10 Virtual Therapy and Mental Health Apps to Cope With Coronavirus Stress
You can take care of your mind, even if you can't leave the house.
The coronavirus situation in the US has escalated quickly in the past few days, leaving many people on edge. On March 15, the CDC began recommending that people practice social distancing—in other words, avoiding close contact with others. A day later, President Donald Trump made an announcement advising people to limit their socializing to small groups of no more than 10 people to help prevent the spread of the virus.
With most of us limited to confined spaces, and some of us isolated from our social circles, staying mentally healthy is more important than ever. "Most people can't go see a therapist in person right now, so anything that helps you get out those feelings and thoughts is so beneficial," says psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD, Chief Learning Officer of online-therapy.com. "While it's not a complete replacement for therapy, it's definitely a positive alternative."
Dr. Lombardo explains that because stress manifests itself in every aspect of our lives, and because the pandemic is creating so much of that stress, finding any kind of resource to help you through this time is beneficial. If you can't see your therapist IRL, or can't afford a weekly therapy session, don't worry. There are plenty of apps that can help you work through the stress and uncertainty of this time—whether it's through interaction with a therapist or an app dedicated to mindfulness.
Youper is an artificial intelligence (AI) "emotional health assistant" that allows you to have text message conversations with a bot which provides feedback to help monitor and improve your mental health. According to the app's website, Youper (which is totally free, by the way) can also help with developing more personalized treatments for conditions like depression and anxiety. It's a great solution for instant, at-the-ready communication. (Free; available on iOS and Android)
If you struggle with depression or anxiety, the current climate can be particularly challenging. The Moodpath app, which is geared towards helping those conditions in particular, includes features like a digital journal, mood tracker, and plenty of audio files and articles focused on building positivity and self confidence. Moodpath is free, so it can be a great supplement to your existing therapy routine. (Free; available on iOS and Android)
Even before social distancing, the Talkspace app connected people to therapists virtually through messaging and video calls. While using the app is not free, therapy plans start at $65 per week—which is less expensive than a lot of other therapy plans. The app will help you find a therapist that fits your needs and is available 24/7, so you can message during any particularly challenging episode. (Free to download with in-app purchases; available on iOS and Android)
Sometimes you just need someone—or something—to vent to. Woebot is an AI service that lets you message a bot, which responds with encouraging, thought-provoking feedback throughout the conversation. The app, which was designed by a group of psychologists, uses cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to interact and respond with its users. Woebot is totally free, and can be helpful in a pinch when you're feeling particularly stressed. (Free; available on iOS and Android)
The Bloom app is the perfect combination of everything you want in a therapy app. It features daily video therapy sessions, cognitive behavioral therapy exercises, and provides feedback based on your mood tracker. The app offers a free three-day trial, and costs $60 per year afterwards. If you're interested in starting therapy but don't know where to begin, this app is a great stepping stone. (Free to download with in-app purchases; available on iOS)
Formerly known as Pacifica, Sanvello is another combination app with a daily mood tracker, coping resources, and a community support forum. Unlike some other apps, Sanvello accepts some insurance plans, so you can get instant help for a discounted price. Plans start at $9 monthly, but its basic feature has plenty of resources for free. (Free to download with in-app purchases; available on iOS and Android)
7. Better Help
You don't need to spend hours searching for the right therapist. Better Help connects you with a licensed therapist for you, you and your partner, or your child. You have the option of text messaging, calling, or video chatting your counselor, so you can choose the method that best fits your lifestyle. Better Help costs $40-$70 a week depending on your plan. (Free to download with in-app purchases; available on iOS and Android)
8. I am
Positive affirmations are a great way to help change that internal voice and switch your negative thoughts to positive ones. The "I am" app sends you notifications with positive affirmations throughout the day to help foster those kinds of thoughts. You can set as many reminders as you like, anytime throughout the day. The app features a three-day free trial, with subscriptions starting at $2.99 per month afterwards. (Free to download with in-app purchases; available on iOS and Android)
9. Ten Percent Happier
Ten Percent Happier provides guided meditations for reducing stress, cultivating healthy habits, and more, and can be a great addition to your typical therapy routine. The app costs $99.99 per year after a seven-day free trial. But in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ten Percent Happier is providing a free, live guided meditation at 3 pm EST every weekday, which will focus on finding peace during this time of uncertainty. The company is also offering any healthcare worker a free subscription to their app, as a thank you for their services. (Free with in-app purchases; available on iOS and Android)
Sometimes just defining how we feel is the first step to feeling better. That's where Sayana steps in. This app, which is focused on self-discovery, can help you track your mood and articulate your feelings so that you can start the healing process even quicker. Sayana costs $4 a week, and includes coping mechanisms for stress and community forums for working through problems. (Free with in-app purchases; available on iOS)
The information in this story is accurate as of press time. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it's possible that some data have changed since publication. While Health is trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDC, WHO, and their local public health department as resources.
To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter.