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  • #Mobile app development

How to Create a Mental Health App to Track Anxiety and Depression

31 mins read 1841 views
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Key takeaways

  • Find out why it is relevant to start a mental health app in 2022.
  • Discover various types of mental health applications and the most successful examples.
  • Explore the features that are required for your application to suit the demands of the users.
  • Learn more about what aspects to consider when building a mental and emotional health app and gain helpful development tips from our experts.
  • Read how our company can help you develop your own mental wellness app.
  • Figure out how much time it will take to develop such a digital product and determine the approximate cost.

Mental health is an incredibly fragile and priceless thing. But mental health issues and disorders are still stigmatized in the media and everyday life. Because of that, people suffering from depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders become actors who have to wear masks of happiness and light-heartedness.

On top of that, costly traditional psychotherapy, pandemic restrictions, and limits in insurance bundles are those barriers that don’t allow people to obtain the treatment they deserve. Luckily, all hope isn’t gone, and the rapid growth of mental health apps is the silver bullet that can help people with mental issues overcome these challenges. Thus, continue reading this article to learn why it’s relevant to enter this niche despite seemingly high competition and find out key aspects to pay attention to while developing such a product.

Why You Should Build a Mental Health App in 2022

Growing demand

The number of people who struggle with anxiety, stress, or depression is rapidly growing, undoubtedly due to the pandemic. According to the survey, both substance use problems (25% during the pandemic vs. 13% prior to the pandemic) and suicidal thoughts (26% vs. 11%) have significantly grown. Another survey conducted by the KFF organization shows that “during the pandemic, about 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, a share that has been largely consistent, up from one in ten adults who reported these symptoms in 2019.”

The prevalence of anxiety increased significantly in 2020
The prevalence of anxiety increased significantly in 2020. Source: OECD

Because of isolation caused by the pandemic, people cannot always visit a psychologist, which has increased demand for helpful digital solutions and made the number of mental health applications skyrocket, topping over 20,000 mental health applications in the App Store and Play market

Affordability

According to the statistics, the number of U.S. citizens who don’t receive proper treatment has grown rapidly since 2011. In 2019, 24,7% of adults reported an unmet need for treatment. Because not everyone can afford such a luxury, there must be another option. Mental health apps and web platforms provide a more affordable way to monitor mental health and receive assistance, which is why they are so popular right now. Moreover, this factor is another reason for developing a mental illnesses app, giving those in require an efficient yet cost-saving product.

Global spending on mental health apps  
Global spending on mental health and well-being mobile apps. Source: Deloitte

Competition is not a barrier

You may think that the competition is too strong and that the niche is too diverse. However, even the most popular applications have flaws and do not match users’ needs perfectly. According to a Health Informatics Journal survey, users frequently complain about various weaknesses of mental health services. One of the reasons for dissatisfaction is improper data safety. In the case of a crash or data breach, users’ information is lost, which is critical for patients who have been tracking their mental state for a long time.

In turn, those who suffer from panic attacks and require help anytime; complained about the absence of the offline mode. These and many other imperfections that can be found in such apps make the competition not a challenge but a great opportunity. Be sure to consider your competitors’ weaknesses and user reviews during depression app development or any other type of a mental health app, and your product will be a success.

Once you consider all of the shortcomings that exist in a vast number of popular apps, you will be able to create a mental health app based on the deliverables of such an in-depth competitive analysis.

Types of Mental Health Apps

A lack of understanding of the target audience and the app’s purpose is a common factor for applications failure. To avoid such a mistake, we offer to look at the mental health and wellbeing app classification below that will allow you to learn more about the diversity of such apps, unique characteristics, type of users who use them, and explore bright examples.

Types of mental health applications Target audience Main features Examples
Educational (awareness mental health apps) Such apps serve as a knowledge base and are meant to give users information about mental health issues.
  • Online libraries containing informative articles on mental or behavioural health
  • Tests and exercises
  • Mental health courses
DiveThru
General mental health apps Designed for people who require a mental app as a preventative measure, for self-improvement and control of mood patterns.
  • Relaxation exercises
  • Daily meditations
  • Exercises for mental and physical health
Headspace, Calm, What’s Up, Woebot
Mental disorder apps (teletherapy apps) Assist people with serious mental disorders including clinical depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), etc.
  • Journaling that allows keeping track of your mental state on a daily basis
  • Face-to-face consultations with coaches, practitioners, and other specialists
  • Treatment plans
  • Self-therapy
  • Triggers identification to prevent relapses
Recovery Record, NOCD, UCSF PRIME, IMoodJournal, eMoods Bipolar
Chat apps for depression Chat applications for depression allow users to find people with similar problems and obtain consultation from professionals.
  • Chat with community
  • Chat with therapist
  • Learning materials and exercises
7 Cups, Therapeer, Betterhelp
Stress and anxiety tracking apps Created for people who suffer from stress and moderate anxiety.
  • Stress Management
  • Assessment tests
  • Tracker of anxiety level and mood swings.
  • Information and strategies for overcoming anxiety level, panic attacks, and phobias
Anxiety Release, Dare, iBreathe, MindShift CBT
Apps for addiction recovery These applications are developed for recovering from addictions to alcohol, cigarettes, and other drugs.
  • A progress indicator
  • Daily motivation reports
  • “Burning Desire” button
Quit That!, Twenty-Four Hours a Day, Sober Grid
Suicide prevention apps Apps for people with suicidal thoughts.
  • Alarm button
  • Distracting tools such as calming audio or video content files
  • Option of connecting to a local warmline or helpline
  • Suicide tests and questionnaires
Better Stop Suicide, notOK, Suicide Prevention App
Multipurpose mental health apps Apps that can help mentally healthy people and those who are suffering from serious mental illnesses.
  • Tools to form new habits
  • Daily activities
  • Mood tracker
  • Personalized daily goals
Happify, Talkspace, MoodKit, Moodfit
 

Do you want to learn how to create a healthcare app? For further information, please check our guide.

 
Learn more

Top 3 Successful Apps for Tracking Mental Health

So we looked at how applications are classified, their key characteristics, and who uses them in the previous section. Let’s take a glance at some actual examples of apps whose creators picked the proper focus for their product and managed to fill it with highly helpful features that people like.

Better Stop Suicide

Better Stop Suicide is an app for people with suicidal intentions. 
Better Stop Suicide interface

Type of mental health app: Suicide prevention apps

Background: Peter Grange (Co-Founder of Better company) had gone through a difficult divorce and the relocation of his children to another country. After a series of unfortunate events, he was ready to end his life. Fortunately, he didn’t. He found a professional therapist, John Halker (the other Better Co-Founder), who supported him through the dark times. A few years later, Peter and John decided to develop an app to help others prevent suicide. With John’s long-time experience in psychotherapy and Peter’s impressive experience running a digital advertising agency, they developed the Better Stop Suicide app.

Description: Better Stop Suicide is a free app that gives people with suicidal tendencies a chance to press the “stop button” and prevent a fatal outcome. The app offers its users various features, such as life-saving messages, calming audio content, fast access to key phone contacts, better sleep audio, emotional needs check, and a variety of tasks to improve mental health.

Outcome: Three months after the app’s launch, 97% of people who had thought or planned suicide indicated they were pleased they changed their minds and are still alive, thanks to Better Stop Suicide.

Recovery record

Recovery record is an app for recovery from eating disorders 
Recovery record interface

Type: Mental disorder apps

Background: In 2011, a small group of psychologists, technologists, and entrepreneurs decided to patent an eating disorder app. The creators had no idea at this point that their invention would become so successful.

Description: Recovery record is an app designed for people recovering from eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, obsessive eating disorder, and a compulsive eating disorder. The app’s features combine the basics of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and self-monitoring. Users can track their meals, feelings, and actions and get reminders, helpful information, motivational quotes, etc. The team of mental health specialists is always available to help users.

Outcome: Recovery record is considered one of the most popular eating disorder apps. The number of users has already passed one million, while eating disorder treatment specialists have reached 10,000.

Calm

Calm is an app for meditations. 
Calm interface

Type of mental health app: General mental health apps

Background: Michael Acton Smith and Alex Tew were always passionate about mental fitness, and they decided to find Calm in 2012. The app’s mission is to assist people in living more bravely and humanely.

Description: Calm is an app aimed at improving mindfulness, the level of living, and staying calm in difficult situations. Calm offers guided meditations, sleep tales, breathing programs, and calming music to people who are stressed, feel anxious, or have insomnia.

