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PUBLISH DATE: Dec 22 2022
UPD: Jan 17 2024
Reading time: 7 minutes
Business Healthcare

How to Create a Mental Health App and Succeed: The 2023 Guide

Mental health apps are a strong tool for boosting your company. Why not try developing them?

Regrettably, the events that can undermine us are abundant: wars, epidemics, and natural disasters occur yearly. Even transitioning from home to office jobs is a problem for some of us. With the fall of COVID-19, it’s normal to feel excessive pressure in our lives again. The mental health app development is a perfect opportunity in this light. One can capture a potent market if one invests in some apps for improving mental condition. In this article, we’ll look at how to succeed with such development.

Top Things You Should Know About Mental Health App Development

Mental health app development has three vital components you should consider. Here they are:

The need to make programs engaging and relaxing

The first factor in developing such software is making the programs more convenient and relaxing. 

  1. Firstly, the developers must offer attractive functions. A user should feel real benefits from using the software. This means that interaction with the app must be simple and without obstacles. 
  2. Secondly, you should make everything relaxing. If your program has some elements irritating the user, it’ll fail unless you consider improvements. The aforementioned smooth interaction and the absence of distractions are essential. A good design for such software involves subdued colors and a lack of loud sounds. For mental health app development, you should target emotional health practices of this type.

Automating some of the vital relaxing activities

Automating critical processes allows users to do everything faster. They don’t need additional steps. By pushing a button, the clients can turn on relaxing audio and voice instruction and start meditating. Reminders and push notifications will improve the users’ scheduling. A sleep app offers automatic recommendations based on clock data. So, integrating the best features will engage more users and make your app as useful as possible.

Maximal confidentiality

Mental wellness app solutions touch upon the most vulnerable parts of our lives. A data leak about an eating disorder or depression can hurt a person. For this reason, proper app development in this field always includes investments in security. You should add protections to prevent leaks from the user’s smartphones. There should also be options for storing data on your servers. Preferably, you shouldn’t collect such data at all. If you do, encrypt it as much as possible. Your users must safely share their personal information in the mental health apps. Don’t betray their trust: this mistake can destroy your business in such cases.

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Types of Mental Healthcare Apps

Types of Mental Healthcare Apps

Here are some of the most important goals for which you can create a mental health app:

Mood and anxiety control

Fear and negative emotions (such as rage) are the issues we sometimes face. Many of them aren’t pathological. Nonetheless, their impact isn’t pleasant, regardless of the classification. Mood and anxiety control programs help people work on some problems of this type. Their format can be divergent. These can be general wellness apps. They can offer better schedules for eating and sleep to decrease stress. You can also give some affirmations or ancient wisdom to people. A person in a bad mood or anxiety can learn much from Stoic philosophy. Meditation techniques are other possible options. In short, everything capable of decreasing stress works in this case.

Pathological mood and anxiety problems

In some cases, fear and bad mood become difficult to manage. They can be pathologic in nature. Clinical depression or generalized anxiety is among similar mental health disorders. In such cases, apps can help remove some symptoms. Their format may be similar to the ones mentioned above. You may focus on improving schedules, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for negative thinking, or some encouraging philosophy. But we have a cautionary note: starting such programs without a psychiatrist’s advice isn’t a good idea. Mental health apps can be for some people if they contain non-scientific ideas. So, unless you’re ready to engage in mental health app development according to proper guidelines, you better target individuals without pathologies. Working with them offers limited liability as long as you highlight that people with genuine mental health programs must consult doctors.

Problems with eating patterns

Many people either overeat or don’t eat enough today. Anorexia and bulimia are common mental illness challenges for many girls and young women across the globe. Many men also ‘eat for their stress,’ as an Eastern European saying goes. This leads to problems with weight (either it becomes too big or too low). Overcoming these problems is possible only if a person monitors their activities closely. To lose or gain weight, you must have a clear schedule for eating. Dietary apps for mental health problems are crucial here. You can offer to calculate the calorie intake and remind a person of the eating time. Some calculators for the optimal diet can also work. Just remember the liability for such mental health mobile apps. We don’t recommend making programs that target hardcore disorders without the psychiatrist’s consent. Always consult dieticians and mental health professionals before presenting such content. If you don’t want to do this or can’t, it’s better to offer the most general content that may be harmless. A disclaimer must also be present.

Self-improvement for healthy people

The best way to ensure mental health is to focus on improvement. A happy person with a good schedule isn’t likely to get some serious problems. Several programs can help with such improvement. Firstly, your mental health app developers can focus on good old scheduling or habit implementation. The mental health tracker app model will always be popular with many people. An app that helps control the day or start some habits is useful for clients. It can offer them a chance to upgrade their lives by giving up smoking or taking up jogging. Secondly, you can help with mindfulness. Here, meditations can have a less anxiety-centric focus and concentrate on improving attention. The list is endless. A collection of Greek and Roman philosophers’ quotes can also be enticing for many. What matters is the ability to improve people’s lives. How you do this depends on you.

