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David Baxter

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Top 10 Free Mental Health Apps in 2021

PsychCentral.com
March 17, 2021

Mental health apps can be great tools to improve your mental well-being, and many are free to download.
Many of us rely on our apps to help us meet our daily goals and manage our lives. One area in which this tech can especially come in handy is in managing and tracking mental health and wellness.

That’s why Psych Central has highlighted some of our favorite mobile apps designed to improve your mental wellness.

The apps on this list are not only useful for your personal mental health mobile toolkit (and for referring to clients, if you’re a mental health professional), but they’re also all free to download — making them good options if your budget is tight.

Our picks for the best free mental health apps​


Best for anxiety: MindShift​

Developed by Anxiety Canada — an anxiety awareness nonprofit organization — MindShift uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to teach relaxation skills, help develop new ways of thinking, and suggest healthy activities.

The app was designed for younger users but can be useful to people of all ages.

What we like​

  • lots of useful tools, including a thought journal, chill zone with guided meditations, and a “quick relief” tool if you’re feeling overwhelmed in the moment
  • the ability to share mental health data with people in your support network

What to look out for​

  • lots of active mood tracking, which may not be for everyone
  • some of the app’s reviews say that it’s not the best choice for managing complex, interconnected mental health issues
Learn more about MindShift here.

Best for PTSD: PTSD Coach​

PTSD Coach is helpful for symptoms of combat-related post-traumatic stress. This trusted military app has been downloaded more than 500,000 times and features versions in different languages.

What we like​

  • direct links to resources for help and support
  • free companion app for family members

What to look out for​

  • focus on members of the military may mean this app isn’t as suitable for people with PTSD that isn’t combat related
Learn more about PTSD Coach here.

Best for deep breathing: BellyBio​

BellyBio is a biofeedback app that monitors your breathing when you rest your device on your belly. It plays music, sounds reminiscent of ocean waves, and more while you relax — and it’s great for anxiety and stress.

What we like​

  • multiple interactive music themes to choose from
  • one 2019 studyTrusted Source on BellyBio found that using apps like this showed promise for abdominal breathing training

What to look out for​

  • the 2019 studyTrusted Source found immediate results were difficult to obtain for inexperienced users
  • not available on Android
Download BellyBio for iPhone.

Best for quitting unwanted habits: Quit That!​

Being able to track your progress in real-time is helpful when quitting a habit like smoking or drinking alcohol.

Quit That! lets you see exactly how long it’s been since you last quit something. It also lets you plan on quitting certain habits in the future, and to take notes on each thing you quit.

What we like​

  • tracks how long since you’ve quit an unwanted habit, as well as how much money you’ve saved — for example by not buying cigarettes, alcohol, or whatever else
  • room to track progress on unlimited habits

What to look out for​

  • tracks your progress in quitting, but doesn’t include resources or motivation to help you quit
  • not available on Android
Download Quit That! for iPhone.

Best for stress relief: Take a Break!​

Developed by Meditation Oasis, Take a Break! is a free app that helps you quickly recharge. Listen to a 7-minute Work Break or 13-minute Stress Relief recording with or without music or nature sounds.

What we like​

  • features two popular meditations from the Mediation Oasis podcast
  • simple app design allows for easy use

What to look out for​

  • features ads and in-app purchases
  • limited number of meditations available for free
Download Take a Break! for iPhone or Android.

Best for CBT and ACT: What’s Up?​

What’s Up? uses CBT along with acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) to help redirect negative thoughts and feelings.

The app gives you tools to help put your problems in perspective if they feel overwhelming. It also lets you track your positive and negative habits, and more.

What we like​

  • connect with others who use the app through the What’s Up? forum
  • sync data between multiple devices and across Apple and Android operating systems

What to look out for​

  • in-app purchases
Download What’s Up? for iPhone or Android.

Best for people of color: Shine​

The mental wellness space is predominantly white. Because of this, many apps and other mental health resources don’t take into account the unique experiences facing people of color. That’s why the founders of Shine set out to create an app specifically geared toward people of color and women.

An app like this is important — for example, only 1 in 3 Black people in the United States receive the mental healthcare they need.

Free apps like Shine may make it easier and more convenient for people of color to improve their mental wellness.

What we like​

  • specific meditations for Black well-being and mental health
  • integration with Apple Watch and Siri for iPhone users

What to look out for​

  • full version of the app requires paid subscription
Download Shine for iPhone or Android.

Best for better sleep: Relax with Andrew Johnson Lite​

This app offers a lot of great mindfulness resources, but one of the best features of Relax with Andrew Johnson Lite is the Deep Sleep meditation.

This tool helps you build off the app’s other mindfulness features aimed at sleep in order to help you get the best night’s rest possible. Not ready for bed? Try the Power Nap meditation.

What we like​

  • more features beyond sleep help, including meditations for panic attacks and healthier eating

What to look out for​

  • this is the “lite” version of the app — you have to buy the full version to unlock more benefits
Download Relax with Andrew Johnson Lite for iPhone or Android.

Best overall symptom tracker: Bearable​

Bearable is a well-rounded health tracker that helps you put mental health symptoms into context with your general well-being.

You can also integrate Bearable into your formal mental health treatment plan, sharing data securely with your therapist.

What we like​

  • Apple users can integrate Bearable with Apple Health Kit for an even closer look at your health
  • set reminders to journal, take medication, and more

What to look out for​

  • Android users don’t have an equivalent way to track data the way Apple Health Kit does
  • in-app purchases
Download Bearable for iPhone or Android.

Best for bipolar disorder: eMoods​

When tracking symptoms of bipolar disorder, few other free apps offer what eMoods does. Track your symptoms and medications to give you and your healthcare team a better understanding of what is and isn’t working in your treatment plan.

This app also prides itself on its privacy — all data is stored locally, meaning nothing leaves your phone unless you want it to.

What we like​

  • optional PDF print-outs can be sent to your healthcare team to help adjust treatment as needed
  • colorblind-friendly screen settings

What to look out for​

  • in-app purchases
  • full version of the app requires a paid subscription
Download eMoods for iPhone or Android.


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Daniel

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Free app featuring Oprah and Deepak Chopra that includes guided meditations/lessons and a daily, guided journal.

Web version:

21-day meditation

Getting Unstuck: Creating a Limitless Life

Get unstuck from the rut of everyday routines with Oprah and Deepak, and invigorate every aspect of your being with newfound wonder, meaning, and inspiration! This is your last chance to be a part of a 21-Day Meditation experience with Oprah—join us as we close this very special chapter.

iPhone app:

Android app:


The daily journal is brief and includes solution-focused, e.g. "Write down one thing you can do today to improve the situation, even in a small way."
 
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