps for young kids are limited, especially when it comes to engaging and simple platforms that help kids learn to self-manage stress and anxiety. Chill Panda accomplishes this with cutesy characters, engaging teachable games, and practices like square breathing and yoga designed to help calm and distract stressed kids.

Calm Panda was developed by clinical psychologists and programmers, and it was approved by the U.K.’s National Health Service for NHS’s now-defunct Apps Library. The mobile app version asks kids to press their finger against the device’s camera to measure their heartbeat and asks them to rate their mood. It then suggests activities based on these responses. As kids complete activities, they can watch their mood increase along with the panda’s. 

Kids can play Chill Panda on iOS or Android devices, including Chromebooks and iPads, and it’s now available on the Nintendo Switch, which users enjoy due to improved controls. The game initially had several glitches and clunky controls but has since been improved, according to user reviews.

Plans & Pricing

Chill Panda is free to use.

Best for Teens: Smiling Mind

Smiling Mind

Smiling Mind

Key Specs

  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms: iOS/Android
  • Free Trial: N/A

Why We Chose It

Smiling Mind stands out for teens due to its accessible programs and educational support with age-specific lesson plans available for educators. The exercises are easy to follow and suitable for young people and beginners learning mindfulness and meditation techniques.

Pros & Cons

  • Large library of research-backed mindfulness and meditation exercises

  • Variety of demographics and desires to choose for tailored experience

  • Developed by psychologists and educators for youth mental health

  • Email address required to create account 

  • Australia accents guide meditations which can be distracting for some

Developed in Australia with the goal of improving youth mental health, Smiling Mind is a mindfulness and meditation app that is part of a program designed to be used in schools, homes, and workplaces. It is rated for ages 3 to 19+, making it suitable for kids, teens, and adults. Exercises are available for several areas that mindfulness can help improve, such as stress, sleep, relationships, focus, awareness, and response.

You can choose from a wide range of topics or areas of focus for daily meditations and mindfulness exercises in the app. It is recommended to use it for 10 minutes daily to increase focus and improve anxiety, stress, and worry symptoms. The well-being check-in feature prompts you to check in with yourself before starting meditation. 

Sessions increase in length as users build their practice, and a history of progress and emotions is recorded for reflection. Another unique feature is the ability to use Google Home with Smiling Minds to request and access activities without your device.

Plans & Pricing

Smiling Mind is free to use.

Best for CBT: MoodKit

MoodKit App logo


Key Specs

  • Cost: $4.99
  • Platforms: iOS
  • Free Trial: No

Why We Chose It

CBT is considered the first-line treatment for a range of mood and mental wellness concerns, so it’s essential to choose expertly developed programming for this category. MoodKit was designed by clinical psychologists and includes over 200 unique CBT-based activities to build lasting skills in self-awareness, overcome negative thoughts, and ease anxiety.

Pros & Cons

  • Self-tracking and journaling features

  • Works with iOS calendar for reminders

  • 200+ CBT-based mood-enhancing activities

  • Not available on Android

  • Text-based and not visually engaging

  • Requires a high level of self-motivation to practice consistently

CBT is considered the gold standard for psychotherapy and is highly recommended for individuals who want to develop skills to improve their mental well-being through behavior change. MoodKit is an app-based method for delivering CBT efficiently and conveniently through the expertise of clinical psychologist-designed activities. The app has four sections: Activities, Thoughts, Mood, and Journal. Over 200 CBT activities are available.

Within the activities category, you can choose goals from five options: Productivity, Social, Enjoyment, Physical and Healthy Habits. Within each category, you can browse and create a list of activities to complete or choose any single activity to do at a time.

After you choose your activities, you will be asked to commit to completing them within a certain timeframe, while your progress and commitment to sticking to that timeframe are monitored. This monitoring system helps you stay on track and consistent with your CBT practice, which helps MoodKit stand apart from other CBT apps.

MoodKit also syncs with iOS calendar to help you stay on track with your commitment. A built-in progress tracker and journal keep records of your progress and how your mood may change over time to help you understand patterns and see how you might be improving over time. An export feature allows you to download your data to share with a therapist or keep for your records.

Plans & Pricing

MoodKit is available only for lifetime purchase costing $4.99. 

Best for Boosting Mood: Happify

Happify App logo


Key Specs

  • Cost: Free version available; Happify Plus costs $14.99/month, $139.99/year, or $449.99 for lifetime access
  • Platforms: iOS/Android
  • Free Trial: No

Why We Chose It

Happify uses experiential learning through engaging activities and games, backed by evidence-based practices and designed by therapists. AI is integrated to enhance the experience by targeting areas of need and providing specific games and activities to improve them.

Pros & Cons

  • Fun, experiential learning 

  • Uses positive psychology and CBT

  • Tailored goals are achievable 

  • Free version is limited, and subscriptions are pricey 

  • App can be buggy and slow

  • May not suit those who want a more serious approach to learning

Happify is a mood-boosting app that uses positive psychology and CBT to improve your mental well-being in the short and long term. Fun, engaging games and activities are suggested to you based on your current areas of need and your goals. Happify helps with mood, productivity, and satisfaction using growth “tracks” you can choose based on your needs.

The app uses experiential learning, meaning instead of only text, audio, or passive video learning, you are engaged in active learning experiences with the games and activities provided. However, for those who enjoy understanding the reasons behind what they are learning, there are notes on the rationales and evidence behind the activities you do and how they help.

Happify is an excellent choice for people who are on the go a lot or don’t want a quick way to boost their mood or switch their thought patterns. The games and activities are short and easy to access, making them perfect to use while waiting in line or during a lunch break. 

