Experienced teams know how to develop a mental health app combining functionality and ease of use.

Mental Health App Development: Ins and Outs

Psychological issues have always been a significant part of human life, but during coronavirus pandemic and strict quarantine, mental health app development becomes relevant more than ever, making more and more people turn to these helpful apps in terms of self-isolation.

Mental health app development occupies a firm place in the mobile app market as demand constantly grows. According to statistics, people suffering from any mental health disorder constituted 20.6% only amongst the US citizens. Depression leads among mental health illnesses with 3,8% of all population, and the figures are about to increase as people’s concern about psychological issues have risen over 28% in Europe and the US.

Due to these factors, the modern mobile market is stuffed full with diverse solutions addressing a variety of mental disorders. The problem is that many of them lack a proper scientific basis, thus supplying users with low- or average-quality services.

If you’re considering getting into the niche with your novel idea, you may find this piece useful.

To sort things out, OpenGeeksLab will dwell on the most important aspects of mental health app development, review the best already implemented methods and solutions. You will find out how to develop a mental health app to benefit both users and owners.

Core KPIs You Should Consider

While the team is working on how to create a mental health app, it is crucial to keep in mind essential KPIs to satisfy the target audience with all necessary features.

Many apps on the modern mobile market suffer a lack of active users despite a substantial number of downloads. Engaging customers is only half-way to success – you have to keep users’ loyalty, which is easier to reach with a basic understanding of crucial niche KPIs.

1. Target Audience

To conduct a professional target audience analysis, one must think over how to keep the user’s interest to make them use an app on a regular basis. It may be done via notifications or by making products a part of daily routine.

Besides, there exist vicarious factors to consider like cultural peculiarities, user background (scientifically grounded products or gamification model apps), demographics (for example, mental health apps for kids, mental health apps for teens, mental health apps for students, and many more), financial issues (paid or free mental health apps).

2. Expertise

Engaging experts as well as offering scientifically-based information is always a win-win option if we talk about mental health solutions. People become more cautious when it comes to individual wellness, thus choosing options backed with research, evidence, and stats.

While thinking of how to develop a mental health app, business runners must take into consideration that therapists have already worked out methods of dealing with certain disorders that have undergone medical testing by practicing doctors. To design a relevant digital solution, an entrepreneur is better to recreate one approved method within the app than give sketchy variants all at once.

3. In-App Human Support

Creating a mental health app, entrepreneurs should guarantee proper in-app help supplied by professional therapists. Doctor support can become a vital case of emergency, so ensuring its availability, business owners care about their users being safe and healthy.

4. Relevant Information

Supplying relevant and reliable information is a must for mental wellness apps, as even minor flaws may put a patient’s health in danger. Unfortunately, many apps that help with mental health provide outdated recommendations, inaccurate treatment guidelines, and so on. To avoid it, business owners must constantly keep content up-to-date, ensuring customers receive qualified help.


5. Design Guidelines

UI/UX standards for creating a mental health app imply minimalism and usage simplicity. Design should not contain elaborated elements or bright colors as they can trigger disorder aggravation. Besides, pay additional attention to audial effects – avoid sharp, loud sounds giving preference to mild relaxing melodies or sounds of nature.

6. Self-Monitoring Features

The inclusion of self-monitoring features usually has a positive impact on an individual’s progress because they learn to self-monitor potentially dangerous situations, spot triggers, hold control over mood patterns or sleep habits, and work out effective reactions.

7. Comprehensive Testing

While thinking of how to develop a mental health app, companies should not forget about comprehensive testing. Usability tests must be detailed and precise, as people may suffer attention problems, surplus sensitivity, and other issues. Engaging target audience representatives is a winning strategy to make service effective and maximally adapted to customer needs.

8. Motivational Triggers

Motivation triggers are important when you think of how to develop a mental health app, as most users do not have serious psychological illnesses meeting depression, anxiety, and lack of motivation. Giving small rewards (in-app coins, stickers, badges) make users feel better, as they get motivation. Gamification elements also encourage users to finish tasks they feel insecure about. Motivation triggers must be available for everyone because users can become disappointed if they do not get the desired reward.

