The pandemic has led to more people seeking out online services, mental health services included.
Hence, I decided to review some of the top mental health apps on App Store and Google Play to compare their features, and which one worked best for me.
To start, I typed in “therapy” in the App Store search bar and downloaded the top 3 based on ratings which were Replika, Wysa and MindDoc. Wysa was also in the top 3 for Google Play, so I downloaded the other two, InnerHour and 7Cups.
All the apps I compared are free to download, but of course, the professional services in them have to be paid for.
My Expectations For These Apps
Before I used them, I set out several expectations for them based on a mental health app I used in college called My SSP (Student Support Program) and in-person counselling sessions I’ve attended.
From my experience with My SSP, it is expected that chatting with a counsellor on an app may not be as effective as in-person appointments because you’ll be reassigned a new one every time you start a chat, so you have to always reiterate your problems every time you start a chat.
Since I’m not paying for any of these apps, I’m also expecting that I won’t be able to chat with certified therapists or counsellors, but with volunteer listeners instead.
From The App Store
Replika is basically an “AI companion who cares”, and its chatbot comes with an avatar to give people a virtual session with “no judgement, drama or social anxiety involved”.
You can build what you want your “friend” to look like and “grow” with them by chatting or doing activities together like writing a song or discussing strategies to improve your health habits.
The AI sounded very human and relatable, so it took off that feeling of talking to a robot about your problems initially… until I actually started talking about my problems.
If you want to call the AI or have them take over a different role like a romantic partner or mentor, it’ll cost you:
- RM35.90 per month
- RM219.90 per year
- RM249.90 for a lifetime use
While it’s an interesting concept, it’s definitely not my cup of tea if I had any pressing issues that I need to solve immediately.
To be fair though, it doesn’t specify that it’s an app meant only for people with mental health issues, and seeing the level of its responses to issues thus far, I would actually not recommend you use it for such purposes.
MindDoc collects your data for about 2 weeks before they give you an assessment of your emotional health.
Every day, you’ll be notified in the morning, afternoon and evening to answer a few questions and select your mood for the day (it only takes 30 seconds each time).
You’ll receive an assessment of your emotional health after 2 weeks, and the process repeats so you can monitor your emotional health progress. You can also access a few mental health articles and podcasts on the app.
To get a hold of their extra features like smart statistics, bi-weekly health assessments, psychological exercises etc., it’ll cost you:
- RM94.90 per quarter
MindDoc doesn’t have therapists you can speak to, so it’s better for those who simply want to assess and track their mental health.
Like Replika, Wysa is another AI bot that you can chat with to deal with depression, stress, anxiety, sleep, loss, and more.
You can actually choose which mental health topic you’d like to solve or discuss with Wysa.
The topic I wanted to deal with was sleep, and that topic alone had a few sections like sleep stories, sleep sounds, sleep habit pack, deep sleep, coping with nightmares and more.
To speak to an actual therapist, you can choose from these price options:
- RM29.90/session for 12 sessions
- RM49.97/session for 4 sessions
- RM74.90/session for 1 session
Wysa may not sound as realistic as Replika’s AI bot, but from my experience, they are more effective in suggesting a variety of solutions for a problem.
Similar to MindDoc, InnerHour asks you questions on the issue you want to solve to help you 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 deal with your problems, like with Wysa.
But similarly, the AI chatting isn’t very realistic and is only able to provide you with solutions via the app’s existing resources.
However, their free resources are more limited than MindDoc’s. Hence, you’ll have to pay these prices to access their more exclusive features.
Things like personalised plans for your needs, activities for you to feel better, and more come at these prices:
If you prefer having a support group chat instead of a one-on-one with a certified listener or counsellor, 7Cups may be a good choice for you.
It’s like a Reddit for mental health, whereby you get to join different forums and threads on the issue that you’re dealing with.
You can also speak with their AI chatbot, Noni, to briefly chat about your issue. Again, it works very similarly to Wysa’s and InnerHour’s AI chatbots.
For a more personalised plan to solve your issue, you’ll have to pay these prices to access that feature:
By Malaysians, For Malaysians
As mentioned earlier, PlusVibes isn’t a top rated app, but I wanted to highlight it since it’s a Malaysian one for mental health.
Their team of real people isn’t active 24/7 yet, which would’ve been preferable since I’m usually too busy during the day with work to set a time for a counselling session.
Through a few questions, the app gauges how well you’re handling different parts of your life currently, and puts the data in a pie chart.
Like Wysa, you can also pick your topic of choice to talk about before entering a chat, which I assume is to connect you with the most suitable counsellor.
Some other helpful features in this app were the articles on different mental health topics as well as some relaxation activities like face yoga, peaceful soundtracks etc.
The best thing about this app is all its features are free for their users, making it the most accessible app thus far.
Out of all these, I would actually prefer PlusVibes because of how accessible they are. I usually gravitate towards counselling in mental health services, which is why this is the best fit for me.
While I believe that in-person counselling sessions are still better, I’d prefer using apps when I need to solve a simple problem immediately and not wait till it’s time for my appointment to talk about it.
However, everyone has their preferences for a mental health service that suits their needs best, hence the different platforms like forums, AI bots, mental health trackers, etc. Hopefully, this list can serve as a starting guide that’ll help you find an app to match your needs best.
- You can learn more about Replika here, Wysa here, PlusVibes here, 7Cups here, InnerHour here and MindDoc here.
- You can read more about other listicles we’ve written about here.