Uncovering a Comprehensive Guide on Mental Health App Development

Key Takeaways:

  1. At the beginning of 2023, young US adults between the ages of 18 to 34 years reported higher usage and appreciation of meditation applications, while 37 percent of the adults didn’t use these apps.
  2. The North American mental health apps market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13.2 percent from 2024 to 2030 forecasted timeframe. Isolation and loneliness during the pandemic led to a steady rise in mental health app usage and its development.
  3. Mental health apps enhance accessibility, reduce stigma, are cost-effective, and convenient to use for therapists and patients.
  4. Popular types of mental health apps are teletherapy, meditation apps, self-development apps, mental disorders apps, addiction recovery apps, and mood trackers.
  5. Dashboard, treatment plans, mood tracker, self-monitoring, notifications, support communities, emergency support, and video/audio calling are some of the must-have features for mental health app development.
  6. The average cost of mental health app development ranges between $40,000 to 100,000.

Mental health apps allow you to connect with mental health therapists irrespective of your geographical location. But here’s the thing, not all mental health apps are beneficial and easy to use. That’s why mental health app development is important to create applications that are easy to use and have solid functions.

In this article, we will be talking about the process of mental health app development. We will also be covering the types and cost of mental health app development. You’ll understand what makes a mental health app tick and which features can attract potential users. So, let’s jump to the article right away.

Table of Contents:

  1. Mental Health Statistics 2024
  2. An Overview of the Mental Health App Market
  3. Importance of Mental Health Applications
  4. Popular Types of Mental Health Apps
  5. Monetization Strategies for Mental Health Applications
  6. Pivotal Features for Mental Health App Development
  7. Choosing Tech Stack for Mental Health App Development
  8. Mental Health App Development Process
  9. Cost of Mental Health App Development

At a Glance: Mental Health Statistics 2024

  1. In 2022, the prevalence of adult mental illness in the USA was reported to be 19.86 percent, which is equivalent to nearly 50 million Americans. (Source: Mental Health America)
  2. State wise New Jersey ranks number one in mental illness and Utah ranks the least. (Source: Mental Health America)
  3. Nearly 20 percent of young people and children between the ages 3 to 17 in the USA have a mental, developmental, emotional, or behavioral disorder, and suicidal behaviors among high school students increased by 40 percent in the decade before 2019, and accelerated in the post-Covid era. (Source: NIH)
  4. A report by the CDC revealed that 15 percent of the kids in the USA have recently received treatment for mental health disorders in 2021.
  5. A survey revealed that nearly six in 10 US children with ADHD also have at least one mental, behavioral, or emotional condition such as depression or anxiety. (Source: CDC)
  6. Several health conditions first appear in young adults, with 50 percent of them beginning by the age of 14 years and 75 percent by the age of 24 years. (Source: NAMI)
  7. At the beginning of 2023, young US adults between the ages of 18 to 34 years reported higher usage and appreciation of meditation applications, while 37 percent of the adults didn’t use these apps and were not interested in doing so in the future. (Source: Statista)
  8. Gen Z tends to report poor mental health, spiritual health, and social health compared to other generations. (Source: McKinsey)

An Overview of the Mental Health App Market

The global mental health apps market size was predicted to reach $6.2 billion in 2023 and is estimated to surge at a CAGR of 15.2 percent from 2024 to 2030 timeframe.

The North American mental health apps market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13.2 percent from 2024 to 2030 forecasted timeframe.

Source: Grand View Research

Key Market Drivers: Isolation and loneliness during the pandemic led to a steady rise in mental health app usage and its development. Furthermore, burnout caused due to excessive workload, along with FOMO caused due to excessive usage of social media platforms is boosting the market growth. Therapists are looking for alternative means to reach a wider audience and are leveraging digital means to connect with their patients during the lockdown phase. These aspects are accelerating the mental health app market growth and its development.

What’s Hampering Market Conditions? Incompetent applications and unnecessary features can result in uninstallation of mental health apps. Additionally, apps with slow functions and bug issues, along with expensive apps can slow down the market growth.

Importance of Mental Health Applications

The statistics mentioned earlier in the article point out the growing prevalence of mental health issues in the country. Mental health app development is an essential step to counter these issues and aid people in living a healthy lifestyle.