9. Positive Communication

People who are experiencing psychological disorders download apps that help with mental health to overcome troubles by sharing and acceptance. One more priority to take into account in your mental health app development is creating safety and healthy communication, so users will not feel insulted or neglected. It can be implemented via strict moderation on forums or individual support in chats.

These elements above complete the fundamental basics of creating an engaging mental health app that will become a part of people’s healthy lifestyle and help them feel more satisfied. Therefore, developing a wellness app is a win-win option for both businesses and consumers.


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Why Creating a Mental Health App Is Beneficial for Users and Owners?

Throughout our life, many issues can cause stress, anxiety, or other mental problems. Almost every person can use mental health products to keep their state of mind clear and positive. In the United States alone, users made 215 thousand installs of mental health apps from October to November 2020. Of course, people are feeling more anxious during the pandemic, but with time, the tendency for wellness apps usage is still rising. For instance, in 2021 the revenue of mobile apps in the wellness industry in the UK reached 45 million dollars, whereas, in 2020, it was 25 million dollars. A similar dynamic we can see in Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, and other European countries.

For many people, mental health tracking has become a daily routine; therefore, mental health app developers use creativity to conduct new, highly functional products with many features that can help users stay healthy anytime. Users increase their knowledge by learning how their psyche works and what they can do when they experience problems. Customers with severe disorders get the ability to use apps to keep their state stable, find and contact doctors when they need help.

The mental health industry can provide both companies and users with various advantages making both parties benefit. To make a first-class product, mental health app developers must know about different categories of such apps.

Categories of Mental Health Applications

One of the main parts of the science of how to develop a mental health app is finding a specific niche and knowing the audience of this particular wellness category.

Mental health app development is primarily directed at delivering help to people having psychological issues. Niche provides varied opportunities: supporting people with disorders, connecting patients with therapists, motivating people to fight stress, depression, or bad habits.

Usually, apps are subdivided according to the core methodology used or problem to solve (for example,  preventing depression, encouraging personal motivation, developing a healthy schedule). Mental health test apps stand apart as they do not solve any issue: their main idea is to identify problems on time. Some applications may combine several solutions to roll out more comprehensive options.

1. Mental Disorder Apps

Mental disorder apps are designed specifically for users fighting serious illnesses like depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders, schizophrenia. Apps of this kind usually use proven treatment methods, including cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), mood monitoring, mindfulness, and cognitive skills training.

Digital psychological help providers have greatly changed the mental health niche, offering available alternatives to traditional therapist appointments or clinical treatment. Many patients can now feel free and secure with a 24/7 online doctor within their smartphones. Profound medical monitoring and live person–therapist communication make treatment easy for both parties.

Successful examples vary due to the diverse problems they solve.

  • MoodTools, MoodKit, Talkspace, Happify are believed to provide helpful opportunities for dealing with depression. Happify, in turn, is renowned for its activities and games that can help reduce stress and get rid of negative thoughts by understanding your moods and setting an intention to feel more present at the moment. This is an excellent example of mental health app development as it was designed with the help of therapists and coaches.
  • RR: Eating Disorder Management, Rise Up + Recover, Lifesum, Recovery Record represent effective ways of tackling eating disorders. For instance, RR: Eating Disorder Management helps recover from various eating disorders by keeping records of meals, customizing meal plans, and coping tactics. Moreover, it helps to track thoughts and feelings. One of the essential features of this app is in-the-moment support from a treatment team.
  • Schizophrenia HealthStorylines and UCSF PRIME stand among good mental health apps supporting people with schizophrenia.
  • Patients fighting PTSD may find a helpful PTSD Coach that offers self-assessment for PTSD, anger management, or helps to find support. Users customize this app based on their needs and preferences. Another stress management tool is Breathe2Relax that teaches users diaphragmatic breathing.
  • OCD issues are easier to tackle with such mental health apps as nOCD, Worry Watch. Mental health app developers of nOCD created tools in cooperation with therapists and patients. This app provides users with clinically supported guidance and motivational help if OCD episodes strike. WorryWatch helps recognize anxiety triggers, tracks feelings, changes their thinking patterns, and provides other options.
  • iMoodJournal and eMoods ensure coping with bipolar disorder. For example, users who have such a disorder can use eMoods for tracking their state on a monthly calendar. The app motivates people to analyze their mood ups and downs, tracking depressive symptoms, irritability, and elevated mood during the day. On a monthly calendar, users can see summarized color code showing the mood changes. This app lets consumers export this data to guide their therapist for improving patient care.