Plans & Pricing

A free version of Happify is available, which provides a good idea of the types of games and activities you can do. However, the options with the free version are limited. A Happify Plus subscription costs $14.99 per month, $139.99 per year, or $449.99 for a lifetime subscription. Payments recur automatically.

Final Verdict

We recommend that mental help apps be used in addition to talk therapy. If you are looking for an app that offers talk therapy, Betterhelp is a great option. For on-the-go mental health support, MoodFit is our top pick due to its range of features, affordable plan options, and unique data analytics that can help you get a broader picture of your mental health and progress. It’s a highly customizable app that you can tailor to fit your individual goals and needs, including access to peer support through forums.

If you are looking for a mental health app geared more toward teens, Smiling Mind is an excellent option that is used in both school and home settings. For those looking for on-the-go talk therapy, BetterHelp is an excellent choice. For meditation and mindfulness for the whole family, Calm and Headspace are great choices for those hoping to learn more about these practices and maintain consistency.

Compare the Best Mental Health Apps

Company Price  Platforms Available  Free trial? 
MoodFit Best Overall $9/month $20/6 months $30/year $100 lifetime iOS Android  Yes
Better Help Best for Therapy  $60 to $90/week iOS Android  No
Headspace Best for Whole Family  $12.99/month $69.99/year iOS Android  Yes 
Sanvello Best for Stress Relief  $8.99/month $53.99/year iOS Android  Yes 
Mindshift Best for Anxiety  Free iOS Android  Free
Calm Best for Meditation  $14.99/month $69.99/year $399/lifetime iOS Android  Yes 
Chill Panda Best for Kids  Free iOS Android Nintendo Switch  N/A
Smiling Mind Best for Teens  Free  iOS Android  N/A 
MoodKit Best for CBT  $4.99  iOS No
Happify Best for Overcoming Negative Thoughts  Free version $14.99/month $139.99/year $449.99/lifetime  iOS Android  No 

Guide to Choosing the Best Mental Health Apps

What Are Mental Health Apps?

Mental health apps can be downloaded to your phone to help you develop self-care skills and strategies to improve your mental well-being. Some focus on educational content around behavior and psychology, while others teach skills like meditation, mindfulness, and coping strategies. 

“Depending on the app, they can provide structured guidance for people practicing certain therapeutic modalities, such as CBT, or exercises for things like meditation that can be practiced alone,” explains Owens.

These apps are also a cost-effective and easy way for people to get help and allow self-management of symptoms when used alongside therapy or with a therapist's recommendation. 

Do Mental Health Apps Work?

Research shows that mental health apps are an effective tool for helping relieve common concerns such as anxiety and depression while also allowing easy accessibility. For example, a meta-analysis covering 22 mobile mental health apps showed using apps to alleviate symptoms and self-manage depression significantly reduced symptoms of depression. These apps were found to work best for those with mild to moderate depression. 

How to Compare the Best Mental Health Apps

When choosing which type of app is best for you, it’s important first to assess your needs. Consider whether you need targeted help with depression or anxiety, or whether you want to focus on mindfulness or build a meditation practice for overall well-being. Not all apps do the same thing. For example, some may offer more self-care resources, like CBT- based techniques and activities, meditation practices for relaxation, or journaling and mood tracking. Others, meanwhile, might offer you access to peer support groups or therapy with a licensed mental health practitioner. If you’re a parent, you might also want an app for your children

Remember too that everyone learns differently, so choosing a mental health app that appeals to your learning style and preferences is wise. Consider how information is taught, whether through games, text, video, audio, etc. Look for apps that use proven techniques such as mindfulness, CBT, and self-tracking.

Next, consider pricing. Some mental health apps are available for free or at a low cost, but they still provide excellent resources for those looking for a budget-friendly option. Some of these free apps are provided by some very reputable nonprofit organizations or government agencies. Others, meanwhile, have a monthly fee but they might offer you a free trial so you can test the app out before committing. A few might also offer you access to a licensed mental health practitioner, so they may accept health insurance. Others sometimes have deals with different large employers to offer discounts.

Also, consider ease of use. The best apps will be user-friendly, accessible, and easy to navigate. Look for well-designed categories and pointers that help you get accustomed to using the app. Features should be obvious and an FAQ section should be available if you need help.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Can Mental Health Apps Help My Child?

    Mental health apps designed for children and teens may help them access help easier and more efficiently than they otherwise could. While apps cannot replace therapy or other professional mental health help, apps may improve focus, reduce stress, and calm anxiety.

  • Are Mental Health Apps Good For The Whole Family?

    Some mental health apps are suitable for the whole family to use, such as those that help you fall asleep or increase mindfulness through meditations, soundscapes, and stories. Some family-friendly apps also include meditative movement exercises, games, and fun learning activities for kids.

  • Are There Free Mental Health Apps?

    There are free mental health apps available, including Smiling Mind and MindShift. These apps are still developed by experts and contain science-backed methods to improve mental health. MindShift was created by Anxiety Canada as a free resource for those in need. Some other free mental health apps available contain ads or data collection, so be wary of why apps may be free if you are concerned about these factors.

  • Can Mental Health Apps Help With ADHD?

    Some mental health apps may be able to improve focus and promote calmness for those with ADHD. CBT-based apps have been found to help people with ADHD learn new behavioral skills to improve their symptoms. Results will be highly variable based on each person’s needs; consult with a doctor before relying on any mobile apps to help with ADHD or any other diagnosis.


To create this list of mental health apps, we looked at 23 different apps to choose the best for each category. We also assessed 55 different online therapy companies and identified those that offered apps. Then we evaluated all the apps to choose the best for different needs. We evaluated ease of use, the techniques and methods provided in the apps, user reviews for bugginess and user-friendliness, as well as users’ general impressions of usefulness. We also considered how each app was developed, by whom, and whether there was input from mental health experts.

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