Key advantages of mental health applications are:

  1. Accessibility: Mental health applications offer easily accessible resources to people who may not have access to traditional mental health services due to aspects such as cost, stigma, or location. These applications can be downloaded and used from anywhere, anytime, making mental health support readily available.
  2. Convenience: Users can seek mental health services at any time and anywhere, thus making them convenient. Features of mental health apps such as CBT techniques, mood tracking, and virtual therapy sessions make these apps a go-to service for mental disorders.
  3. Stigma Reduction: There’s a constant fear of judgment from others when it comes to mental disorders. These apps offer privacy and discreet options, which empower individuals to seek mental health support without the fear of judgment and social opinions.
  4. Self-Management: Mental health apps such as meditation apps, self-development apps, and mood trackers, can be managed by oneself without interference from a therapist. However, users can seek therapy if they’re unable to manage their mood swings daily.
  5. Cost-Effective: Online counseling and therapy sessions cut down travel costs for patients, hence making mental health apps a cost-effective option for those who can’t afford offline sessions. Additionally, there are several apps available on Play Store that are free to use.
  6. Less Burden on Therapists: With mental health applications, therapists have the power to control their routine and not burn themselves out with numerous appointments in a day. Therapists can manage appointments, documentation work, patient monitoring, and medications with a mental health application.

Popular Types of Mental Health Apps

Mental health apps are available for all types of cognitive requirements because our minds may not need a therapist to vent out all the time. Sometimes, all we need is to just sit back and relax; to detox from the outside world for a day or two before jumping in the race again.

Here is a list of popularly used mental health apps:

1. Teletherapy

Teletherapy refers to online therapy via tablets, desktops, and smartphones. The only requirement for patients and therapists is a stable network connection. Here, counselors offer only virtual sessions via video or audio calls.

Since teletherapy is restricted to online sessions, it opens doors for remote mental health care and allows therapists to connect with patients at any time during the day. Mental health seekers can easily book an appointment and attend sessions from the comfort of their homes. Now, another benefit offered by teletherapy is that therapists can assess their patients by checking whether patients have completed their daily goals or not. In case of incompletion, therapists can send reminders for the same.

2. Meditation Apps

Our daily activities demand extreme focus, commitment, and high energy levels. With growing work pressure, and family and relationship issues, people often face anxiety, panic attacks, and at times BP problems. Meditation apps can help to put all of this behind us and lead us to live a peaceful life.

Applications such as Calm, Headspace, The Mindfulness App, and many more are designed to offer deep meditation sessions with timers, and daily goals. Those who wish to take a break from the hassles of everyday life can simply download any meditation app and relax with Zen music.

3. Addiction Recovery App

Substance and alcohol use can be scary because it ruins lives. It ignites fatal diseases such as cancer.

Did you know that 46.8 million Americans (aged 12 and older) have battled a substance use disorder? (Source: NSDUH) The rate at which drug usage is rising amongst teenagers and young adults is distressing.

Addiction recovery apps are being used to counter the issue of substance and alcohol usage. These applications encompass functions such as support groups, progress trackers, educational resources, emergency contact details, gratitude journals, and goals. These functions help addicts to turn their lives around and take the route to recovery. Examples: Nomo, SoberTool, Recovery Box, and more.

4. Mental Disorders App

Mental disorders can be genetic or acquired over time. Some of the notable ones are PTSD, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, Schizophrenia, eating disorders, anxiety, and so on.

Mental disorder apps such as MindDoc, Happify, Headspace, PTSD Coach, and more are well crafted to suit the needs of patients suffering from mental disorders. These apps include functions such as journaling, relaxing music, connecting with a therapist, etc.

5. Eating Disorder Recovery App

The thought of having a perfect body has been embedded in our minds since our teen years, thus compelling us to go on a diet, which at times may not be necessary (not if you’re suffering from a high cholesterol issue or are obese).

Around 30 million Americans live with an eating disorder. Binge eating is also considered another form of eating disorder. Now, these eating disorders result in significant weight loss or gain, which isn’t good for overall health. Eating disorder apps can help alleviate this issue, examples are MindShift CBT, Recovery Record: Eating Disorder Management, and Cognitive Diary CBT Self-Help.

6. Anxiety and Depression Apps

Depression leads to suicidal thoughts and actions. It’s the tipping point for anyone who’s had enough.

Those who feel and are aware that they’re in a depressive state and facing anxiety can seek mental help via anxiety and depression apps. These apps include features such as emergency contact numbers, one-on-one therapies, medications, and resources to cure depressive states. App examples: Daylio, Happify, BetterHelp, etc.

