If you have searched for a NHS approved mental health app for your employee you may have found the information you are looking for isn’t necessarily all in one place. Currently there is not a comprehensive list of NHS approved mental health apps. Instead there are recommended apps for various difficulties in the relevant section of the NHS website.
It is important to note that the apps that are recommended by the NHS are evaluated using two standards -OCHRA and DTAC. This means that they have meet standards set by NHS England.
ORCHA is a provider of evaluations and reviews and is committing to providing an objective and independent assessment of health and medical apps. They assess functionality, personalisation, privacy, integration, professional input and more to advise on whether an app should be considered by NHS staff to support patients.
The Digital Technology Assessment Criteria for health and social care (DTAC) is a set of guideliens based on legislation and best practices. It is the national baseline criteria for digital health technologies entering and already used in the NHS and social care and is used to assess digital health suppliers, including those working mental health.
Each framework empowers staff to ensure they are using the right mental health platform to support mental wellbeing of patients. By logging in with an NHS email address they are able to find free wellbeing apps that can be used for self help. Many are backed up by clinical expertise in psychological therapies, and whilst some are paid for, there are many free wellbeing apps.
These apps help with everything from sleep to anxiety, depression to suicidal thoughts, stress to self harm, and use a range of techniques such as meditation, cognitive behavioural therapy, self help support and more to help people improve their mental health in a way that is structured supportive, and helps them stay safe.
Here are a few of the apps that can be found on NHS mental health apps lists, so you can be confident they are right to support your employees with their mental health.
📝 All articles on Wysa are reviewed by mental healthcare professionals before publication, who check that the content is thorough and accurate, and references the latest evidence-based research. Learn more.
Everyday mental health app – Wysa
Wysa is used by millions of people from all walks of life to support their mental health and wellbeing. Research-backed, it uses a number of types of psychological therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and meditation exercises to support you with depression, reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep and a whole range of other mental health and wellness needs. It is available to young people from the age of 13 and adults, and is already integrated into some NHS trusts and recommended by NHS staff in these areas. Wysa is an emotionally intelligent chatbot that uses AI to understand and react to the emotions and worries you share and the app helps you develop techniques to cope with challenges.
Wysa has a specific employer solution for businesses to offer employees to support them with their challenges, which also provides data and insight so that HR teams can understand what issues are facing employees and how they can best support them.
Mindfulness wellbeing app – Be Mindful
Be Mindful is a mental health platform and app offering a clinical grade mindfulness course that has been proven to significantly reduce stress, build resilience, anxiety, and depression. Through videos and interactive courses the scientifically backed app in mindfulness provides useful information and skills that supports everything from sleep to stress. The course is £40 to access, although comes with a money back guarantee. It is often commissioned by the NHS to help patients who are struggling and academic studies report a strong success rate.
Enterprises can partner with Be Mindful for quick and easy enrolment, health outcome reports, engagement reports, qualitative feedback and professional support.
All around mental and physical health – Holly Health
Holly Health is an app designed for self help for both physical health and mental wellbeing. It is a free access healthy habits app that provides 24/7 text based coaching. It is a science backed app that uses a range of psychological therapies including cognitive behavioural therapy, nudge theory, acceptance and commitment therapy, and gaming design. The fun layout makes it easier to adopt habits and take action as it suggests activities, and means it’s great for young people. It’s one of the wellbeing apps that is suggested by NHS staff for support on all sorts of health behaviour changes such as eating healthy, practicing meditation, and reducing stress.
Positive Mental Training – Feeling Good
The Feeling Good app offers Positive Mental Training audio programmes. The audio files are based on scientific research and aim to build resilience and positive emotions and feelings to help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. They say it’s based on Olympic Sport Psychology and Positive Mental Training (PosMT) combines a range of proven therapeutic techniques of such as mindfulness, relaxation, visualisation, meditation, positive priming and reappraisal, within a positive psychology framework to proactively improve mood and wellbeing. It is used by 2000 nhs staff to treat 80,000 patients.