Outcome: Now, Calm has been downloaded by over 100 million people, and this number is growing every day. Calm was named “App of the Year” by Apple in 2017. In the CHT app ratings, Calm is at the top of the world’s happiest apps list. Users of this platform have left more than 1.5 million positive five-star reviews. Sleep Stories were recorded with worldwide stars such as Stephen Fry, Lucy Liu, Idris Elba, and others.

The achievements of these applications look really impressive and inspiring. And, if you want to create a mental health app correctly and make it as popular as the examples above, keep reading about the must-have features you will undoubtedly need while anxiety and depression app development or other types of apps.

Must-have Features for a Mental Wellness Application

This section aims to examine only core features in mental health apps. Mind that each type of such apps is different and requires thorough market research, in-depth understanding of the disorder’s specifics, and analysis of users’ needs when forming a feature set for your product.

User Feature Description
Regular users, patients Onboarding This feature can carefully guide your users through the app’s functionality and the way to use the product.
  Tools for self-monitoring Users may independently track their mental health, stress levels, progress, and so forth. This feature should be added, especially in apps that help with depression.
  Chat Most digital mental health apps allow users to chat, leave audio messages, or have a video call with professional or community members who have a similar problem.
  Emergency feature It is essential to provide patients with a way to contact the doctor or a trusted person in case of an emergency.
  Learning materials Including much educational material in the app is necessary for multiple purposes, including self-assessment, better understanding of the subject matter, ways to recover, etc.
  Community It is very important for people with mental illness to understand that they are not alone in their troubles. So, users should have access to the community where users can discuss their everyday experiences with each other.
  Journaling Many people just cannot physically write down their thoughts and feelings, and an electronic notebook will allow them to do so more easily.
  Notifications & reminders Mental and behavioral health applications must include reminders to take pills or do some tasks beneficial to one’s mental health.
Doctors, licensed coaches Dashboard (both web and mobile versions) A therapist dashboard is required for apps that engage therapists with patients. This feature enables doctors to keep track of their patient’s progress and keep critical information in one spot.
  Chat with the patient The app should have a chat or have video online sessions feature to help therapists better understand the patient’s condition.
 

Important aspects to consider when it comes to functionality implementation of mental wellness application

In most cases, mental wellness applications fail mainly because their creators ignore a number of critical factors while considering functionality or design. So, if you want to make a behavioral mental health app or any other type of mental app, look at some aspects they frequently overlook that eventually lead to user churn and app abandonment.

  1. Credibility and clinical basis

    When creating mental help applications, it’s critical to engage the assistance of mental health professionals to give reliable and helpful material and efficient practices. According to a report published in the Health Informatics Journal, people who used apps designed for tracking anxiety and depression often complained about the absence of the product’s credibility.

    In A Review and Content Analysis of the Depression App Marketplace, researchers analyzed 1,054 applications and found that the well-being app development process often failed to involve health care professionals or academics and didn’t include content aligned with clinical guidelines or behavior change theories or techniques. Based on the study examined above, we can conclude that for your application to prosper in the market, you need to engage certified experts in this field.

  2. Stigma concerns

    Even in the 21st century, people with mental disorders still face stigma from society and even family members. People suffering from mental diseases and those suffering from anxiety or stress face numerous challenges daily, so they don’t need everyone to be informed of their specific mental health problems in social places. Avoid intrusive notifications or logos that scream too much about the app’s direction so that the user won’t simply delete your app out of fear of stigmatization.

  3. Offline mode

    People suffering from mental illnesses may have emergencies, often in places with no Internet connectivity. For example, people suffering from panic attacks or having suicidal intentions may urgently need the app to help them. In the study mentioned earlier, it was noted that many users of mental health apps consider them useless unless they have an offline mode built-in. So it’s vital to opt for an offline-first approach when developing the app so that no functionality will be affected in case of intermittent lack of a network connection.

We analyzed the critical factors that must be considered while building mental health software. Once you implement those must-have features, your application will be popular and useful for consumers.

How to develop a mental health app: key aspects to consider

So, how to develop a mental health app? The mental health app development process isn’t a piece of cake and requires certain key points to be kept in mind if you don’t want to fail. In this section, we will discuss all the important aspects to consider when creating mental health mobile apps.

