I Tried 5 Popular Mental Health Apps. Here’s What Happened

Note: This article is not sponsored. My opinions are 100% honest. I did not pay for the Premium versions of any of these apps. I am not using them in coordination with real-life therapy appointments.

1.) Fabulous — Daily Self Care

The Fabulous app prides itself on its artistic, easy-to-use design. It comes with built-in soundtracks, ambiance noises, and specially designed backgrounds for user enjoyment. Basically, the app is curated to be a safe space: something pleasant to look at and listen to while working towards better mental health. From a viewing standpoint, it definitely delivers.

The other unique thing about the Fabulous app is that it takes its time in getting you to where you’re going. The recommended user path is that you add one positive step to your daily routine every day. For me, my first step was to drink a glass of water every morning, right when I woke up. Supposedly, it would wake me up more quickly and hydrate me so I would feel more refreshed. And, yes, it worked! The app let out a chime for me every morning at 6:30, right after I woke up, so that I wouldn’t forget to hydrate.

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From there, you continue building your morning routine in the app. After you’ve locked in the habit of drinking water each morning, a new habit will be added for you. Easy, right?

As nice as this app is, there were some things that weren’t working as well. The notifications were pretty easy to ignore, and, eventually, the routines (especially the afternoon ones) became overwhelming. The app’s routine options were limited. I truly don’t want to spend twenty minutes meditating in the afternoon, but the other options I had were things I’d already added to other portions of my routine. For example, I could set reminders to drink water every morning, afternoon, and evening, but I’d rather explore a new fundamental to add to my routine. However, my options were dwindling. I will admit that because I didn’t pay for the full version, I was missing a few paths.

Still, some habits that Fabulous gave me are sticking. I would say that my morning and evening routines have both improved. As for my overall mental health, I can agree that I feel more at-ease with stabilized night and morning routines. And, while using Fabulous, I generally felt happier and more energetic.

My rating: 4 stars

2.) Aloe Bud

Aloe Bud prides itself on having a sweet, minimalist design. Its function is to focus on simple, easy tasks that will improve your mental health. Most “tasks” take five seconds or less to complete. A few examples are: four seconds of breathing, take a drink of water, write down something you’re grateful for. You can also set medication reminders or meal reminders. Plus, if you select journaling options within the app, it will store everything you’ve written so you can reflect on your mental health progress.

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I like Aloe Bud because it’s a very easy, inspiring app. It’s by far the simplest mental health app I’ve come across, but its catchy health slogans and cute icons make me keep coming back to it. Aloe Bud is basically your very own mental health cheerleader, and that’s something that makes it hugely successful.

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Of course, every app has its downsides. I think Aloe Bud could stand to have a few more addable mental health tasks. And, as with Fabulous, there is a Premium option, meaning that a lot of slogans and notifications are off-limits. Because the app is so simple, it’s also not going to be able to do everything other mental health apps can. Its simplicity is both a benefit and a downside: while I can appreciate the easy-to-navigate design, it limits the app’s functionality.

After using Aloe Bud for some time, I felt that I had a few habits that stuck with me. The reminders worked really well for me, and I felt comforted by the app’s design, which made me use it more often. In particular, my nighttime routine was boosted by the app. I also found it easier to spare time for self-care.

My rating: 4.5 stars

3.) Youper

I didn’t have much faith in Youper at first. An AI can’t compare to actual therapy. However, I actually enjoyed using the app. The idea of having a “conversation” within the app — even if it isn’t real — is hugely beneficial, and it’s definitely something that sets Youper apart from other mental health apps.

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Youper has a lot of functions, and a surprising amount of them are free. It’s more of a one-stop mental health app: instead of having separate apps for meditation, journaling, mental illness control, and task reminders, it’s all contained within one. The app is still easy to use: the AI guides its users through most processes that take place within the app, giving you time to understand what you’re doing and why.

I still stand by my earlier point that an AI therapist will never be able to compare to an actual therapist. While the app is helpful, it’s no replacement for seeing someone face-to-face that can offer real-time solutions to unique problems. Because the text conversations are prompt-only, you won’t ever be able to describe and work on a specific problem. However, if you’re already working with a therapist and looking for a mental health boost, or if you’re going through a stressful period in your life and not looking to actively solve mental illness problems, Youper will be helpful.

For me, I enjoyed using Youper to feel like I was “speaking” to someone more actively regarding my mental health. I can’t say that it had a lasting effect for me, and I would definitely rather attend therapy than continue using the app, but I feel that it could be a viable option. I also liked the other in-app options it had for mental health exercises.

My rating: 4 stars

4.) stoic.

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stoic. also features a morning routine and evening reflection so that you can start and end your day properly. The app also includes personal mental health insights, guided journaling, and philosophical ideas to pave your path to improved mental health.

As with every other mental health app, stoic. also has a Premium version. However, with stoic., I felt that the free version wasn’t limited in any aspect. The app’s simplicity allows its users to experience all assets of the app, which is another unique bonus about stoic.

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Personally, I felt that the design of stoic. was very polished and pleasant to use. I don’t have any complaints about the app: it’s very honest in its function and does exactly what it sets out to do.

The quotes were definitely my favorite part of stoic., but I also thought that the guided mental health exercises were much more beneficial than the other apps on this list. I felt definitively calmer and more focused after using the app.

My rating: 5 stars

5.) Cove: music for mental health

Upon entering the app, you can choose several emotions you’re feeling to begin composing your song. Then, you’ll select a background noise to set the mood of your composition. The app’s design makes every song you create look like a beach, so you’ll place various “stones” that will make harmonies from different instruments and notes based on where you place them.

After you’ve finished composing, you can log your new emotions in the app (hopefully your song has made you feel better!) and journal about your creation. Then, the app stores your song so you can look back on it later and relisten to your music.

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It sounds complicated, but the app is easy to use and I had a beautiful song composed within minutes. Cove is by far my favorite app on this list: it’s a brilliant way to deal with mood swings and stress. I also find the music very grounding, so the program would also work to combat panic attacks. While the app is very different from most mental health apps — it doesn’t have meditation, notifications, or exercises — it was surprisingly helpful. Cove is also used in coordination with regular therapy, so it’s proven to boost mental health in more ways than one.

Again, be warned that with using Cove, you won’t get any motivational benefits from it. There is no therapy-based portion of this app, and it’s not designed to build routine mental health, only combat problems in the moment.

I typically used Cove as a way to take a break from working, or as a way to vent and release some emotion through music. I found it incredibly helpful and usually left the app feeling much better about my mood. Personally, I know the app will also work to quell panic attacks, which will be super useful.

My rating: 5 stars

Out of all of these apps, I ended up keeping Cove and Aloe Bud. For me, they’re the apps that are simple and easy to use (and don’t take up too much storage space). I can’t say they’re perfect, but they work really well for me. I encourage you to try out all of these apps to see which one works best for you!

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