Generally, these four types of apps are the most popular today. This classification is goal-centric. The reason is simple: it enables you to choose the form of the app, focusing more on its target audience.

Top 10 Features for Mental Health Apps

Top 10 Features for Mental Health Apps

Modern mental health apps should focus on the following features:

# 1: Comfortable profile system

One of the key things about any mental health system is personalization. Your program should offer advice specific to some person. For this reason, you must have a system of user profiles that’s as comfortable as possible. Your sign-up process has to feature no complex components. The best option is to offer registration through the existing accounts on Google or Facebook. Profiles themselves should be easy to configure too. A person must have a clear view of their configurations for mental health services. We also recommend a delete button. This option is crucial for the comfort of people who care about their privacy. The fewer obstacles you put into registration and changing account settings (a photo, for example), the better.

# 2: Analysis of a person’s well-being

Some people may have problems expressing their emotions. They may not understand what sadness or anger is. In this light, it takes time to assess one’s mental state. Mental health app development should always consider that some people aren’t good at understanding their state. The goal of such apps is to unveil them to the target audience. What do we recommend? Start with some surveys and tests. Even 10-item tests can tell much about a person. You can find out if they’re overworked, for example. This method is the best for preventing pathologies. It’s also enticing for people. Such analysis shows you care about their mental state.

# 3: Diary and journaling tools

Ancient Stoics recommended recording personal thoughts about some events as a part of old behavioral therapy. One of the most famous Stoic works, the “Meditations” of Marcus Aurelius, is a diary. By writing something, people better express their thoughts. Rereading is also a great choice for understanding personal progress. Writing calms people, enabling them to express fury or sadness and forget about them. This is a perfect way to defeat the feeling of being overcome with emotions that are often so shameful for many of us. Offer some automated question-centric or audio diaries to your audience. In this way, you can make their experience convenient and useful.

# 4: “Contact specialists” option

Sometimes, our problems are too big to win against them alone. No one should be ashamed of finding a specialist. A good mental health app must offer such an option. The user must have a chance to chat with some professionals via text or video. Your mental health app developers have to offer as many options as possible. The reason is simple: some people may find certain types of communication uncomfortable. Never ignore their wellness. As for the specialists, you can work with some independents seeking volunteer jobs or hire people yourself. Everything depends on the scope of your firm and the funds you have. If you target advanced mental disorders, it’s better to have internal specialists to prevent reputation damage. Giving contacts to some organizations is sometimes sufficient too. A person should feature quick access to help.

# 5: Learning videos and audio

Some people may need special instruction for themselves. Certain individuals simply don’t like to read. Others even can’t do this due to disability or lack of education. You should offer content in several forms. Don’t simply use text. Give quotes or instructions in different formats. The more, the better. On-demand video and audio are some of the best options here. You should be as informative as possible.

# 6: Immediate mental help

Sometimes, our mental problems get too difficult to bear. Certain people get panic attacks after overwork. The death of someone we love is also a painful event that can push us to the brink regarding emotional health. Our jobs and lives won’t let us stop for such moments of weakness. In these cases, mental help is the best option. When engaging in mental health app development, ask your team to provide contacts of some professionals who can help fast. You, once again, can have your team. Another option is offering outside help. Whatever option your choose, many of the users will thank the mental health app developers for delivering immediate help. Just as our body may sometimes need urgent help, so does the spirit.

# 7: Mindfulness and meditation options

The way to overcome depression and anxiety is ‘to be here and now.” We may suffer due to living in the past or the future. Stoics (the mental health professionals of the past) say that people either eat themselves alive for mistakes or think about the future grimly. The problem is you can’t change the past, and even if some pain appears in the future, the act of suffering before it doubles the impact. Mindfulness and meditation can help a person overcome these problems. Help the users focus on breathing or walking in the current moment. The idea is to be mindful of the body here and now. This approach disrupts the focus on the past and the future.

# 8: Contact other users

Forums and chats help people communicate with other individuals who may be struggling with mental health. This method of communication is beneficial for several reasons:

  1. Firstly, chats and forums give many tools for spreading positive practices. People can learn better ways to use your program. 
  2. Secondly, these forums are a perfect way to cooperate. Friends there can control each other to better avoid addiction to food, for example. 
  3. Thirdly, forums give a way to collect app feedback in one location. People can give you interesting directions for mental health app development today.

# 9: Automatic notifications

Mental problems result from bad habits. Some people overeat. Others tend towards negative thinking. Push notifications tell people when they should go to bed or do meditation. The idea is to automate as much as possible. Many people want to engage in good habits but simply cannot concentrate. Mood trackers offer as much help as possible to push people toward positive actions.

