There are a lot of great mental health apps out there, but some of the best require a subscription. If you just want some basic tools to help you manage your mental health, the US Departments of Veterans Affairs has a ton that they’ve developed for veterans but released for everyone to use.
You can find the full listing of apps here. Most are available for both iOS and Android, and they’re all free. There are also some web-based tools that don’t require you to install an app at all.
None of the apps are meant to replace professional mental health help, but they provide tools that can help you in between visits or when you aren’t ready or able to talk to someone. They tend to include information to help you learn about your situation, tools you can use like guided meditations, questionnaires to help you assess whether you’re making progress, and a diary to track your mood or how many times you’ve practiced the techniques in the app.
Among the ones worth checking out:
- Mindfulness Coach: You can learn about mindfulness, track how often you practice, and listen to dozens of guided meditations with specific purposes, like Building Compassion or Mindful Walking.
- COVID Coach: This one is for dealing with the various stresses of living through a pandemic, with tools for when you’re stressed, lonely, sad, angry, and more.
- PTSD Coach and PTSD Family Coach: These include tools for tracking and managing symptoms. The Family Coach is for family members of people with PTSD, and it includes ways of managing your own stress and emotions while maintaining a healthy relationship with the person you’re caring for.
- Stay Quit Coach: This one’s for quitting smoking. You can open the app to remind yourself of why you quit, and you can also track statistics like how long it’s been since you’ve quit and how much money you’ve saved.
- AIMS for Anger Management: This app provides relaxation tools you can use in the moment, as well as tools to track your feelings and make plans to respond better in the future.
- Insomnia Coach: Have trouble sleeping? This app guides you through learning sleep hygiene strategies and gives you tools to track your progress.
These apps may not be as fancy or absorbing as something like Headspace, but they are backed (in many cases) by tried-and-true psychological techniques that have helped people manage their mental health. If you’re looking for something that gets the job done without requiring a subscription or an account, these mental health apps may be the help you need.