The pandemic has resulted in an increasing number of people looking for online services, including mental health services.
This is why I decided to check out some of the best mental health apps on the App Store and Google Play to compare their features, and which one works best for me.
At the beginning I entered “Therapy” in the search bar of the App Store and downloaded the top 3 based on the ratings Replika, Wysa and MindDoc. Wysa was also in the top 3 for Google Play so I downloaded the other two, InnerHour and 7Cups.
I also downloaded PlusVibes even though it wasn’t in the top 3 just because it’s a Malaysian app and can connect users with Malaysian mental health associations, volunteer listeners and activists.
All of the apps I’ve compared are free to download, but of course the professional services that come with them have to be paid for.
My expectations of these apps
Before using them, I had various expectations of them based on a mental health app I used in college called My SSP (Student Support Program) and face-to-face counseling sessions that I attended.
Based on my experience with My SSP, it is expected that chatting with an advisor in an app may not be as effective as in-person appointments, as you will be assigned a new one every time you start a chat. So you have to repeat your problems over and over again every time you start a chat.
Since I don’t pay for any of these apps, I also expect that I won’t be able to chat with certified therapists or counselors, but with volunteer listeners.
From the App Store
Replika is basically an “AI Companion Who Cares,” and its chatbot includes an avatar that offers people a virtual session with no “judgment, drama, or social anxiety”.
You can customize what you want your “friend” to look like and “grow” with them by chatting or engaging in activities such as writing a song or discussing strategies for improving your health habits.
The AI sounded very human and relatable, so the feeling of talking to a robot about your problems was initially decreased … until I actually started talking about my problems.
- Make my “friend” and browse our activities
- Not the therapy session I had envisioned
If you want to call the AI or have them take on a different role as a romantic partner or mentor, it will cost you:
- 35.90 RM per month
- RM219.90 per year
- RM249.90 for lifetime use
While it’s an interesting concept, if I have urgent issues that I need to resolve immediately, it is definitely not my business.
To be fair, it doesn’t state that it’s an app that is only intended for people with mental health problems. Given the answers to problems so far, I wouldn’t really recommend that you use them for such purposes.
It’s better for people who want more from a companion when they are feeling lonely or bored. If you still want to test the app, you can download it here from the App Store and here from Google Play.
MindDoc will collect your data for approximately 2 weeks before receiving an assessment of your emotional health.
Every day you will be notified in the morning, afternoon and evening to answer some questions and choose your mood for the day (it only takes 30 seconds each).
After 2 weeks you will receive an assessment of your emotional health. The process is repeated so you can monitor your emotional health progress. You can also access some mental health articles and podcasts on the app.
Tracking my emotional health (left) and the resources provided (right) / Photo credit: MindDoc
To get a handle on additional features like smart statistics, bi-weekly health assessments, psychological exercises, etc., it will cost you:
- RM 31.63 / month
- 94.90 RM per quarter
MindDoc has no therapists to talk to. Hence, it is better for those who just want to assess and track their sanity.
You can download MindDoc here in the App Store and Google Play here.
Like Replika, Wysa is another AI bot that you can chat with to deal with depression, stress, anxiety, sleep, loss, and a lot more.
You can actually choose which mental health issue to resolve or discuss with Wysa.
- Pick what specifically you’d like to talk about (and yes, I named myself Kelly).
- An excerpt from my conversation with Wysa
The topic I wanted to address was sleep, and that topic alone had a few sections like sleep stories, sleep sounds, sleep habits, deep sleep, dealing with nightmares and more.
To speak to an actual therapist, you can choose from the following pricing options:
- 29.90 RM / session for 12 sessions
- RM49.97 / session for 4 sessions
- RM74.90 / session for 1 session
Wysa may not sound as realistic as Replica’s AI bot, but in my experience they are more effective at suggesting a variety of solutions to a problem.
You can download Wysa from the App Store here and Google Play here.
4. Inner Hour
Similar to MindDoc, InnerHour asks you questions about the problem you want to solve so you can track your progress.
They also have courses, activities, and articles that you can access to find more solutions to your problems. You can also talk to an AI bot called Allie to solve your problems, such as Wysa.
Similarly, AI chatting isn’t very realistic and can only provide you with solutions through the app’s existing resources.
- Plans, courses and trackers for your problems
- Chat with your bot (left) and your target tracker (right)
However, your free resources are more limited than MindDoc’s. Hence, you have to pay these prices to access the more exclusive features.
Things like personalized plans for your needs, activities to make you feel better, and more come at the following prices:
- 9.90 RM / month
- 24.90 RM / quarter
- RM 99.90 / year
You can download InnerHour from the AppStore here and Google Play here.
5. 7 cups
If you’d rather have a support group chat than a one-on-one conversation with a certified listener or advisor, 7Cups might be a good choice for you.
It’s like a mental health Reddit where you can join a variety of forums and topics on whatever topic you’re dealing with.
Some discussion groups in 7Cups / Image Credit: 7Cups
You can also speak to their AI chatbot Noni to briefly discuss your problem. Again, it works very similarly to the AI chatbots from Wysa and InnerHour.
For a more customized plan to solve your problem, you’ll need to pay the following prices to access this feature:
- 12.99 RM / month
- RM92.99 / year
- RM399.99 / lifetime
You can download 7Cups from the AppStore here and Google Play here.
By Malaysians, for Malaysians
As mentioned earlier, PlusVibes isn’t a top notch app, but I wanted to highlight it as it is a Malaysian mental health app.
Your real-life team is not yet active 24/7, which would have been preferable as I am usually too busy with work during the day to schedule a counseling session.
Based on a few questions, the app measures how well you are currently dealing with different parts of your life and puts the data in a pie chart.
As with Wysa, you can also choose the topic of your choice that you want to talk about before entering a chat. I am assuming that you should be put in touch with the most appropriate advisor.
My Wheel of Life (left) and topics to choose from before speaking to someone (right) / Photo credit: PlusVibes
Some other helpful features in this app were the articles on various mental health topics as well as some relaxation activities like facial yoga, peaceful soundtracks, etc.
The best thing about this app is that all of its features are free for its users. This makes it the most accessible app to date.
You can download PlusVibes from the App Store here and Google Play here.
– // –
Of all of these, I’d actually prefer PlusVibes because they are accessible. I usually tend to seek counseling in mental health services, which is why this suits me best.
While I think face-to-face consultations are still better, I would prefer to use apps when I need to solve a simple problem right away and don’t have to wait for my appointment to talk about it.
However, everyone has their preferences for a mental health service that best suits their needs, hence the different platforms such as forums, AI bots, mental health trackers, etc. Hopefully this list can serve as a jump-start guide to help you find one App to best suit your needs.
- You can find out more about Replica here, Wysa here, PlusVibes here, 7Cups here, InnerHour here and MindDoc here.
- For more information on other lists we’ve written about here, click here.
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