Adolescence years can be a challenging time for the whole family. At this unique, formative stage of their lives, teenagers must develop the healthy self-care habits that will enable them to thrive during adulthood. Fortunately, there are lots of great tools to help young people identify and tackle problems and form good mental health practices. Here are some of the best smartphone apps available for kids and young adults to prioritize their mental health.
Mood trackers like Daylio are great for helping to identify trends in mood and personal habits and see how these might be linked. Daylio’s emoji-based approach allows your teenager to record their mood in seconds, without needing to write any words at all. It also lets them track all kinds of activities and habits, choosing from categories such as food, chores, and sleep.
A detailed Stats view allows you to review and reflect on progress and identify any positive or negative trends. Daylio can help your teen to explore and develop positive habits. And Daylio Premium even has a PIN lock feature, allowing them to keep their innermost thoughts secure. Learn even more about the app in this overview of how to use Daylio.
Download: Daylio for iOS | Android (Free, subscription available)
Woebot is a free app that puts the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in your pocket. Developed by leading psychologists and clinicians, Woebot acts as a coach, using AI to chat with you like a real conversation.
Check in each day to get step-by-step guidance on topics including managing stress and emotions and achieving your goals. The “bot therapist” approach is perfect for many teens, as it provides anonymous support on their phones for issues they may be struggling to articulate. You can be assured that they’re getting credible advice in return.
Download: Woebot for iOS | Android (Free)
Happify is another app that can help users to reduce stress and negative thoughts. It does this through bite-sized quizzes, games, and activities that aim to help develop optimistic thought patterns and boost self-esteem.
Identify your goals, and the app will present you with games and meditations to suit. For example, a hot air balloon challenge will find you tapping any balloon bearing positive words and avoiding negatives. You can absorb the lessons while distracting your mind from unhelpful thoughts.
Although not designed specifically for teens, Happify is a tool they may appreciate and continue using right through adulthood. You can also explore more calming mobile games to play.
Download: Happify for iOS | Android (Free, subscription available)
One of the most popular apps for mindfulness and meditation, the extensive Calm Kids section means you may have already introduced your children to Calm. Teenagers and young adults can also learn the principles of slowing down, reducing stress, and improving mindfulness using Calm.
If your teen is overwhelmed by exams, feeling anxious, or finding it tough to sleep, they can browse the extensive catalog for a standalone meditation—or even a whole course—to suit. There are soundscapes, sleep stories, and breathing exercises, as well. You’ll find plenty in Calm to suit the whole family’s needs, including lots that you can practice together.
Download: Calm for iOS | Android (Subscription required, free trial available)
Headspace is an excellent resource to help your whole family learn mindfulness and meditation skills. Here’s how to make the most of Headspace as an adult. Teens and young adults, meanwhile, will find a lot to love about Headspace, not least its quirky, accessible interface.
There’s a huge amount of material for meditation, sleep, and mindful movement, including a great Beginning Meditation section and a Student Essentials program. Star Wars fans will love the activities in the Find Your Force section, where they can Breathe With Yoda or practice Galactic Gratitude.
Sports fans can choose Power of Mind, Premier League footballer Raheem Sterling’s brilliant series on positive thinking and self-care. And if you ever find yourself near the end of your tether caring for your adolescents, Headspace provides a great bank of resources for mindful parenting, including forgiveness and self-compassion meditations.
Download: Headspace for iOS | Android (Subscription required, free trial available)
6. Smiling Mind
Smiling Mind is a free mindfulness meditation app designed by psychologists and educators to provide mindfulness and meditation tools for everyone. It can be of particular use to parents seeking an app to help teach their children meditation skills for coping with life’s challenges.
The Youth section in Smiling Mind is designed for young people aged between 13–18 years old. Meditations are grouped by age range, with a Sleep for Teens category, and sections for Sport, Study, and Back to School. The program for kids 16–18 years old is thorough and extensive, containing everything you would want your child to know about their own emotions and mind-body connection.
Download: Smiling Mind for iOS | Android (Free)
Sanvello is a self-care app that lets you track your mood and achieve wellness goals through a tailored personal plan of CBT-based exercises and mindful meditations. The Sanvello library is vast, and the peer support community has millions of members, so there’s plenty of support for whatever issues you and your teen might face.
US citizens may have Sanvello Therapy included within their health insurance plans, which might also provide access to in-person coaches. Anyone can subscribe to Sanvello Premium for full access to all resources.
Download: Sanvello for iOS | Android (Free, subscription available)
If you’re seeking therapy to help your teen, Talkspace is an app-based service that can help. It leads you through a series of questions and matches you with a licensed therapist who can give professional support through private messaging or live sessions.
Messaging therapy may be a good solution for your teenager, as it removes any stigma and commitment involved in sitting down face-to-face with a therapist. Talkspace complies with all legal requirements regarding parental consent for therapy. It’s available through medical insurance policies, so check the Talkspace website for full details.
Download: Talkspace for iOS | Android (Subscription required)
9. Teen Counseling
Teen Counseling is part of BetterHelp, the world’s largest therapy service. It provides teens with access to professional therapy via text, phone, and video conferencing services. The counselors can help your child to deal with issues like anxiety, stress, and low self-esteem. They are also trained to deal with bullying, eating disorders, and relationship problems.
Teen Counseling is not available through health insurance or Medicare, but check the Teen Counseling website for the latest information about costs and availability.
Download: Teen Counseling for iOS | Android (Free)
Youper uses CBT techniques to help teens or anyone uncomfortable with attending traditional therapy sessions along a self-guided therapy journey. Through Youper, you can learn to analyze thoughts and spot negative spirals, then find better ways of thinking. It’s also a mood and symptom tracker and offers a thought diary and goal-setting function.
Youper has over three million users and boasts a host of awards and five-star reviews. A study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found Youper to be an effective mobile application for treating symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Download: Youper for iOS | Android (Free, subscription available)
11. Calm Harm
Calm Harm is an award-winning app that has helped over two million users to learn a “safety net” of helpful thoughts and behaviors that can help them resist the urge to self-harm. Users can choose activities from categories including Comfort, Distract, and Express Yourself and learn breathing techniques to help them be more mindful.
This award-winning tool, developed by clinical psychologists for the teenage mental health charity stem4, offers a free, anonymous, and safe source of support for users aged 13 and over.
Download: Calm Harm for iOS | Android (Free)
Tech Provides Effective Mental Health Support for Teenagers and Young Adults
All of these apps have helped numerous people of all age groups access mental health support and build a more resilient mindset for life’s challenges. If your child is struggling to open up and talk, a resource they can access via their phone or tablet might be a perfect solution.
It is important to note that for urgent help or intervention, you should seek assistance from the medical and support services available in your country. Consult the HelpGuide directory for local information.