Although psychological assistance has always been in demand, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need for psychological help. In light of this, mental health apps are used as a lifesaver for both medical professionals and users. In many cases, users prefer to handle stress, anxiety, depression, and other well-being issues on their own. Thus, it should come as no surprise that mental health apps are on the list of top healthcare trends. However, the market of such apps is becoming more competitive. Hence, if you’re trying to develop your mental health app, let us help you make it stand out.
What is a mental health app?
Surely, you have heard of this many times, but what does a mental health app mean? Generally, mental health apps are used to improve mental aspects of users’ health. The in-app features cover a variety of wellness aspects, such as meditation, anxiety management, and sleep, and offer opportunities to:
- Take one’s time to chill and rest;
- Struggle with psychological disorders (chronical pain, stress);
- Improve sleep and monitor user condition;
- Ensure remote patient-doctor contact;
- Improve cognitive and behavioral functions;
- Maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Pay attention that these apps are not designed to diagnose a condition or replace help from a health professional. The assistance of doctors is still vital in acute cases. Rather, mental health apps support the user’s overall health. Think of it as a convenient way to get extra help between therapy sessions or office visits (or to take a break and meditate regularly).
There is no doubt that, due to the pandemic, the spread of such apps has dramatically increased. A quick look at the evidence shows that the mental health apps market will grow from $5.54 billion in 2022 to $10.25 billion in 2026 (Globe Newswire). It’s also predicted that users will demand more health apps in the future. Thus, it would be appropriate to analyze what types of apps are most in-demand.
Types of mental health apps
By knowing the main types of mental health applications, you will be able to understand what features you’ll need to incorporate in your own app. Here is a list:
- Mental disorders: these apps are used to monitor the mental state of users and also provide help for certain disorders (i.e. anxiety);
- Post-traumatic stress disorder: for users who suffer from posttraumatic experiences. Such apps include integration of the user’s contacts for immediate help;
- Eating disorder: these apps help improve eating habits, provide useful recommendations and allow to set up eating goals;
- Meditation and self-improvement: for users who need to meditate and relax;
- Stress and anxiety control: these apps allow users them to monitor and manage emotions.
However, most mental health apps usually combine several functions and it’s up to users to choose what their main goal is.
In turn, our next step is to identify the features of a mental health app.
The core features of a good mental health application
In order to develop an effective mobile health app, the user must be the focus. The app should be user-friendly and valuable so users receive needed help and assistance. And even though every mental health app is quite unique, most apps still share a set of core must-have features.
A user dashboard displays the summary of a user’s activity within the app, such as a number of completed meditations, achieved goals, and etc. Think of it as of an advanced user profile that contains not only the information about the user but also helps to track one’s progress and see set objectives.
Various formats of content
Aside from having high-quality content, it would be excellent to have additional video and audio options (i.e. sleepcasts). Information may be available in several formats: photos, audio recordings, videos, podcasts, and live broadcasts. Examples of content are:
- Meditation and breathing exercises;
- Daily mood-lifting affirmations;
- Educational guides, lectures, and webinars;
- Blog posts;
- Educational videos.
Furthermore, the most suitable solution for your mental app is to offer on-demand content relevant to specific situations. It is also necessary to attach video and audio files from sessions to allow users to view the information again.
Ensure that the content is regularly updated and personalized. For this, you can offer feedback features based on user interactions, including likes and dislikes, or offer content similar to what users enjoy.
Daily progress tracker
The monitoring of one’s mental health usually involves manual data entry, but it may also be synchronized with a wearable device (i.e. a fitness bracelet). With the help of the collected data, users can analyze their behavioral patterns and adapt their goals based on accurate metrics.
Features to incorporate into your app to track a user’s health may include:
- Symptom-specific questions;
- A section for comments;
- Regular assessment tests;
- Lists of daily, weekly, and monthly tasks;
- Self-monitoring reminders.
Notifications and reminders
Reminding users about certain activities and enabling push notifications and reminders is very helpful. When struggling with a certain mental health disorder, users may tend to forget to take their medication or perform a healthy activity. Hence, reminders ensure users will use the app regularly.
An app may remind users of the following:
- Consult with a specialist;
- Take medicines;
- Maintain a regular schedule;
- Check their mental state during the day;
- Engage in an exercise;
- Form a habit of relaxing.
Additionally, it is reasonable to send motivational and encouraging notifications, as well as affirmative messages, to keep users engaged. But, the use of too many notifications can add stress to the daily routine, so do not overdo it.
Meditation and mental activities
Meditation and mindfulness can be very useful additions to therapy sessions, especially for psychological issues. Besides, it would be helpful if you made recommendations based on what users watch most often. For example, you could tag meditations based on their purpose, such as “for stress,” or “for motivation”. Finally, the user doesn’t have to scroll through long meditation lists to find their desired meditation.
You can also include various activities in your app: breathing exercises, stretching, or yoga. As a result, in-app activities may help patients control their feelings better, clarify their feelings, and lead more conscious lives.
Professional help and support
A really helpful feature of a mental health app is an option to communicate with health professionals. By using the application database, patients can select a doctor according to their specialty, qualification, and cost of services. Moreover, your app’s ability to automatically select the expertise of a specialist may be a huge advantage. Both options should allow for easy scheduling of in-person or online therapy sessions.
In order to complete this feature, you can include:
- Online forums and groups where users can share their experiences, ask for advice, or encourage one another;
- Chats with doctors after sessions;
- Doctor-patient file sharing;
- Chat, send audio messages and call with a 27/7 consultant.
To conclude, your mental app will be more efficient and provide a better user experience if you obtain professional assistance.
Wearable devices are in demand today not only as an attractive accessory but also as a health-monitoring tool. This is why you can offer to connect their devices to your app.
A wearable device can allow users to measure their heart rate, activity level, and sleep cycle through an app, which can be linked to their profile. You’ll need a healthcare API that allows data to be transferred between the two applications. Having an app that integrates with third-party services makes it easier for users to keep track of their overall wellness and provides helpful health insights to medical professionals.
Based on what we’ve discussed so far, mental health apps are able to facilitate treatment, but full medical help is still necessary. Finally, keep your app’s security in mind. During development, it is important not only to provide security for apps but also to ensure that users’ privacy is protected. But in general, a user-designed app for mental health is a solid way to improve an individual’s mental well-being now and, particularly, in the future.