# 10: Integrating with other services

The final factor to consider is integration with other platforms. Many options described here may be complex for one app. Mental health app development requires additional approaches. Have a list of the allied apps and services for your company. It’s natural to work with mental health organizations, for instance. They can offer healthcare apps that perfectly complement your program. Integrations allow you to promote your software. You can have programs for different goals. As a result, this modular approach may help people choose what they need from your service. Mental health app development requires a combination of several elements.

How to Create a Mental Health App?

How to Create a Mental Health App?

To create a mental health app, you need to follow several steps. What are those? Let’s look at the following:

1. Study the existing solutions

Many ideas that seem good already exist. This means you should always look at the market before entering it. Firstly, evaluate available apps. Are they good? Is there any space for improvement? Do some apps follow the correct pathway for meditation? What about mental health specialists’ help? If the answer to any of those questions is negative, think about an investment. Secondly, see who the competitors are. If these are some big companies, you risk a lot. When you have a novel idea, some businesses may copy it. An aggressive attempt at taking you over is also possible. The best choice is to enter markets that have many small participants instead of big players.

2. Create a team of developers

Once you see that the market matches your project, finding developers is the next step. Mental health app development usually requires people who know mobile platforms well. Here, you have two options. You can either find an outsource team or hire people and open a firm. When your app is limited in scope, the first option is better. When you strive for something bigger, the latter is more advanced. In development, outsourcing and outstaffing are both practical solutions. So, to select the suitable one for your project, you should understand their difference. The more experience people have, the better.

3. Create feature prototypes and overall design

When you have the project idea and a team, start testing various ideas. Create a clear plan for your app. Describe what you want to see. Then, transition to making imitations of your features. If you have meditation, make mock simulations of your program. CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) mental health treatment? Test it! The more you know about the solution, the better. One of the main goals is to create a realistic basis for your product. By the end, you should understand the prototype you create.

4. Create an MVP

After testing various solutions and analyzing them, focus on deploying the first version of your app. How to develop a mental health app? Primarily, focus on creating unique functionality. An MVP is a Minimum Viable Product. This means your goal is to create something that shows your main feature with minimal resources and can go to market. If you have a unique meditation framework, show it. Do you want to deliver quotes better than others? Focus on this feature. Don’t add anything else in this case. People will love your product for the central idea. Forum tools or immediate mental health help are nothing but bonuses, the icing on the cake.

5. Push the program release and improve it

If your MVP is successful, you should start to move in the direction of its release. We recommend adding some functions that will finalize the functionality you want to develop. Give some supporting tools such as forums. Then, provide a full-scale version. The best choice is not to leave it alone. Instead, you should focus on further development (especially if the app is payment-based). This way, you’ll maintain interest in the app and attract more people. Users love when programs offer updates; expanding them is worthwhile.

Trends in Mental Health App Development

Several key trends exist in mental health app development:

  • Greater focus on scientific methods: more platforms care about approval from medical specialists. Their developers work with various psychologists and psychiatrists to deliver safe features;
  • Better integration of mental health help: specialist assistance is essential for people since finding solutions personally is challenging. Mental health software tries to insert such help. It gives people an opportunity to use the services of other organizations or provide the help of psychologists who work for such firms;
  • Increasing integration: mental health requires a combination of several actions. You need to have a good schedule, eat well, and meditate properly. More and more apps cross-link diverging programs for this reason. They can belong to your firm or the relevant partners.

Challenges in Mental Health App Development

Mental health app development has several obstacles:

1) Mental safety: your tool has to be ‘gentle’ to prevent harm to the users’ mental health. Some untested techniques can damage a person’s mental state. You have to be careful with your programs;

2) Confidentiality: mental health apps involve personal information, implying that any leaks can harm the users. To prevent such scenarios, you need investments in encryption and software protection. People may share information only if you offer something safe to them;

3) Increasing complexity: the niches for easy solutions are taken. This means you have to invent something more sophisticated. In practice, this factor means that your program will become more complex. How to develop a mental health app? You have to offer better solutions than those on the market. Doing so requires great coding expertise.

How Are Mental Health Apps Profitable?

You earn on mental health apps in several ways:

1. Subscription-based model

The most popular approach is asking users to pay for the service monthly. They can offer some payment, and you give them the service. This model is popular for premium apps with many features. It’s potentially profitable as all ‘serious’ users are paying. However, the demand for mental health app development standards is much higher. You have to offer an impeccable product.

2. Partnering with brands

Some companies search for options that can improve their reputations. Investments in mental health are popular. You can monetize this tendency by asking for partnerships with brands. One can offer a free or freemium (a combination of basic free and extended paid versions) version of some software to the customers and get money from the partner., you have to show the brand of some other business on your app. This factor can be great for you because some brands have an outstanding reputation among people. Still, beware: some brands are toxic.

