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How to Develop a Mental Health App From Scratch

Mental health software development

Learn how to create a functionality tailored to the users’ needs while developing an app for mental health organizations

In our modern society, people are increasingly forced to live in continually stressful conditions. Every day the general population is exposed to large flows of information, usually presented in a sensationally alarmist manner, which often negatively affects people, causing anxiety and uncertainty about the future. Add to this malnutrition and bad ecology, and you will understand why almost 20% of our society currently suffers from mental diseases.

However, although many people need professional medical care, not everyone receives it in time. Given this, mental wellness apps become a convenient tool for health monitoring and help reach qualified help from the comfort of a patient's home.

In this post, we'll discuss the peculiarities of mental health software development and share ideas for different types ofmental health apps.

Define your product concept and market niche

The launch of any software product makes sense when all three of the following conditions are met:

  • the product will bring benefits to business

  • the product will be in demand among customers

  • the product is implementable from a technical point of view

The design concept helps find intersection points between the above essentials. It describes the mental health application from the customer's point of view and evaluates the efforts to implement it.

The notion of a product concept
The notion of a product concept

The process of creating concepts is similar to doing puzzles. You need to find the missing pieces by researching users’ behavior and market needs. After you understand what your customers want, you can create a sought-after product.

Here are the questions you might need to answer when examining ideas for your mental health startup:

  • Who is your target audience -  those suffering from specific diseases or broader groups? 

  • What will your app do - motivate and support or help in urgent situations?

  • Why do people need your app - is there no special treatment nearby or do users have no time for in-person consultations?

  • What problems will it solve - lack of information, insufficient motivation, no person to help, and/or no place to go?

  • Why will it be in demand? Target niche users are actively using smartphones and apps to replace offline activities with online features (online shopping, learning, training, etc.)

An example of product concept for a mood control app
An example of product concept for a mood control app

Ten must-have features for a mental health app 

The functionality of mental health applications will vary depending on product specifics and the target audience. Below we will list the features you might want to  implement during self-improvement and behavioral app development.

Secure login

Any app journey starts with registration and account creation. For healthcare applications, data protection is of particular importance, so make sure to encourage users to create a reliable password and ask to confirm their identity via email or phone. You can also implement biometric login by fingerprint, eye retina, or face ID.

Intake questionnaire

A few questions during registration will help you get to know the person better and personalize the user experience. Start with general questions like gender, age, marital status and proceed to more specific ones like mood-swing times and negative-thought triggers. 

Strategic dashboard

This will help track the user's mood, therapy goals, or medication schedule. With the help of data visualization, the dashboard quickly conveys the necessary information to users and helps them better assess their emotional state.

An example of a mood-tracking dashboard, source: Dribbble
An example of a mood-tracking dashboard, source: Dribbble

In-app chat

This will enable direct messaging with therapists and other users in the community. The users can access chat 24/7, so they know they can talk to like-minded people and get support at any time.


With the help of a calendar, users can schedule therapy sessions and arrange medication appointments. They can also receive notifications to remind them about upcoming events.


Achieving even small goals inspires and encourages people to aspire to new achievements. With the help of a task manager, users can set long-term and short-term goals, mark them as completed, or modify the timeline.

Stress tracker

The development of a stress tracker feature in your app will help users take timely measures to overcome negative thoughts and feelings. To estimate the stress level the user should place their finger on the phone’s camera. The app will measure the heart rate and provide further recommendations.

Pleasant activity scheduling

The best way to distract yourself from negative thoughts is to do something pleasant. In the fast pace of life, people do not have enough time for hobbies or relaxation, however, mental health app technologies can fix that by pushing users to plan pleasant activities in advance.

Suggest options for pleasant activities in the app
Suggest options for pleasant activities in the app

In-app rewards

Implement the gamification elements to reward users for their achievements. Cups, avatars, and badges will refresh your mental health app design, add joy to using your software, and help users concentrate on positive thoughts.

File storage

It is convenient to access pictures and documents related to the mental health journey directly in the app. If the user needs to re-read their doctor's prescriptions or share test results, they can quickly reach the necessary file in a designated place.

What technologies should a mental health EHR use in 2023?

To develop a mental health tracker app in 2023, a software company needs to use a combination of advanced technologies to ensure the accuracy and security of data collection, storage, and transmission. Also, EHR developers should incorporate software scalability in order to let the app grow along with the patient data and customer base.

Cloud technologies provide all the necessary tools for digital therapy app development. They allow the use of server spaces on-demand and simplify specific functionality development with the help of artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and the internet of things (IoT).

  • In 2023, AI will be used to help clinicians diagnose patients and provide treatment recommendations. For example, AI can analyze the text of a patient's diary or an audio recording of a consultation with a psychologist. Based on this data, a smart algorithm can make a diagnosis and suggest treatment methods.

  • Blockchain will be used to store patient data securely and to ensure that it is tamper proof. Thanks to an immutable data ledger, medical history can be accurately saved and doctors can quickly access up-to-date information from any hospital anywhere in the world. 

  • The IoT will be used to collect data from sensors and monitor patients' conditions remotely. This will help to provide timely assistance to patients who are outside the healthcare facility. For example, a doctor can text medication advice before an ambulance arrives.

Mental health app development: time & budget

When it comes to mental health app development, time and budget are both of utmost importance. You want to make sure that you allocate enough time for research, designing, development, testing, release, and feedback. Also, your mental health app should comply with HIPAA and other legal regulations so you will need to spend time learning the legal framework of the target region.

Your budget will also dictate the features and functionality of your product. If you have a limited budget, you'll likely have to scale back on some of the more advanced features. However, with careful planning, you can still create a high-quality app that meets the needs of your users.

The optimal pathway for novice mental health software providers is to firstly release a minimum viable product (MVP) and fill it with advanced features later. This will help to save money, reduce time-to-market, and test user demand. When you are confident in the product's success you can attract investors to create a more complex mental health app.

Although there is no way to provide an exact price for medical app development, you could expect an application with basic features to cost around $30000-40000. However, the final amount could reach several hundred thousand dollars or so, depending on the complexity of the project and the number of features.

If you want to get an accurate costing for your project, it is better to book a consultation with healthcare development experts. After studying your idea, they will draw up a development plan and give you a detailed project estimate.

June 30, 2022