Steps to develop a mental health app 
Mental health app development stages that require special attention

Defining target audience

You are well aware that there are various types of mental health apps, each targeting and satisfying the needs of different groups of people. Each mental disorder has its peculiarities, which means that the app should be tailored to it correspondingly. Furthermore, there are other factors to consider, such as cultural differences of your TA, age (a small number of applications are designed for kids), user’s background, financial aspects, etc. It’s vital to define the exact audience of your application to satisfy the needs of particular users and motivate them to use your app daily.

Choosing a trusted software vendor: things you need to know

Now that you’ve identified your target audience and overall concept, it’s time to select a vendor with whom you’ll collaborate to develop the app. To produce a safe and compliant app that meets user expectations, mental health apps require a very cautious selection of a software company. Consider the following factors while choosing a vendor:

  1. Expertise 

    The company’s solid portfolio and work on similar to your project cases can demonstrate that the vendor is aware of all the difficulties of developing such solutions and has a well-established strategy for implementing well-being app development.

  2. Knowledge of project-relevant technologies 

    Another critical factor is the scope of technologies in which the software vendor is experienced. The chosen company should have profound expertise in the tech stack you plan to use to start a mental health app.

  3. Compliance 

    Compliance is a top priority for such apps. Thus, make sure that the vendor you have opted for is skilled in developing compliant products, knows all the specifics, and has developers who have undergone compliance training and compliance testing.

  4. Qualification in ensuring the safety of healthcare products 

    The security of these apps is another key priority. Hence, opt for a company with a profound understanding of security measures that must be applied in the course of the development.

Want to develop a mental health app with a trusted software vendor that meets the requirements mentioned above?  

Book a consultation with our specialists, and we’ll discuss your idea.

CONTACT US

Design process

Clever design is always the key to success because it is the “face” of your application. The design should be attractive to the consumer, convenient and clear, so the user will return to the app as frequently as possible. However, in our case, we are engaging with a very sensitive audience. So, UI/UX standards are pretty high when it comes to building a mental and emotional health app.

Look at the numerous mental apps reviews in the Apple Store or Google Play. You’ll see that many people complain about the overloaded interface, UX flaws, or irritating design. Nevertheless, you can avoid these flaws by investing in this stage and approaching your app’s design meticulously. Let’s review key points to consider when approaching UI/UX:

  • Color scheme. Colors are essential in a mental health app design process. So, try to avoid bright, garish colors that may trigger negative feelings, aggravate the user’s condition, etc., and instead opt for calm, preferably cool tones. Purple, for example, is for meditation applications, while green is for stress and anxiety apps.

    Recommendations for depression or mental wellbeing apps design. 
    Wrong vs. right design ideas for mental health application
  • Simple design. Usually, users of such apps prefer a minimalistic interface, not overloaded with information and excessive features.

  • Calm sounds. The sounds within the application should not be harsh or loud; instead, use calming music and sounds of nature.

By following these guidelines, you may design an app that will not trigger anyone’s symptoms and benefit the user.

Technology stack

The technologies you choose will significantly impact the performance, security, and seamless operation of your final mobile app. Thus, let’s look at the table that contains the most popular technologies that should be used for native Android and iOS app development.

Category Android technology stack iOS technology stack
Programming languages Kotlin, Java Swift
IDE Android Studio Xcode
SDK Android SDK Cocoa Touch
Architecture pattern MVVM (Model-View-ViewModel) architecture VIPER
Library Android JetPack components (Room database, Workmanager, Hild), Kotlin Coroutines, Kotlin Flow RxSwift, Alamafire, SocketRocket, Firebase, RealmSwift, ReachabilitySwift
Technologies for UI layer RecyclerView, Android JetPack Navigation UIKit, UiCollectionView
Technologies for network layer Retrofit 2 for network requests GSON for JSON parsing Glide/Picasso for loading images and caching Alamofire / NSURLSession for network requests Codable for JSON parsing Alamofirelmage for loading and caching images
Tools for testing JUnit, Mockito, Robolectric, Esрresso XСTest for unit tests
Integration with wearables Bluetooth Low Energy Bluetooth Low Energy
 

The implementation of a hybrid app is supposed to be more time and cost-efficient than the development of a native one. We recommend the creation of a hybrid mental illness tracking app if you have tight deadlines owing to fierce competition, a small budget, and you need your app to work on both Android and iOS simultaneously. Therefore, we urge that you be aware of the following hybrid app pitfalls:

  • a restricted set of abilities;
  • vulnerabilities in source code;
  • limited access to smartphone hardware.