3. In-app ads

The Android and iOS platforms for ads are out there to help you. They are the most common way to monetize a program. How to create a mental health app that is profitable? Do something that works and then add the traditional advertisement models to it. Some people earn money from this factor alone. For many, it’s enough. Here is a classic framework: you can offer an ad-centric free approach and an ad-free premium one.

4. Sponsorship from other apps

Apart from ads, you also win from cross-app sponsorships. When using Android, you’ve likely noticed that it offers many ads referencing other programs. Some developers will pay you to promote their solution within your app. This model is an addition to the advertisements.

5. Crowdfunding

Some free and open-source software lives solely off donations. Nonetheless, crowdfunding isn’t a process that works for everyone. If your app is useful, you can rely fully on it. Mental health app development sometimes provokes many ‘thank-you’ donations from customers. Certain people may want to pay you. In our opinion, this method can work, but it’s better to focus on combinations with freemium models.

Top 5 Mental Health Apps

Top 5 Mental Health Apps

Let’s examine some top programs that dominate the market today:

Happify: CBT and Profiling

Happify is a service that provides you with a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy games and mood tests. This method allows the app to track your feelings and offer solutions for current problems. The framework combines several options into one to make a perfect tool. 

Talkspace: Help from online professionals

Talkspace is a therapy app that gives access to licensed specialists. Through this program, you can access real professionals. If you need urgent help or can’t solve some personal problem, this app is among the best. Millions of people use it, showing that the specialist-centric model works.

Better Help: Affordable therapist platform

Better Help is another platform that delivers access to licensed therapists. You can find many experts here and communicate with them about the relevant problems. If you require urgent help, the platform works well too. One of the key characteristics of the service is its low price. Better Help offers some of the cheapest options for mental health help, according to its website.

Woebot: AI-powered mental health bot

How to develop a mental health app? One can go for something traditional, but all the niches are under the control of big corporations. The thing that matters is innovation: AI is now advanced enough to draw pictures that win contests. What about helping humans? Woebot is a platform that gives you advice on mental health through artificial intelligence. You can communicate your problems to it, and the framework will offer insights into some of your problems. It isn’t perfect, but the platform works for many everyday problems. Most likely, at least some part of therapy in the future will feature a focus on automatic platforms. Just ensure that you don’t try to work with something complex.

Stoic Bible: Ancient wisdom for better health

This app delivers you access to the key texts of the ancient philosophers who closely worked with mental health. You can find Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, and Seneca there. The platform offers its selection of daily quotes. More importantly, it’s one of the most complete collections of philosophical works. Using it, you can learn about the dichotomy of control or virtue philosophy. Those who apply these approaches can become better in their everyday and professional lives. If you’re still in doubt, here is a little fact: CBT takes its inspiration directly from Stoic philosophy.

Keenethics Experience in Mental Health App Development

We have executed several case studies in healthcare software development. One of them is uMore, a mental health therapy app designed as a response to Covid-19. The app allows people to track and care about their well-being during the pandemic and hereafter.

uMore is an AI-powered app helping people track their behavior and reduce stress and bad habits. The benefit is the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) included in the app. It’s the scientifically proven method that identifies stress levels. People get results and figure out what is important to them and why. In addition, they can share their information with family and physicians to get the necessary support when experiencing a difficult time.

If you have an idea, the best is to address a web development company specializing in software development. Contact us and get a consultation from Keenethics. 

Mental Health App Development Costs

Some of our readers may have the following question: how expensive is mental health app development? It depends on the scope of mental health app development. A small program can start from approximately $10 000 for the development cycle. Something bigger can take up to $100 000 and beyond. The largest companies even invest millions into such development. In our experience, the common price is $40 00. In the future, this price will rise as the market demands increasingly complex solutions.


All in all, mental app development should be clear for you now. How to create a mental health app? Well, the process isn’t different from the traditional approaches on the market. What matters is the “why.” Here, you have many options. If you’re interested in the field, feel free to ask our company for help. We know much about mental health app development and can offer many interesting recommendations.

Frequently Asked Questions About How To Develop A Mental Health App

What instruments are necessary for an AI mental health app?

For the front end, consider something light such as Node.js. As for the back end, AI can work off all the common platforms provided by Google, Microsoft, and Amazon.

Does my mental health solution require any certificates?

Usually, it doesn’t as long as you don’t make bold statements. We heavily recommend cooperating with the professionals to make your service genuinely advanced.

What is the average development time?

Usually, it takes three-to-four months to develop an MVP for the app. Then, another three-to-four months may be necessary for developing a full-scale program.

Our company offers help with mental health app development.

We work with many web platforms to deliver great products in fintech, healthcare, education, and other industries!

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