Feeling sad or stressed? These five apps can help

While nothing can replace a good therapist, these apps certainly give a good go for significantly less money.


With life happening at such a fast pace, and South Africa being a country that isn’t short of stressors it is unsurprising that more and more people are complaining of depression, stress and anxiety.

Getting help can however be expensive, especially if you aren’t sure what you are going through or where to turn. Fortunately, there are several good apps on the market specifically designed to help people to diagnose, cope with and even start combatting poor mental health. These are the best:


Youper uses artificial intelligence to help users to first identify then track and process their feelings. Using an AI type chatbot, the app will ask users to explain how they are feeling at a specific time, then slowly build an understanding of their moods. The user is then able to ask Youper for help in identifying just how they are feeling and explain it to them. Following the assessment, Youper can suggest a few activities that may help the user to improve the rest of their day.

The app keeps a log that builds up over time, which also helps the user to better understand their moods and their fluctuations to more easily gain an understanding of just what might trigger certain moods and feelings.

Scoring an average review rating of 4.9 stars out of 5 on Google play after 37 000 reviews, this free app with in-app purchases has a resoundingly positive response with most users mentioning that it is surprisingly good at bringing them up, and making them feel better.

7 Cups


The numbers being touted by the creators of this app makes it worth looking into alone. Creators claim that by simply downloading their app you will have immediate access to 180 professional therapists, over 300,000 trained listeners, and a record they say has helped more than 25-million people.

Essentially 7 cups provides users with online therapy and free support to aid with any number of types of “emotional stress” from depression to post-traumatic stress disorder. Chats with the various trained listeners are totally anonymous, which many of the reviewers say has helped them open up in a way they have not felt comfortable doing before. Users can connect with the first available listener, or search through the database to find someone they believe would be best suited to help them with their specific problem.

Rated 4.2 stars out of 5 after almost 16 000 views the success rate of this app seems to be based around which listeners you connect to, with the vast majority being excellent. 7 Cups is free with in app purchases.


Sanvello has taken an extremely scientific approach to mental wellness developing an app that includes tools, activities, reflections, and groups to help users decrease anxiety and increase happiness. With a mental health professional on the development team and several more on the advisory board the app uses a series of tools including cognitive behavioural therapy, to help users to manage their feelings, handle stress, and most importantly reach out for help.

The app’s developers claim that “In a randomized study of 500 adults with mild to moderate anxiety and depression, our tools were shown to decrease their symptoms, with effects that lasted even after participants stopped using the app” and this seems backed up by the 4.4 rating out of 5 that the app has after 12 500 reviews on Google play store.

Most features on the app are free, but the more intensive ones including guided meditations require the premium subscription. There’s also an option where you can find and pay a verified mental health professional to conduct more thorough forms of therapy though they will generally be based in the US and finding a local therapist may be a better solution.


Superbetter is unique in the world of mental health apps in that it deals with mental health in a very light, seemingly fun way, but underneath the outward appearance, there is some very real psychological theory. With gamification becoming a serious industry it would seem that depression and anxiety would be two of the few things that you wouldn’t want to turn into a fun game, but Superbetter seems to imply you would be wrong.

The cutesy, highly motivational tone of the app definitely won’t suit everyone, nor will the focus on both physical as well as emotional health, but if you are the kind of person who loves games and is prepared to try something new this app’s ability to make every one of life’s struggles into a point-scoring quest will probably get you up and better quicker than any app before.

What started as a book by a doctoral student in Berkeley’s performance-studies program, quickly became an online game, whose popularity has now made it an app. With a 4.3 star rating after 5000 downloads that app is now helping depressed and anxious people turn their challenges into games every day. The best part? It’s entirely free with no catches.


Moodpath is a great place to start for people who only suspect they aren’t operating at 100%. The app asks daily questions to assess your mental wellbeing and at the end of two weeks will issue you with what it calls your electronic doctor’s note. This is a document you can take to your doctor, that will help them to accurately diagnose you.

At the same time, the app offers more than 150 videos and psychological exercises to help you better understand, and regulate your mood. As you answer more questions the app will slowly begin to personalise which exercises it recommends thereby helping to keep you in top mental condition.

With a rating of 4.6 after 15 000 reviews, this is another of those apps that has thousands of people singing its praises. While it claims it’s free, most of the features in the app do cost money to use but don’t let the negligible fee dissuade you from becoming healthy if this is the app you need.