After analyzing the technology stack required to develop such a product, let’s look at the specifics of the mental health app design process.

Aspects to consider when developing a client-side part of your app

Security

Users of digital therapy apps often share their sensitive information, expecting the highest degree of data security. The proper security can be ensured with the help of the following security measures.

  • complex data encryption;
  • integration with authorized API;
  • high-level cryptographic techniques;
  • the usage of the Android Keystore system;
  • usage of long-term cryptographic standards and algorithms, such as ATS.
  • avoid keeping cryptographic keys locally or in the code;
  • enhancement of possible authentication methods.

There are a few other things you should know about security. If your application includes text and video chats, you can always protect them with a very high degree of security, such as end-to-end encryption or a ready-made solution, like Sendbird. Another way to protect a patient’s personal information is to guarantee that external access to all saved or exchanged data is protected with the help of various authentication methods, such as passwords and usernames, and biometric authentication techniques, like fingerprint (for Android and iOS) or face ID (for iOS), etc.

Performance

When creating a mental health app, keep the app’s performance in the account. You can improve your performance by implementing the following practices:

  • minimize slow rendering using Profile GPU Rendering or GPU Profier’s Visual Output, and optimize the hierarchy of Ul components with Hierarchy Viewer;
  • distribute the workload among Ul and background threads.

Integration with wearables and other applications

Certain types of mental health apps require the integration of wearable devices or other third-party health or fitness apps (such as Google Fit, Samsung Health app that can help with stress tracking, etc.) so that various health indicators can be monitored and analyzed by the therapist or any other specialist that provides assistance for the user. When you aim to enable the integration with certain devices, it’s important to take care of stable communication protocols, security of data transmission, and compliance.

Aspects to consider when developing a server-side part of your app

Pay attention to the backend-related aspects listed below if you want to secure your application, ensure proper scalability and high performance.

Technology stack

The technology stack can differ based on the type of mental health app, your request, the specialists’ expertise, and other factors. We also talked about choosing the right technology stack in a dedicated blog.

The most relevant options for developing such applications are listed below.

  • Programming languages: Java, JavaScript, Python, .Net
  • Frameworks & libraries: depends on the programming language
  • Search engines: Elasticsearch, Solr
  • Web/Application server: depends on the programming language
  • Caching: Redis, Memcached
  • Hosting: AWS, GCP, Microsoft Azure
  • Databases: MySQL, MSSQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, Apache CouchDB
  • Analytics and monitoring: Amazon CloudWatch, vRealize Log Insight, Grafana
  • Source code storage: GitHub, AWS CodeCommit, GitLab
  • Other tools: GitLab CI, TeamCity, GoCD, Jenkins, Terraform
  • Security analysis tools: SonarQube
Do you require expert advice regarding appropriate tech stack for your mental health app? CONTACT US

Security

We have mentioned security measures that we recommend adopting for the security of your product in part on the client-side development of a mental health app. So, let’s explore the leading practices for server-side development.

  • Usage of security measures outlined by OWASP 

    Companies should refer to the OWASP top 10 to avoid various security issues. The OWASP Top 10 is a list of the most common security vulnerabilities. It provides a general opinion on the most serious security threats to the digital product that should be considered in the course of your mental health app’s backend development. At Aimprosoft, our specialists always adhere to OWASP secure coding practices, ensuring our clients provide their users with a highly secure product.

  • Secure hosting 

    When choosing a hosting web package, security should be a top priority. Never neglect a secure hosting that performs frequent backups. Otherwise, you risk losing all of your data, as well as the time and money you invested in the application. To ensure the security of your users’ data, choose a trustworthy, top-rated cloud web hosting provider, such as AWS, A2 Hosting, HostGator, or InMotion.

  • Data encryption in transit and at rest 

    When you want to build your own mental health solution, one of the most efficient and mandatory security precautions is to use SSL data encryption. It stops hackers from accessing sensitive data from your users while it is in transit. In turn, data protection at rest aims to secure inactive data stored on any device or network. Apart from encryption, tokenization, implementation of secure key management, enhancement of access control are one of the most efficient practices to secure your data at rest.

  • Software components updates 

    When you aim to create a medical app, regular software updates should be a top priority since out-of-date software components may jeopardize its safety. Always ensure that all aspects of your applications are up to date, whether it’s the most recent version of the plugin, library, or any other software component, to ensure that there are no open app vulnerabilities. For example, recently, a 0-day vulnerability was discovered in the popular Java logging library log4j (version 2). The vulnerability 0-day is classified as severe with a CVSS score of 10 (the highest score possible).