2. Mental Self-Improvement Apps

Self-improvement apps aim at checking general psychological health and relieving slight problems like stress, anxiety, negative thinking, frustration, bad habits. These apps bet on meditation techniques or even connect users with psychologists to ensure proper self-care solutions.

Mental self-improvement apps fall into several groups:

General Mental Health Apps

General-purpose apps specialize in maintaining users’ self-care via mood control and achieving success in implementing healthy habits. Mental health app developers may include varied features to their products, such as specified questions, community features, checklists.

The best examples of how to create a mental health app for this purpose are What’s Up and 7 Cups of Tea. 7 Cups provide customers with self-care guides, chatting with volunteers accessible 24/7, and confidential communication with licensed specialists for 150$ per month. At the same time, the What’s Up app provides multiple self-care activities to cope with stress, anxiety, anger, and other negative feelings.

Apps for Addiction Recovery

Fighting bad habits on one’s own can become an unbearable load, so many people need external help to make their life healthier. Apps supporting addiction recovery provide trackers, useful info, daily reminders, meditations, sharing experiences, as well as a supportive community.

Good mental health apps for addiction recovery include Twenty-Four Hours a Day, Squirrel Recovery.

Stress and Anxiety Apps

Stress, frustration, and anxiety stand among the most common problems modern people experience, thus apps helping to tackle these issues are in high demand. With numerous relaxation techniques and effective motivational plans, services guarantee positive results that will make their users feel comfortable again.

Best applications to overcome stress are CBT Thought Record Diary, Mind Shift, Smiling Mind.

3. Multipurpose Mental Health App

Sometimes one solution is equally applicable for mentally healthy people and those experiencing serious disorders. It becomes possible as one product offers varied functionality or services provided by different doctors, so anyone can find suitable self-care options.

Talkspace stands among the brightest multipurpose health self-care solution representatives, so let’s take a closer look at it. This well-known worldwide app has a vast network of mental health specialists and allows users to choose different subscription plans depending on their needs. So the cost of this app can vary. It provides users with few types of therapy support such as individual therapy, couple sessions, help to teenagers, and psychiatry. One of the disadvantages of this app is that it doesn’t have group therapy which can be crucial for some users. In a survey conducted by verywellmind project, 73% of users mentioned that experience with their specialist was very good or excellent.

Each category has its benefits; however, choosing the right one will help you properly conduct your wellness app development. After deciding on an app type, it is high time to find out about the necessary elements of apps in this industry.


How to Create a Mental Health App: Essential Features

It is crucial that the elements of mental health apps meet the audience's needs and balance multipurposeness and simplicity.

After defining the vector of your mental health app development, you should decide on key features ensuring smooth performance and high user engagement. As a rule, good mental health app developers provide the following features:

1. Signing Up

Ideally, it is good to make the sign-up process easy and short. However, it is necessary to get vital information such as full name, contact number, and email in wellness apps.

When you analyze how to develop a mental health app, it is better to find a balance between security and ease.

2. Creating a Profile

After successful registration, it is vital to form a detailed profile of each user. Firstly, users need to fulfill their health data and details such as disorders, allergies, intolerances, and chronic illnesses.

Moreover, it would be great to personalize their profile by adding a photo, age, and gender.