Organisations can use Feeling Good for employee health and wellbeing, and they have a number of notable partners.
Wellbeing app for young people – Feeling Good Teens
Wellbeing apps are ideal for teens and young people who are digital natives and access their phone for everything from social life to education – and now mental health. Feeling Good Teens is a free app that echoes the Feeling Good app for adults. Designed for 10-15 year olds it uses audio tracks to help build mental strength, each ranging from 3 minutes to 11 minutes. Although it doesn’t describe itself as such, it is essentially based around mindfulness and meditation providing support for issues such as coping with exam stress and ways to build resilience for young people. The tracks focus on deep breathing, calming the mind and muscle relaxation. Like the adult version it is free access.
Mental health for new parents – Canopie
New parents face all sorts of challenges, from struggling to sleep to find connection with the baby, balancing new roles with former roles, and the stress and anxiety that can come with raising a new human being. The app is designed to support new parents with mental health based on clinically-effective, personalised programs. Through activities that can be done in 12 minutes a day to support pregnancy and postpartum caregivers. The tools vary in length so can be fitted in around busy schedules, and are built on extensive research with health professionals and is based on over fifty studies exploring the most effective perinatal mental health treatments. It offers free access with additional in app purchases.
To help employers support parents Canopie is also available to employers. Given that 20% of new mothers leave the workforce, it’s a good investment.
Mental health and sleep – Sleepio
Sleepio is a six week clinically proven program to proactively improve and treat sleep problems and insomnia, which can really affect mental health. It starts with a questionnaire to identify specific sleep problems, followed by a personalised programme aligned to goals and needs. Poor sleep can be the result of stress, anxiety or depression, and the app helps understand where your particular challenges are. The mental health app then uses cognitive behavioural techniques to help support with sleep and you can track and monitor your sleep and its impact on physical health and mental health. It’s free access in some areas.
Support for domestic abuse – Bright Sky
Bright Sky is a free access app that provides mental health and wellbeing support, as well as useful information and practical support for anyone experiencing domestic abuse. Bright Sky helps both people in relationships and those around them to spot the signs of abuse, be empowered in knowing how to respond to any potential red flags, and offers guidance and advice on helping an individual find a safe route to support, alongside resources to specialist services and help. The app is available to use in English, Urdu, Punjabi, Polish and Welsh and to stay safe encourages people to only download it if they know their phone isn’t being tracked or monitored.
Hestia, the charity behind Bright Sky run the Everyone’s Business campaign to help managers, colleagues and HR teams to support people experiencing domestic abuse.
Mental health and suicide prevention – Talk Life
When self harm and suicidal thoughts happen it is essential to get support. Psychological therapies can help, but also beneficial is peer to peer support. Talk Life is an online community accessed for free via the app where people can share the ups and the downs of life without any judgement or fear. The app is recommended by many NHS trusts via ORCHA as a way of supporting people when anxiety and stress gets too much and more severe. As a suicide prevention resource it is essentially a peer to peer chat network in which users get support whatever they are going through– which can be reassuring, but also means that the advice received is not always backed up by psychological therapies. But sometimes someone going through the same thing as you is what is needed.
Family and friends – Combined Minds
Sometimes family and friends would benefit from mental health apps. Combined Minds is an app developed for teenage mental health charity stem4 by Dr. Nihara Krause, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, to help families and friends support young people with their mental health. Designed for those close to someone with a diagnosed mental health condition, it offers explainers, resources, information and guidance to help those who may themselves be feeling stress and anxiety to support the young people they love and care for. It’s free and rated well my parents and carers.
There are hundreds of mental health apps available through ORCHA, and what NHS staff in your area recommend will be based on the rating and approval that ORCHA and DTAC provide. This means you can be sure you’re getting an evidence based or science backed app that can support with your mental health needs, whatever they may be.
Photo by Angelo Moleele