7. Self-Development Apps

Who wouldn’t like to restart their lives and shape themselves into a better person? Self-development apps help individuals acquire their highest mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical states.

Any age group can access these apps and practice self-development techniques. Examples of these apps are Habitica, MyFitnessPal, LifeRPG, etc.

8. Mood Tracker

Mood tracker apps allow individuals to monitor essential health measurements such as anger levels, fatigue, happiness quotient, bad days, good days, and so on. It tracks emotional levels and allows individuals to learn about their trigger points and work on them.

Examples of mood trackers are Moodnotes, MoodCast, MoodFit, etc.

Monetization Strategies for Mental Health Applications

Here are key ways in which a mobile health app development company can earn through mental health applications:

  1. Subscription: Here, the users have to pay a monthly or annual fee to access the features of the app.
  2. Freemium: In this case, a basic app is offered for free, but users have to pay an amount to access additional features and services of the application.
  3. In-App Ads: Apps are loaded with ads that allow developers to earn money from them.
  4. Paid Premium Model: This type of monetization strategy is used if the app is customized as per the taste of the therapists.

So, these were four key monetization models that app development companies can use to profit from mental health apps.

Pivotal Features for Mental Health App Development

Now, let’s have a look at the features used in the mental health app development process. These features are subject to change as per the requirements of users and mental health therapists.

1. Sign-in Process

Every application needs a sign-in process to maintain user authentication. Stringent sign-in processes such as biometrics and two or three-layered password protection ensure privacy and security of the ePHI. Data captured during the sign-in includes demographics, contact details, mental health issues, past medical history, and so on.

2. Dashboard

The dashboard offers a bird’s eye view of the entire mental health application. It helps to track progress and quantify mental health conditions.

For a patient, a dashboard encompasses elements such as a calendar, profile, medication, goals, habit tracker, and all the essential features needed to break free from mental issues.

For a therapist, a dashboard includes a calendar, appointment details, patient profile, treatment and diagnosis conducted, and communication features to name a few.

3. Appointment Scheduling

The online appointment scheduling feature works best for both virtual and physical therapy sessions. It is a hassle-free way for patients to book appointment slots at any time during the day.

This feature allows therapists to manage bookings from their end by providing available slots in real time. It also allows them to handle their routine effectively without falling prey to burnout.

4. Notifications

Push notifications are essential to ascertain that users are staying on track of their mental health.

Developers can design the app to send periodical notifications regarding upcoming appointments, goal completions, habits, medications (if any), new education sources, and upcoming support community activities. Push notifications prevent no-shows and help patients to improve their mental well-being at a faster pace.

5. Video and Audio Calling

Video and audio calling features are relevant in the context of mental health apps and teletherapy apps. The primary focus must be to offer a stutter-free calling experience to users. Make use of HIPAA-compliant video conferencing tools such as Zoom to ensure a seamless calling experience for users.

6. Messaging

The messaging feature allows therapists and patients to go live with each other, share voice notes, and receive instant feedback from therapists. Interactive designs like chatbots can go a long way for meditation and self-monitoring applications.

7. Emergency Support

Emergency support can include contact details of family and close friends who can rush to the scene. Offer an emergency button that sends out automatic SOS messages to the contacts. Induction of FAQs on what to do during emergencies can also work. An emergency message system can work if there’s human support at the other end 24/7.

8. Educational Resources

Insightful resources on mental health disorders and how to tackle them can engage patients, and compel them to use these tips to improve themselves. This is a great addition to self-development applications, addiction recovery apps, and meditation apps. Provide content pieces in video, audio, and text format, as it promotes accessibility and inclusivity.

9. Support Communities

Sharing thoughts and feelings helps to cope with mental health issues. Support communities or groups offer a podium for people to share their feelings without the fear of being judged. Mental health apps can include links or Facebook groups that a user can join virtually.

The app itself can include various groups that people can join for mental support.

10. Digital Diary

Journaling has always been a safe way to vent out emotions and is recommended by therapists. The digital diary feature allows individuals to write their thoughts and free themselves from emotional baggage. Design a diary that’s not too colorful, a simple digital diary with uplifting quotes can do wonders.

11. AI and ML

Artificial intelligence can come in handy to study patient data, analyze it, and offer personalized recommendations. Based on AI analysis, therapists can plan out an effective treatment for the patients.