Additionally, you can ask other questions or add extra features depending on the type of your product. For example, if doctors will have to advise patience in your app, you might need a file uploading option to attach blood tests or other reports from specialists.

3. Self-monitoring

Self-monitoring features stand among key constituents of any mental health app development. It represents tools tracking users’ mood patterns, stress levels, or other data vital for mental health. Self-monitoring helps customers hold on to their inner state and prevent psychological troubles before they progress or track symptoms if a person has a psychological disorder. Besides, the feature often includes sleep and trigger trackers.

Whether you conduct mental health app development for people with severe disorders or healthy ones, sleep tracking can help everyone improve their productivity and set mental health habits. It is usually created for manual information or synchronized with a sleep analyzing device to get the most accurate metrics and design customized sleep plans. This feature can be combined with a mood tracker to help users see how they feel after a night of quality or anxious sleep.

Another self-monitoring tool is a mood tracker. It helps a consumer monitor moods throughout the day and examines how diet, lifestyle, or other external factors can affect users’ feelings. Primarily, people should have an ability to see the progress if they take specific medical treatment or therapy.

The trigger checker feature enables a user to analyze stressful situations that trigger a person for inappropriate actions. These tools are crucial if users have triggering conditions, and this extra feature helps patients and their therapists analyze those triggers.

Additionally, many users of mental health apps enjoy writing their thoughts to understand what’s going on inside. As it is not always comfortable to physically write down feelings and thoughts, app journals are a handy and secure solution.

To find out how to create a mental health app for your audience, it is better to determine which tools are necessary for your wellness app category.

4. Notifications and Reminders

Notifications and reminders become of prior importance when it comes to establishing a regular schedule and encouraging self-monitoring. As a rule, reminders contain information about planned events (relaxation sessions, journal records, therapist appointments, taking medicines, and so on) but notifications can be also designed to promote customized offers, updates, or discounts.

However, one should be cautious with applying notification features as users may find it irritating if excessive.

5. Sharing

Sharing current moods, therapy achievements or even new info is vital for mentally ill people. Mental health applications usually allow sharing information via a post on social media, directly with family members, confidants, third-party attending doctors, or other healthcare service providers. For example, users of iMoodJournal enjoy one feature for sharing moods on social media or via email.

6. Support Communities

Being a part of the supportive community significantly influences individual perception and in a majority of cases shows a positive impact upon therapy. Communications with peers help to share and encourage each other. A person with a psychological disorder may feel alone and depressed, as nobody in their circle shares this experience. Support groups may solve this problem, as one meets people passing through the same situation. Within mental health app developers’ products, users can share their experiences and give advice in safe surroundings through anonymized forums, chats, messages.

7. Patient–Therapist Connection

Providing proper doctor settling user’s issues is vital for apps that help with mental health, as it influences app’s rating and reputation. The algorithm matches user requirements with an appropriate therapist, ensuring interaction success.

8. Therapy Dashboard for Doctors

The therapy dashboard represents an ultimate tool for doctors to manage their patient info. Dashboards are usually designed as web apps, where therapists collect data from user smartphones (it can be question replies, shared journals, or customized surveys) and monitor their progress. Having information on cases systemized, psychologists conduct therapy correctly and reach success as soon as possible.

9. Reminders for Patients

When we talk about disorders where patients have to take medicine at a specific time during the day, mental health app developers should implement a set of alerts or notifications, thus helping users schedule their treatment.

10. Messengers and Chats

It is essential to know how to create a mental health app communication security, as patient-doctor interaction is performed mainly inside the app itself. The functional range must ensure various possibilities for therapist and patient to connect through text, audio messages, video, or live so users can choose the most suitable communication type.

11. Relaxing Exercises

Thanks to relaxing and meditation techniques, wellness apps have become a part of a daily routine for many users. Various breathing exercises, simple yoga workouts, positive meditation, or prayers can help users set a positive intention for the day or calm down while working. These are just a few such ideas that you can think of and implement during mental health app development.