    When the vulnerability was identified, The Conversation stated that it could significantly damage companies since hackers aimed to “find vulnerable servers and set up machines that can deliver malicious payloads.” To avoid such risky situations, all software components must be audited regularly by an expert such as DevSecOps. Such specialists can conduct the audit, identify the need for the update, and build a regular automated process of updating components.

Scalability

Scalability is especially crucial in the context of mental health applications. Scalability refers to an application’s capacity to manage an increasing number of users and corresponding workload. Thus, to maintain the growth of users and the ability to handle the expansion of the exchanged data, it is necessary to plan this aspect and support horizontal and vertical scalability.

Interoperability

The most difficult challenge in the healthcare industry is interoperability. It refers to the smooth interchange of data between various systems, devices, and applications. When building an app linked with current hospital systems, equipment, or devices, you must ensure that your app will be able to interact with them via APIs securely and seamlessly.

Compliance

It’s highly important to ensure that your application complies with HIPAA. If your application contains information on a patient’s health and condition, it becomes a HIPAA subject by default. HIPAA is a federal law established in the United States in 1996 that ensures the confidentiality of patient records and data.

Learn how to build a HIPAA-compliant chat API and SDK for your application.

 
Learn more

Of course, HIPAA is not the only standard. Different laws are required depending on where you are from or what country’s inhabitants use your app. There are several other examples of regulatory compliance:

  • GDPR — General adjustment on the Protection of Personal Data – a regulation of the European Union.
  • PIPEDA — The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act governs how confidential information is handled in Canada.

Violations of HIPAA or other regulations lead to significant financial losses in the form of fines, as well as a danger to your reputation.

Testing

It is necessary to hire experienced QA engineers to your team because they evaluate whether the product complies with your requirements and development standards, identify weak areas, and help to deliver an errorless product. Testing can greatly minimize the number of bugs and help provide users with a correctly functioning product that can meet their expectations and convert them into loyal ones.

Read about our QA department’s approach to the testing stage.

 
Read more

Monetization strategy

Surely you don’t want to make a mental health app for a charity. However, mental health applications are a sensitive topic, and the choice of the monetization strategy should be approached carefully. So, let’s take a look at a few examples of monetizing such a product:

  • In-app purchases (freemium model) — you can always add paid features to your app. The basic feature set will be free of charge, but if users want to use extra features or have access to certain content, they may buy it through the app.
  • Subscription plans — such applications usually provide a free trial period that is only available for a limited time and then offer its users several paid subscriptions plans so that users can choose the most convenient one for them.
  • Paid apps — the users don’t have access to the app before buying it in the appropriate app store. Such a strategy is mostly relevant for highly popular apps that are well-known among users. Still, users should be provided with a free trial period.
  • In-app ads — of course, you can include advertisements in your app. Nonetheless, you must tread cautiously with this option due to its specialized audience and purpose. This monetization approach shouldn’t be used in a psychiatry disorders app.

Therefore, all of these monetization strategies depend on your app’s type and target audience.

How Much Does it Cost to Make a Mental Health App

It’s nearly impossible to provide a precise cost without discussing your idea’s specifics. The cost and time of mental health app development depend on numerous factors, such as features, product complexity, deadlines, budget, etc. Before developing a full-fledged product, it is preferable to start with the MVP (minimum viable product) version. MVP helps analyze project viability and relevance and before investing in a full-fledged version of the product.

The outcomes of MVP testing and feedback from the target audience help identify whether the project is worth developing further, what list of features should be added, and what should be improved. Thus, let’s consider the list of core features of a mental health test app that should be included in an MVP version of such a product:

  • Sign up
  • Onboarding
  • User profile & settings
  • Self-monitoring tools (mood tracker, journaling, checklists)
  • Daily affirmations
  • Trigger checkers
  • Knowledge base
  • Emergency support
  • Notifications, reminders

The full-fledged version of your mental health app may require more difficult functionality to be added to the MVP features set. Thus, for example, some mental health apps may have a chat with the ability to consult with a doctor, while others may have a function of integration with wearable devices, and so on.

