How to Develop a Mental Health App?

Mental health is an umbrella term under which lies a whole pantheon of related and unrelated problems. And to address these varying problems, behavioral applications are usually created keeping a single ailment in mind — they are custom built for a particular type of mental health issue.

As a result, the mobile application market is full of various types of mental health-related applications.

Even though the pandemic appears to be over and we are gaining some normalcy back, the mental health application trend is far from being over. Like Amazon and Ubereats, these applications are here to stay because they bring expert help to the patient instead of the other way around. And in this article, we will explore how to develop a behavioral health application and see what benefits it can have for you.

The Covid Mental Health Crisis

Lockdowns, layoffs, deaths, isolation, and the general pandemonium caused by this unprecedented catastrophe left adults and young adults stunned.

While the physical health implications of the covid pandemic were direct, the mental health problems posed by it were diagnosed a little late.

According to the findings by Kaiser Family Foundation, 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorders during the pandemic. A KFF Health Tracking Poll from July 2020 found that many adults reported severe negative impacts of the covid pandemic on their mental health. Problems such as insomnia and eating disorders were reported in 36% and 32% of the people, respectively. Increased alcohol consumption was also noticed in 12% of the people due to the stress of the covid pandemic.

Young adults (age 18–24) also suffered the behavioral consequences of the pandemic. Due to schools and colleges being shut down, young adults found themselves lost. A staggering 56% of the surveyed young adults reported that they were suffering from anxiety or depressive disorders.

Substance use and suicidal thoughts were also reported by 25% and 26% of young adults.

Being cooped up in their houses, marinating in their anxiety, people began to crack. Adding on to this problem was the fact that they couldn’t go out to a therapist to seek help due to the lockdowns. As a result, people began turning towards these mental health applications.

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What are the Different Types of Mental Health Apps?

There are various types of mental health apps available on the market.

1. General Mental Health Apps

General mental health applications focus on the daily mental wellness of people. These applications provide guided meditations, helpful and uplifting daily quotes, light exercise and relaxation guides, etc.

2. Education Apps

These mental health apps educate people about various mental ailments and how to diagnose them. They can be a great asset to the person suffering from a mental health issue or someone around them who wants to help.

3. Specific Mental Health Apps

These applications are developed with a particular mental health problem in mind. Such applications help people suffering from anxiety, schizophrenia, heightened sleep disorders, substance use, alcoholism, depression, etc.

4. Mental Self-improvement apps

These applications focus on helping people adopt better habits. These apps address good sleeping habits, eating habits, meditation, anger management, and other such issues.

5. Treatment Monitoring Apps

These applications help people suffering from mental health problems by reminding them when their medications are due, what they need to eat, etc. These applications work as users’ assistants, helping them stick to their treatment.

What Makes a Great Mental Health Application?

Mobile application development is not an easy undertaking. It consists of a considerable time and money investment and requires a lot of thought. And without a trusted mobile app development partner by your side, things can get messy.

But you need to give extra care to every step of your mobile app development journey if you are looking to develop a mental health application. So the first thing we need to discuss here is…

What are the Dos and Don’ts of Mental Health Application Development?

Do’s

Focus on your UI/UX: While it is a crucial part of any app development, it is essential for apps like Calm or MoodKit. Since people using your app have a mental condition, you need to develop an app design and UI that soothes them. From your color choice to small things as tap-sounds, you need to take extra care while you are designing your app.

Believe in simplicity: Keep in mind that your users have anxiety and depressive disorders, and giving them an overly complicated app is a recipe for destruction. Your app should be well organized, requiring the minimum amount of effort to use.

Be feature-rich: If you address a particular mental health problem, make sure you provide a healthy number of ways to tackle it to your users.

Believe in the right balance: While being feature-rich is a good thing for an app, it is not a good idea to cram every feature you can think of in there. It makes your app run less smoothly, and also, it overwhelms your users.

Be visual: Reading can be taxing on the eyes for some, especially if your users are having an anxiety episode or are depressed. So use videos, images, dynamic charts, and screens to get your point across. Be expressive and be on point.

Don’ts

Use anxiety-inducing color schemes or UI/UX designs: While everybody likes bright, flashy colors and quick animations, it is the last thing a person suffering from anxiety wants. Designing a mental health app is a very delicate process, and enough care must be put into it.

Put a paywall at every turn: While making money is vital for a business to keep providing good features and support to the customers, it is also important that you don’t overdo it. Keeping all the great features behind a paywall will frustrate your users.

Ask for more than you should: Being greedy and asking for huge sums to use your apps will be very counterproductive. One of the key selling points of mental health apps is that they are cheaper than traditional therapies. So don’t lose that.

Be tied down to a single OS: The smartphone demographic is widely distributed between Android and iOS users. And if you develop an app only for one of these operating systems, you are leaving a lot of people behind. That is a lot of potential customers you are missing out on.

Stick to a formula: The name of the game is innovation and finding new ways to add value to your application. So periodically release new features, new offerings, and other things to keep your users interested.

Exciting Features to Add to your Mental Health Application

Much like every other mobile application, your mental health app should have some universal features like:

Manage Profile

Social Login

Various Filters

Contact Info

Dashboard

Such features are a must-have for any application and should be included in your mental health application as well.

