Best apps for mental health in 2020

Best apps for mental health in 2020

Mental health apps have been on the rise for years. Choosing one that helps you achieve your goals can be a challenge. Here we talk about the best free apps, the best apps for mindfulness and the best apps for mental health care.


There are tons of different mental health apps available. So, choosing the right one for you can be a lot of trial and error.

Top 5 mental health apps in 2020

These are listed in no particular order; mental health and addiction treatment should be individualised: Our entire program is based on working with people one-on-one to establish a program that’s tailored to give them the very best results. Different approaches (and apps) work for different people. These mental health apps are the most popular amongst our clients and team members.

1) Waking up by Sam Harris

This is a meditation app by Neurologist and philosopher Sam Harris.

Sam Harris is a frequent tv and podcast personality, as well as an author who advocates the benefits of mindfulness. He’s also a known Athiest, who ranks in popular culture with the likes of Richard Dawkins.

For DARA Rehab client Jack*, who says it’s hard to “believe in something bigger than yourself,” apps that are non-religious and non-12 step based can be appealing. At Lanna Rehab and DARA Rehab we provide the option of 12 step meetings, but the core of our program is based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Cost: This app does cost money, but if you can’t afford to pay for it, you can email the Sam Harris team for free access.

How does mindfulness help with recovery from addiction? Click here to find out more.

2) Daylio

Are you aware of how you feel? Mood tracking apps like Daylio aim to help you be more attune to how you feel. Ultimately being aware of your emotions can make you happier, more productive and less likely to relapse.

Therapist Henry Magnus says, “when you are in recovery – being aware of your mood is very important. This app is easy to use. You simply click a face emoting a mood. It helps to make the link between activities and levels of happiness.”

The app has additional functionality like a diary.

Cost: Daylio has a free version and a ‘premium’ version. We suggest starting with the free option and upgrading if it works for you.

3) Headspace

Have you ever had trouble sleeping? When you’re in recovery sleep patterns can change. In most cases they improve significantly but there’s usually a transition phase while your body and your mind adapt to drug-free and alcohol-free sleep. Headspace aims to help sleep, by improving mindfulness. It utilises meditation exercises that are simple and easy to follow. It incorporates some light exercise activities like walking, to support a healthier lifestyle. New ‘community stories’ are featured regularly so you can get a feel for the diversity of people who use it from around the world.

Jacob, a client of ours, who recently returned for his one week refresher, says, “this is the one that worked for me. Headspace helped me center myself at the end of the day. Instead of being in a busy office or house, it forced me to shut myself in a room for a few moments each day and breath. I’m a big fan.”

Cost: This app offers a short trial period so you can download it and try a few of the exercises. Then it’s about $100 annually.

4) Stoic

Calm, centred and focused. These seem to be the three words that kept being repeated again and again, when using Stoic. This is for the deep thinkers, particularly for those who are familiar with philosophy. A thoughtful quote greets you at the beginning and end of each meditation session, such as “If a man knows not to which port he sails, no wind is favourable.” – Seneca.

The app is modeled after Lucius Annaeus Seneca – the ancient philosopher – and his thinking on the pursuit of happiness. In his ancient writings he ponders what makes people happy; as well as what stops an individual being happy.

This app cleverly adapts and packages his musings as part of modern mindfulness exercises that use visuals and sounds.

It makes the user feel present with thoughtful and provocative questions like ‘What is your focus today?’ with a multiple choice menu at the beginning of an exercise; and question at the end asking ‘What is the single most important thing you need to do today?’

The fact that the answers are often quite different, often highlights what really matters and can put life in perspective. For example, if you start with a focus on work, and end with a focus on family.

Cost: Free

5) Cove

Do sounds soothe you? Cove claims to ‘create music for your mental health’ and it does just that. Using intuitive graphics you can identify how you are feeling. That first step sets the tone for the track, and then you can add bass and trebble and an array of sounds to turn it into an actual song. It’s described as ‘expressive therapy’, and give the user a way to emote without words in a similar way that art and music therapy do.

As opposed to many of the other apps there isn’t a time constraint on it. You can spend one minute or 15 minutes, and tear away when you want.

The ‘About us’ section describes it being intended for ‘young minds’ but we can picture any age finding this interesting, even if just for a few minutes a week.

Cost: Free

Best mental health app

Ultimately mental health apps should never be substituted for in-person mental healthcare, but they can be a great way to supplement it. If you want to delve into the digital world of mindfulness, meditation and music therapy then we suggest downloading all 5 of the above and testing out which one helps you best.

If, on the other hand, you need more support – Don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

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Anne Lazarakis joined the Lanna Rehab team in 2019, from Sydney, Australia. She writes about addiction and mental health as a global issue, often focusing on our own client experiences and linking these to broader social trends. Before joining our team, she worked for several health services with a focus on equality of care, including the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the Royal Hospital for Women Foundation. Mental health - particularly addiction - is often stigmatised. Stigmas associated with these areas prevent people from seeking help and recovering. Barriers can be gender, religion, or culturally-based. In some parts of the world mental health is not even recognised as a health condition. By sharing people's stories, and making information more readily available, Anne advocates for accessibility of care for all.



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