AI-driven chatbots can help to answer queries and offer support in the absence of a therapist. AI avatars can also be used to talk and share thoughts, plus to track moods and aid in self-development.

12. Self-Monitoring

A self-monitoring feature may include a mood tracker, habit tracker, goal monitoring, digital diaries, and more.

Self-monitoring allows users to understand where they are heading, how much work is done, and what needs to be improved. Based on this analysis a future roadmap can be developed.

13. Treatment Plans

Treatment plans usually encompass medications (for those seeking psychiatric help), mental exercises, and therapies. Through this feature, a therapist can plan out personal treatment plans for patients based on AI recommendations.

Choosing Tech Stack for Mental Health App Development

Every mental health app developer must have a profound understanding of the technologies involved in the development process. Sound knowledge of the tech stack is essential for developing a great mental health app.

Here is a list of necessary tech stacks for mental health app development.

Front-end Technologies

  1. Language: JavaScript, HTML, CSS
  2. Design Tools: Figma, Sketch, Adobe XD
  3. Libraries and Frameworks: React, Vue.js, Angular

Back-end Development

  1. Programming Language: JavaScript, Python, Ruby
  2. Frameworks: Express.js, Django, Ruby on Rails
  3. Database Management: MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB
  4. Server Infrastructure: AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure

Mental Health App Development Process

1. Identify the Target Audience and the Market

To get the best out of a mental health application it is paramount to identify the target audience. Who will be the primary users of this application? Now, depending on the type of mental health application, the target audience can vary. For instance, teletherapy apps will be used by both patients and therapists and meditation apps will be used only by individuals who just wish to relax and not seek therapy.

Next, understand the market scenarios – trends and patterns in mental health applications, who are your competitors? What the target audience needs? What are their pain points? These questions will help to add features that are inclined to your audience.

2. Prototyping and Design Stage

Prototype design is a basic version of the app and it helps to know whether it works for your audience or not. A prototype helps to identify unwanted features and functionalities, and design an app that’s suitable for users.

The UX/UI design stage involves crafting a mental health mobile application that’s accessible and inclusive. The design stage determines the overall look and feel of an application. Colors, fonts, graphics, interactive elements, and navigation are key facets that decide whether the app is capable of attracting potential users or not.

3. Ensuring Compliance

Compliance is a necessary factor when it comes to healthcare applications because it protects ePHI (Protected Health Information) that is stored in the applications. App compliance assures safe healthcare data transfer to patients and between providers.

Not all mental health applications require compliance because apps meant for meditation, mood tracking, and self-development do not necessarily collect ePHI. However, teletherapy apps, mental disorder apps, and addiction recovery apps gather vital ePHI, so these have to be made compliant. To make the app compliant, standards such as HIPAA and HITRUST are incorporated during the mental health app development process.

4. App Coding

In this stage, the tech stack mentioned in the article is used for coding the mental health application.

The front-end team crafts the design of the application and sends it over to the back-end team, where the coding takes place. The development team uses popular and easy tools to develop the entire application – JavaScript, AWS, Ruby on Rails, etc.

If you’re facing difficulties during the mental health app development process or don’t have time to do it yourself, then it is best to go for a healthcare mobile app development partner. They’ll not only develop the application for you but also help to maintain the application as well.

5. Testing Phase

The mental health app development process is incomplete without the testing phase. Testing allows developers to spot potential bugs and incompetency in the mental health application.

Testing is carried out both manually and automatically. If there are any discrepancies in an app then the QA team sends the app back to the team for a re-do. Further, if the app development team is using agile then testing is conducted at every major development stage.

6. App Release and Maintenance

The favorite part of the mental health app development is its release in the market. Once Apple Store and Google Play store criteria are met the apps are released on the respective platforms.

Now, maintenance of the application is a vital aspect of the development cycle because it ensures that the app stays up-to-date and functions smoothly.

What is the Cost of Mental Health App Development?

The budget estimate begins soon after determining the objectives and target audience of the mental health app. The cost of mental health app development depends on a variety of factors such as

  1. Complexity of the app and its features
  2. Type of team hired to do the job – outsource, in-house, or freelance
  3. Time required to wrap up the development cycle
  4. Third-party integrations to be used in the app
  5. Mobile app platforms and development model used
  6. Application maintenance and support post-launch

Based on the above aspects, the average cost of mental health app development ranges between $40,000 to 100,000.

If you wish to get a precise budget estimate then book a consultation call with our experts today!