Stages MVP (two platforms) ~ 960 — 1307 hours
Discovery stage (Business Analysis + Technical specification) 40 — 100
UX research + UI 200 — 235
iOS/Android development 120 — 174 for each platform
Backend 200 — 240
QA+testing 80 — 104
CI/CD 100 — 140 for each platform
 

The data presented above is the approximate time necessary to build a mental health app on two platforms. If you choose to deploy your app on one market, such as Google Play, it will take roughly 640 hours to create.

In turn, the cost of creating a mental health app is determined mainly by the location of the software vendor. The cost difference of software services among the following geographic locations is shown in the comparative table below:

Country Average hourly rate MVP (two platforms) ~ 960 — 1307 hours
USA $80 $76 800 — 104 560
Western Europe (Germany) $65 $62 400 — 84 955
UK $70 $67 200 — 91 490
Eastern Europe (Ukraine) $40 $38 400 —52 280
 

According to market statistics, the average UK developer’s hourly rate is two times higher than the ones’ from the majority of Eastern European countries (for example, Ukraine). Thus, if you want to start a depression app or any other type of mental health application with a software development company in the United States, the cost may reach up to $104,560. On the contrary, the app’s creation with a software vendor from Ukraine, for instance, that will have the same expertise and understanding of the healthcare niche, can be $52,280.

How We Can Help

We have been developing a wide range of healthcare products for more than 10 years which allowed us to gain a solid portfolio, precise understanding of the needs of the businesses, and challenges of medical software implementation. We implement well-being solutions for all popular platforms, including native apps for iOS and Android, cross-platform and hybrid medical apps, web platforms, Liferay-based patient portals, hospital management systems built with the capabilities of the Alfresco platform, EHR and CRM systems, and many others.

Background. We managed to apply the obtained knowledge and expertise to implement the product for one of our clients from Italy who came with the request to assist with the implementation of two well-being mobile apps for iOS and Android platforms and the doctor’s web-based portal.

Solution. The developed apps help users monitor their health indicators, such as heart rate, stress degree, blood pressure, and others. Our developers made sure that the apps could be easily connected to various wearables that gather, process, display, and store all incoming data related to the person’s health. Besides, users can share the obtained measurements seamlessly with their doctors. Overall, our team integrated the app with a number of health platforms such as Google Fit, Samsung Digital Health, Hint, Walgreens, and others, ensuring the developed products are full-fledged health monitoring solutions.

The solutions’ functionality also encompasses several self-monitoring features, namely a journal that they could use to write about stress triggers, their mood and condition, a tracker to monitor anxious thoughts, and others. The developers also implemented smart charts that help users easily view and analyze all the measurements taken with the help of wearable devices. Apart from that, our team implemented an activity calendar, reminders, configured in-app purchases, and a measurement sharing feature.

Outcome. Our fruitful collaboration with the client resulted in a successful launch and deployment of the product on both stores. Currently, the iOS-based app has received more than 17,000 positive reviews on the App Store, while the Android-based one has approximately 5,000 positive reviews with a 4,7 average review score. The users praise the product for its convenience, minimalistic design, and useful functionality.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that the market of mental health mobile apps has a bright future. Every year, more people begin to pay attention to their mental well-being and search for accessible and efficient solutions that would allow them to obtain the help they deserve. App for tracking mental health turned out to be an affordable tool that can be used to enable better mental health. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you want to start a depression app or any other type of mental health app but simply lack an experienced software vendor who will breathe life into your idea.

FAQ

Can I get a good profit from a mental health app?

Of course, you can! Thanks to the rapidly growing number of users and extreme popularity of such types of apps, it’s possible than ever before to profit from such a product. For example, in 2019, Calm, one of the most popular meditation apps, earned $150 million. However, to achieve such a goal, you need a trusted software vendor with experience in healthcare development, in-depth business analysis, proper monetization strategy, and a bit of courage.

 
Should I develop my app in collaboration with medical experts?

According to the survey published in the Health Informatics Journal, people who used anti-depression applications and other mental apps stated that the reason which made them abandon the downloaded apps was that the products weren’t credible. As a result, we may say that in order for your product to succeed in the market, you must collaborate with clinical experts on the course of your product development.

 
Why must a mental health care app be compliant?

Compliance with the healthcare industry’s regulations is a top priority since an inability to protect patients’ personal information can result in data breaches, information loss, etc., and potential legal ramifications in the form of significant fines.

 

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