12. Gamification

Interactive simple games with positive and relaxing designs can improve cognitive skills and help patients to relax. You can connect it to a daily routine, thus increasing the loyalty of your customers. Therefore, mental care can turn into fun with this additional element, so count this while tapping into mental health app development.

13. Psychoeducation

Apart from providing users with mood analysis, achievements sharing, or getting professional support, it is a great idea to give users information on various topics, from specific illnesses to well-being. For example, there is a short radio podcast in the Headspace app for creating a positive and calm intention for the day ahead.

14. Emergency Support

Another crucial point that mental health app developers must keep in mind is emergency calls or messages. Especially we talk about users who have anxiety, panic attacks, or similar issues. It would be great if you provide them with an option to send emergency messages to their caregivers with one click.

Apart from features listed above, mental health applications may provide additional functionality like calendars or checklists to raise self-monitor awareness, mood journals allowing tracking mood patterns, feelings, thoughts in varied forms (text, video, audio messages, and more), meditations providing diverse tools for depression/anxiety relieving.


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Mental Health App Data Protection

Personal data security stands among the top priorities companies should care about, as mental health app development deals with so-called ‘sensitive information’. Many mentally insecure customers prefer using digital therapy instead of traditional one, as the app presupposes fewer participants involved (or even total exclusion of anybody except the user) and presumably has a higher confidentiality level. However, to make customer expectations meet reality, mental health app developers must follow certain legal regulatory guidelines like HIPAA, GDPR, and other standards that prevent the risk of personal data being exposed.

Besides, healthcare services must be provided exclusively by certified therapists that have correspondent licenses. Hiring qualified experts to help not only increases app efficiency but also avoids any civil or even criminal penalties. Therapists should also have basic knowledge in the legal sphere of the country in interest as mental health practices are usually liable to the government at different levels.

Main Monetization Strategies for Mental Health App Development

While thinking of how to create a mental health app, businesses should decide on a proper monetization strategy.

Launching mental health applications provides varied revenue models, most popular of them being:

1. Freemium

Freemium remains one of the most popular revenue models with both entrepreneurs and customers, as it allows engaging different user sectors at once. As a rule, the freemium app provides a limited range of features for free, though if a user wants more functions or content available, they must buy it via in-app purchase. The freemium strategy also may grant a free version with all functionality available during the limited trial period and after it finishes customers should pay to get the app permanently.

2. Subscriptions

The subscription revenue model implies performing regular payments to access constantly replenished content like continuous guides, videos, podcasts. Rates and terms are up to product owners, though one app usually provides several regular payment plans as well as customized ones. Subscriptions are loved by customers who prefer using apps periodically, as they can spare money during intervals.

3. Paid Apps

Paid apps strategy is similar to freemium one but a user does not have access to the app before the actual purchase in the correspondent app market. Some companies may also offer bonuses or free minor co-products if a customer buys a certain application.

4. In-App Ads

Also, you can generate revenue using advertising banners or widgets. But you have to be careful with this option because of its specific audience and purpose. For example, in a mental disorders app it is better to avoid this monetization model. However, in mental self-improvement apps, you can use it. Still, it would help if you chose a trustworthy ads provider to show relevant materials that have a positive and calm influence on users.

5. Links with Related Services

Additionally, you can advertise and sell products through internal links showing related products like books, podcasts, or workshops.

Using the options above, you can choose the best model for your specific mental health app development.

Hire Our Vetted Mental Health App Developers to Build a Product That Makes a Difference!

The mental digital health market undoubtedly stands among the most significant segments supporting society.

Finding a balance between adding all necessary features and keeping the app easy to navigate is crucial in mental health app development. An essential part of deciding how to create a mental health app is choosing a specific category of a wellness software product and deeply analyzing your audience to satisfy users.

If you have an interesting idea of how to help people fighting their mental issues, it is high time to set it in action. Contact us to develop an app that will become a lifesaver for your customers.

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