There are some more unique and exciting features that you should consider adding to your mental health app. A list of some such features has been given below. But keep in mind that this list can change based on the type of mental health application you create.

Reminders and Notifications

When you are flustered and mentally not at a hundred percent, it gets downright impossible to carry out day-to-day things that seem so trivial to the rest and require zero thought. Things like remembering when to take medications, when the next doctor’s appointment is, and when you’re supposed to take your meal become a challenge for people with mental health troubles. And that is why this feature is a crucial part of any mental health app. They can also be used to send positive quotes to let your users know that they are not alone.

Self-monitoring

The self-monitoring feature allows your users to keep track of their symptoms and recovery. For instance, recovering alcoholics count days of their sobriety like their lives depend on it. In a fashion, it reaffirms their faith in their strength to beat their demons. And providing a self-monitoring feature helps them because they can see their progress. Yes, they have been sober for only a month. But that in itself is a significant milestone and prevents them from having a relapse.

Digital Support Group

Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Alzheimer’s Association help people rise above their mental health problems. The idea is not to cure somebody of their afflictions but to let them know that they are not alone in their struggle and people around them love and support them. So, bringing such a vital aspect of people’s mental health recovery to a digital platform is a feature that should be a priority for every mental health app.

On-demand Therapists

This feature helps both therapists and patients. There are various ways you can implement this feature. You can make your application a marketplace where therapists and patients find each other. Or you can partner with therapists and let users choose from among them. Either way, patients can benefit if they have access to on-demand therapists on your app.

Video and Text Chatting

Video and text chatting is also a good idea for a mental health application. Most young adults these days prefer video calls and text chats over voice calls. So, allow your patients to contact their therapists or people in their support groups via video calls and text messages.

Expert Guides

For apps that focus on self-improvement, guided sessions are crucial. Things like breathing exercises, meditation, yoga that helps with stress and anxiety, etc., require help from experts who can guide users through the basics. Guides can be audio or video-based.

How to Develop a Mental Health Application?

Every mobile application is different and thus, requires a custom mobile app development approach. But some boxes need to be ticked for every mobile app development process.

Given below is a four-step guide to creating a mental health application.

Research

The first thing you must do is conduct in-depth research. Depending on the type of mental health app you create, your research will take you to different places. So if you are an expert on a subject, for instance, if you work with people with anxiety, you might want to create an application that focuses majorly on helping people with anxiety and your research will take you in a different direction.

On the other hand, if you create a general mental health app like Calm, your research will take you to a different place.

So, before doing anything, you need to decide which type of app you want to create. Once that’s done, you need to focus on the following,

Market Research

Competitor Research

Trend Analysis

Consumer Interviews

Potential Demographic Research

Mobile App Development Agencies

Based on your research, you will then move on to the next stage.

Planning

Using your research, you now need to come up with a plan. This stage will require you to make a solid business plan that will be beneficial for your investors and you and work for your target demographic. You need to take extra care while in this stage because you can’t overcommit to your investors. At the same time, you also need to keep a margin for errors or delays.

During this stage, you need to focus on the following:

Budget Planning

Find Best Mental Health App Developers

Create Your App Wireframe

Land on Your Features

Development Time

Right Technology Stack

Design and Development

During this stage, you will need to work closely with your app developer. As we discussed earlier, behavioral health mobile applications need to be designed with great care. You need to keep the type of your mental health app in mind while designing your app.

The development phase can be a little tough, and you will need to monitor your project’s progress using tools like JIRA. Most companies these days believe in working closely with their customers throughout the development phase and even beyond. So make sure you pick a company that is open about its development and keeps you in the loop.

Also, expect delays. Even the best laid out plans sometimes fall short. So, don’t get frustrated if your project is running a little late. Also, anticipating delays and an extended development time, you should always have a surplus of budget.

Testing and Support

Development is not the end of the story. Once your app is done, it needs to be tested rigorously. Bugs need to be fixed. Things have to be tweaked. And sometimes, testing reveals significant problems with the platform that requires a considerable amount of rework. But if you have picked a good and respectable mobile app development agency, it won’t be a problem.

Once your app has been released, it needs constant maintenance and support. Furthermore, post-release plans are equally vital for the longevity of your mental health application.

Why Choose Matellio as your Mental Health App Developer?

Nowadays, people aren’t as ignorant and dismissive of mental health problems as they used to be. With the tireless efforts of dedicated spokespersons, mental wellbeing has become the need of the hour and people are trying to help those who suffer from these ailments.

Companies are now trying to create a better, stress-free working environment for their employees. Young adults are actively speaking in favor of mental health and are advocating seismic reforms in society that help people in feeling less alienated and more a part of the community.

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And we at Matellio can proudly claim that we are a part of the solution. In our own company, over the course of the pandemic, we ran many campaigns directed towards helping our engineers with their mental health. From care packages to bi-weekly check-ins and an open-door policy, Matellio has worked hard to ensure the mental and physical well-being of its employees.

So when we talk about mental health app development, Matellio not only brings decades of experience, top-of-the-line tools, and expert developers but also our willingness and drive to help people live their best lives.

If you are looking for a mental health mobile app developer, contact us today to book a consultation.

Founder & Board Member at Matellio — Technology enthusiast with enterprise solution design & development expertise