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10 Mental Health Apps for When You Can’t Afford Therapy

10 Apps for Better Mental Health

Good mental health apps when you can't afford therapyNot everyone can afford face-to-face therapy, whether it be due to a lack of insurance or costly rates. This is unfortunate for those who truly need therapeutic services for whatever reason. Mental health issues are on the rise in the United States and the need for alternative assistance is high. The good news is that there are other ways individuals in need can access mental health supports. 

The COVID pandemic proved to be beneficial for the world of technology. Many companies focused on how to reach their customers differently. During this time, most people could not travel and visit offices in person to get the treatment they required. Not all, but many mental health apps were created or revamped to meet the needs of individuals stuck at home for safety reasons. 

The rise of mental health apps is just what is needed at this moment. 

A variety of people may be interested in using an app to monitor their mental health and to use it as a coping skill. Those who have busy schedules, those who cannot afford therapy, and those who might be nervous about traditional therapy can benefit from using a mental health app. Most of the mental health apps on the market have been developed with input from psychology professionals, research institutions, and mental health organizations, making them the best mental health apps for anyone who can’t afford therapy, or for those who going face-to-face is not convenient.

The following 10 apps are research-based and proven to be effective! 

1. Calm

Calm app is a great app for better mental healthCalm is a free app for Android and Apple devices with the purpose of reducing anxiety and improving sleep through meditation. It offers guided meditation sessions in various lengths of time to help users focus, relax and ultimately live healthier lives. Aside from the various meditation modules, Calm also offers sleep stories read in calming voices, sometimes by celebrities, to help users fall asleep. There is a music button for users to simply enjoy relaxing music as if they are at a spa. And there are various nature scenes with sounds to choose from.

Use it on your phone, on a desktop, with a class or group of people, or at work.

The app will track daily streaks and time spent meditating. It is especially useful for people new to meditation, although it has advanced options too, making it among the best mental health apps for when you can’t afford therapy.

If you need something to help keep you focused and centered and a tool to use as a coping skill throughout your day, download the free version of Calm or subscribe today. 

2. MindShift

MindShip is a great app for better mental health.MindShift is specially designed for young people with anxiety. True to its name, the goal of this app is to get users to shift their mindsets about anxiety and the things that make them anxious. It covers various types of anxiety such as social anxiety, phobias, panic attacks, and generalized anxiety disorder. It offers lists of coping strategies for dealing with these various forms of anxiety disorders. This free app follows strategies and verbiage of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). 

Some of the great MindShift features include:

  • CBT-Based Tools
  • Quick Relief
  • Thought Journal
  • Coping Cards
  • Belief Experiments
  • Facing Fears
  • Expanding Your Comfort Zone
  • Chill Zone
  • Check-In
  • Healthy Habits
  • Goal Setting

Looking for in-depth and facilitated CBT support with registered counselors? MindShift CBT Groups is an 8-session online group therapy program for small groups of adults (maximum of 10), which provides individuals with support, encouragement, and tools to help them cope better (MindShift).

3. What’s Up

What's App is a great app for better mental health.What’s Up is a general mental health app that lets users keep track of their feelings in a diary. This helps the promoting of positive habits and the breaking of negative ones. Mental health issues can help with include anger, stress, depression, and anxiety. It utilizes well-known and effective therapy methods such as Acceptance Commitment Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and provides forums for users to connect. It asks questions to determine exactly how users are feeling and offers guides to help them see the big picture.

A review from the App Store:

Love love love it. I’ve suffered from depression and anxiety for years. Many mental health apps have come and gone but I’ve kept this one consistently (longer than almost any other) since it offers such quick, clear help. I use it mostly for anxiety for quick help, for my depression for more general help. When you’re really freaking out (or just a bit!) this is the easiest one I’ve found to get quick help where I don’t have to think too much about how to use the app itself in order to let it help me. Open the app, top choice is “Help Right Now” – so simple!

4. Talkspace

Talk Space is a great app for better mental health.Talkspace allows users to connect with certified therapists for help dealing with several mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, stress, and even illness. Talkspace is not free but it is very reasonably priced compared to seeing a therapist in person. It offers a paid subscription where users can get in contact with a therapist as often as multiple times each day. It supports sessions via text, voice, or video chat so users can choose the option that makes them most comfortable.

Benefits of choosing Talkspace include:

  • 24/7 access — reach out whenever you need
  • Eliminate commute time and scheduling hassles
  • Flexible plans to meet your needs and lifestyle
  • Seamlessly switch therapists, at no extra cost
  • Save money while receiving high-quality care

So if you can’t quite afford traditional therapy, Talkspace might be an alternative to check out.

5. Quit That!

Quit That App is a great app for better mental health.Quit That! is a habit tracking app designed to help users stop addictions. It can be something as serious as alcohol or drug abuse to something more minor such as trying to cut back on caffeine. Users can track as many habits they are trying to break as they want and know exactly how long it has been since they’ve partaken in the problem behavior. Another cool feature is that it tells users how much money they have saved by quitting these bad habits.

