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Best mental health apps

In partnership with Dr Hamish Black

Find the best mental health apps for your iPhone or android

Young man with glasses and wearing a blue sweater in his dining room using a mental health app on his phone
Young man with glasses and wearing a blue sweater in his dining room using a mental health app on his phone

With one in six Australians experiencing depression, anxiety or both, it’s no surprise that mental health apps have surged in popularity in recent years. Here’s what you need to know before you start downloading. 

At nib, we consider ourselves your health partner, working with the experts to give you tools to live your healthiest life yet. So, we spoke to nib Medical Advisor Dr Hamish Black to get the inside word on mental health apps – and which ones could be the right option for you.  

What are mental health apps? 

Mental health apps are a type of digital technology, which you can use via your smartphone or other digital device, that aim to help you support your mental wellbeing.  

Common features of these apps include meditation and mindfulness training, coaching for challenging negative thoughts, tips for better sleep, and also forums and support groups where users can connect with other people.  

While mental health apps are popular with Australians, Hamish says they aren’t yet part of mainstream medical treatment.  

However, Hamish notes that these apps did get “a big kick along” during the COVID-19 pandemic and patients reported benefits of using them. 

“I’ve heard feedback that the apps have helped to maintain motivation for changed behaviours and that they also provide daily tips.” 

How can apps help your mental health? 

Research on the effectiveness of apps for treating mental health disorders is still growing. Some early studies have found that apps can help reduce depressive symptoms and provided the best results for those with milder symptoms.  

Hamish says one of the major benefits of mental health apps is convenience; they’re available 24/7 and often free or low cost.  

“For some patients who are reticent to see a psychologist face to face or are geographically isolated, apps can be a good option,” Hamish says.  

“Also, some of the platforms maintain good forums and support groups, which is helpful, especially in the addictions fields (like alcohol).” 

A young woman wearing a red tank top and glasses with pink hair looking at her iPhone

Will mental health apps be the end of therapy? 

While some app features – symptom trackers, reminders and goal-setting – can certainly complement therapy, using a mental health app alone isn’t a quick-fix solution. Building a trusted relationship with a therapist is a far more effective way to improve your mental health.   

“I think this is the case for anyone with anything more than a minor mental health illness,” Hamish says. “Especially those needing mental health medication or a mental healthcare plan

“Apps can provide some immediate benefit, including education, but major change for most mental illness takes months.” 

How do I search for digital mental health help? 

When you’re exploring digital tools to help improve your mental health, Hamish recommends visiting Head to Health, which has some excellent online programs, including apps. 

“I especially encourage this while awaiting your first psychology visit to better educate yourself and therefore get more out of the appointment.” 

Top seven mental health apps 

Finding an app that works best for you is a personal choice, but here are five popular options that you might want to try. 

  1. 1

    SilverCloud is free for nib members via the nib App. SilverCloudprovides access to a comprehensive range personalised content and tools to help reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

  2. 2

    Hello Sunday Morning is an Aussie-made app and an nib foundation partner. Hello Sunday Morning is all about showing Aussies how to get a better understanding of their drinking habits and learn to love hangover-free Sundays, while being part of a supportive online community. 

  3. 3

    Headspace is a subscription-based app (with student and family pricing) but does include a free trial. Headspace offers a range of programs, including meditations, workouts, sleep training and inspiring videos.  

  4. 4

    Calm is a subscription-based app but does offers some free resources. Calm’s goal is to improve users’ health, happiness, mental fitness and sleep through relaxing music, movement and meditation. 

  5. 5

    Breathe, Think Do with Sesame is especially for kids. It’s a playful app that helps kids develop skills such as problem-solving, self-control, planning and persistence. It features fun Sesame Street animations for kids to enjoy as they learn. 

  6. 6

    Black Dog’s Sleep Ninja app is a free, evidence based smartphone app shown to be effective in helping young people with sleep problems. Sleep Ninja teaches strategies across six ‘training sessions’ to develop healthy sleep habits and improve sleep quality.

  7. 7

    Batyr’s OurHerd app is a mental health storytelling app that empowers young people to confidently and safely share stories of lived experience and amplifies youth voices to create positive change.

Please note: The tips throughout this article serve as broad information and should not replace any advice you have been given by your medical practitioner.  

Dr Hamish Black

Dr Hamish Black

In partnership with

Dr Hamish Black

Dr Hamish Black has been a medical practitioner for more than 25 years. In addition to his role as nib group medical advisor, he still spends two days a week practising as a GP. He has spent many years working in emergency departments and in rural Australia, including a stint with the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Hamish also loves karaoke and dancing (though not that well at either, he says!), with Play that Funky Music by Wild Cherry being his karaoke favourite.