5 Highly-Rated Mental Health Apps For Teenagers

Gen Z is the most anxious, depressed generation. Although the internet and social media allow for intense connectivity with the world around them, such platforms are also forlorn by news of climate change, the polarization of politics, mass shootings, police brutality, sexual assault allegations, and more. It is no wonder, then, that these mere children and young adults experience a heightened sense of negative emotions. Paradoxically, our digitalized society responds to these issues with the creation of more technology—mental health apps. Could the solution to the mental health issues of Gen Z lie in the problem itself?

Therapy and medication are not viable options for all sufferers of negative emotions, especially those of lower socioeconomic positions. On the other hand, mental health apps have the potential to remove such barriers to treatment by offering valuable support and guidance. These apps are by no means replacements for formal treatment; ideally, they are used as supplementary tools to traditional therapy. However, for those struggling to reach out for help or those unable to access the support of a mental health practitioner, mental health apps can alleviate feelings of heightened stress, anxiety, and depression.

Here are 5 highly-rated mental health apps that could be of use to you:

1) MindShift

Created by Anxiety Canada, a registered charity and nonprofit organization, MindShift is a free app that helps teens and young adults manage their anxiety using scientifically proven strategies. The app utilizes cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques, a popular form of psychological treatment focusing on identifying, challenging, and changing one’s destructive thinking and behavioral patterns. With CBT techniques, people can understand the root of their emotions, abandoning the“band-aid approach” of merely suppressing or ignoring them.

In alignment with typical CBT strategies, the Learn feature of MindShift allows users to gain control over their emotions through education and an improved sense of understanding. Learn boasts general information on a range of topics, including the mechanisms of worry, social anxiety, perfectionism, panic, phobias, etc. After identifying and understanding their negative thinking patterns, users can partake in different activities designed to combat them. For instance, Check In, Thought Journals, and Goal Setting encourage self-reflection. The Belief Experiments, Facing Fears, and Expanding Your Comfort Zone features prompt proactive behavior that allows users to challenge and escape their negative thinking cycles. Additionally, Coping Cards and Chill Zone provide affirmations and guided meditations, respectively.

2) Happify

Like MindShift, Happify aims to help users alleviate stress, anxiety, and overall negative thinking. However, the latter offers a more personalized experience for its users. After answering a questionnaire, Happify suggests various “tracks” to address one’s unique needs. These comprehensive programs include Personal Growth, Family and Kids, Relationships, Work and Money, Mindfulness and Meditation, Health and Well-Being, etc. Happify also offers an Instant Play section that contains games and activities aiming to build positive emotions. Designed by medical professionals, categories of this feature—Savor, Thank, Aspire, Give, Empathize, and Revive—have proven to correspond with happiness and life satisfaction.

Happify also provides a community space for its users. People can interact with others on the app, whether through the exchange of stories, the sharing of successes, and other forms of inspiration and motivation. Happify also boasts its Happify Daily feature, another community-building aspect, that consists of positive news reports, motivational articles and videos, and opportunities to participate in free events like Facebook Live yoga sessions.

Happify is free, but the app also offers paid subscriptions. For $139.99 upfront or $14.99/month, users can experience Happify Plus, which includes access to 129 tracks, more games, and activities, and an individualized Values in Action (VIA) character strengths profile and report.

3) Sanvello

Inspired by their personal experiences with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and mindfulness practices, Dale Beermann and Chris Goettel founded Sanvello in 2014. Similar to MindShift’s two-pronged approach in combating one’s mental health issues, Sanvello’s Thoughts and Guided Journeys features allow users to first understand their negative thinking patterns and then take action against them. Thoughts lists common thinking traps people fall into and strategies to reframe these thoughts in a more positive light. Users can also journal their emotions, allowing them to identify triggers and track their progress. While Thoughts has a heavy emphasis on self-reflection, Guided Journeys encourages proactive behavior. Each program in Guided JourneysFeeling Better, Taking Control, Building Confidence, and Mindfulness—and its respective short tutorials and exercises are designed by psychologists to help users develop healthy coping mechanisms.

Sanvello fosters a sense of community, allowing people to talk to fellow users or professional coaches and therapists. Users can post their stories or partake in group chats in Sanvello’s various communities, including Health, Relationships, Anxiety, School Stress, Work Stress, and more. For those seeking conversations with professionals, the app offers sessions with various coaches and therapists. Although payment is necessary to access these services, coaching and therapy via Sanvello are significantly cheaper than outside sources. The app also accepts various insurers. Coaching sessions are priced at $50/session or $350 for a premium subscription and a year’s worth of sessions. Sessions with licensed counselors or therapists cost $105/session; this price may be offset if insurance is used.

4) Talkspace

Talkspace offers access to therapists who cover a broad range of mental health services for individuals, couples, and teenagers especially. Moreover, unique to the world of mental health apps, the app offers psychiatric care and prescription management, allowing users the opportunity to receive medication for their needs. After signing up in the app, users will answer questions about their goals for counseling and treatment. They will then be paired with a licensed therapist with whom they can communicate via text, video, or audio messaging.

Talkspace offers several therapy subscription options. With a range of amenities and prices, users can delineate the plan that best fits their situations. Unlimited Messaging Therapy Plus includes text, video, and audio messaging with a therapist that responds 5 days per week. Unlimited Messaging Therapy Premium offers the previous amenities and one 30 minute live session per month. Those with the Unlimited Messaging Therapy Ultimate plan can attend four 30 minute live sessions per month.

5) notOK

Ideal for anyone struggling with anxiety, depression, or suicidal tendencies, notOK is a free digital panic button. The app was created by teenager Hannah Lucus, and with her efforts, over 100,000 users have remained safe with the downloading of notOK. Users first upload the contact information of those they trust to the app. Pressing the panic button notifies these contacts that the user needs help, sending them the user’s location. As the user waits for their contact to arrive, the app provides a breathing animation that they can follow. They also have the option to access warm lines and crisis text lines in the app during this waiting period. Once the issue is resolved, users press the “I’m OK” button, alerting their trusted contacts of their recovery.