A review from the App Store:

I love the streamlined and simple look of this app! My favorite part is that it shows you a running time counter, so when I open the app, it’s got the seconds counting up which gives me instant gratification. With other apps for quitting habits (I’m quitting alcohol), I’ve always felt a little twinge of anxiousness as I wait for the day counter to change over – not so with this app, it’s like a running reminder of my success. I also like the name – It makes me feel like it’s giving me a stern but friendly reminder, “quit that!”

6. Headspace

Head Space app is a great app for better mental health.The Headspace app is quite similar to the Calm app. It is mostly geared toward those who want to practice mindfulness and meditation as well as get more sleep. Headspace offers guided meditation and meditation activities for work, kids, sleep, focus, stress, and anxiety. 

Headspace has one mission: to improve the health and happiness of the world. And with millions of users in more than 190 countries, we’re well on our way.

Headspace is free to try–so download it! 

7. Sober Grid

Sober Grid is a great app for better mental health.Sober Grid is a free app that helps recovering addicts create and track goals, find support from others, share progress, and the app even offers free coaching. Allowing individuals to join a safe, sober community is just what many need. Not only do users of Sober Grid get help, but they can also give help to others, which can be empowering. 

Another feature of Sober Grid is that users can network with people by searching for others around the location they are in. Users can remain anonymous if they’d like. If both parties feel comfortable, they can meet up by using the app. Recovering addicts will feel more supported and motivated when they have other sober friends in their corner.

A review from Sober Grid:

Sober Grid is just like Facebook, but better. The content on the news feed is so helpful for us in the recovery process. It will give you inspiration and motivation to stay sober. Staff is caring, and so are users, you’ll make new great sober friends who’ll support you every step of the way. Simply amazing!

8. Streaks

Streaks App is a great app for better mental health.Streaks is another popular habit-tracking app that will help you reach your goals, no matter how big or small they are. Users can create up to 12 tasks at a time. Working on something every single day is the way to form new, solid habits. Even if the task isn’t appropriate for every day, users can set the days they want to track that participle behavior. 

Streaks even works on the Apple Watch, making it even more convenient to accomplish goals. 

A review from the App Store:

Streaks is amazing. I can’t say how much it has helped reinforce my habits. Every single time I think oh I’ll just take this one day off, I open streaks, and boom. No more internal debate, I’m getting it done, most times right at that moment. I use it for big and little things – cold showers, meditation, all the way to my diet, drinking a gallon of water, journaling, etc. 12 habits are the perfect amount too, not too many to lose track but the perfect sweet spot. I have recommended it to so many people.

9. MoodFit

MoodFit App is a great app for better mental health.MoodFit was voted the best overall mental health app for 2020! 

This app provides users with a comprehensive and customizable set of tools that will help them become the best they can be. The app includes the following:

  • Daily goals and self-care
  • Mood journal
  • Gratitude journal
  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Cognitive behavior therapy
  • Breathing exercises
  • Sleep and lifestyle
  • Therapy
  • Medication
  • Reminders and notifications
  • Custom activity tracking
  • Insights
  • Summary reports

It has a little bit of everything!

A review from MoodFit:

This app has changed my life! It has so many features and keeps me constantly in check with my mental health. I’m more aware of my thoughts, feelings, and reality. Helps me stay grounded and has tons of in-app features to get you through tough moments. 10/10 recommend!

10. Happify

Happify App is a great app for better mental health.The techniques and technology behind Happify are evidence-based, which means psychologists, researchers, and clinicians are behind what makes the app so successful. Happify helps users take control back of their thoughts and emotions. Feeling down? Log onto Happify and get engaged with one of their mood-boosting exercises. 

What the Happify experts share about the science of happiness:

  1. That the brain we’re born with can be changed. Technically speaking, they call that neuroplasticity. (You can teach an old brain new tricks.)
  2. We can change it by adopting new thought patterns, by training our brain as if it were a muscle, to overcome negative thoughts.
  3. All of us are hard-wired for negativity (blame evolution!) but can profoundly benefit from learning new ways to react and deal with everyday stresses.
  4. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to make a real difference in your life. A few simple and even entertaining mental diversions done regularly will change things.

Who wants to get happy? Download the app today! 

Conclusion for 10 Apps for Better Mental Health

The emergence of mobile and online technologies has opened up new resources for people with mental health issues. Many of these apps are free or low-cost and use methods backed by professional therapists. For those who need help but don’t have money, there are mental health apps for when you can’t afford therapy that can come to the rescue.

Brittany Cerny

Master of Education (M.Ed.) | Northeastern State University

Behavior and Learning Disorders | Georgia State University

Updated May 2021

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