Top Apps that Support Positive Mental Health for Children and Teens

By AASLMay 30, 2019

AASL has tried out many available mental health apps and we have compiled a list of our twenty favorite low-cost (or free) apps that support positive mental health for children and teens.

            Mental health goes beyond the absence of mental illness. Positive mental health is essential to function and be successful in everyday life. For children, teens, and young adults this means handling emotions and adapting to everyday challenges to succeed in school and extra-curricular activities, peer and adult interactions, and necessary activities of daily living (self-care). The following apps help to promote positive mental health and well being, and are broken down by cost, age range, and descriptions below, with accompanying links to the Apple iTunes store. Discover an app or two that can help your child, or yourself, take steps toward fostering positive mental health today and moving forward!

1. App: Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame 

Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/breathe-think-do-with-sesame/id721853597?mt=8

Cost: Free

Age Range: 2-5 years old

Description: This is a great resource app to help teach your child self-regulation skills, including breathing strategies, problem solving ideas, tools to gain self-control, and develop task persistence by helping a “Sesame Street monster friend” stay calm and work through everyday challenges.

2. App: Smiling Mind

Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/smiling-mind/id560442518?mt=8

Cost: Free

Age Range: 7-18 years old

Description: This is a mindfulness and meditation app developed by educational specialists and psychologists that has fantastic resources for a wide range of age groups, including exercises, tools, and activities to address various daily challenges and emotional obstacles. One particular star attribute of this app is that there are no extra “in-app” purchases needed; all of the content is available for free, including strategies to use in the classroom.  

3. App: Breathing Zone

Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/breathing-zone/id369838631

Cost: $3.99

Age Range: 4+ years old

Description: This guided breathing exercise app is extremely easy to use; all you have to do is follow the guide. Fantastic tool for therapeutic breathing to regulate emotions and arousal!

4. App: Super Stretch Yoga

Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/super-stretch-yoga/id456113661?mt=8

Cost: Free

Age Range: All ages, but mostly geared towards younger children 4-9 year olds

Description: This is an interactive yoga app with 12 different poses to help regulate your child through movement and breath control. All of the poses are free and the graphics are very engaging and easy to follow.

5.App: Cosmic Kids Yoga

App: Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cosmic-kids/id1401503306?mt=8

Cost: Free

Age Range: 3-10 years old

Description: This fun yoga and mindfulness app is packed with over 50 engaging video “adventures” and ties in new and relevant themes that will speak to kids with all different interests (including Frozen, Moana, Minecraft, Wizard of Oz, and so much more). There are all types of exercises and activities to help assist in body regulation, increasing or decreasing arousal, and building awareness of our bodies, our mind-body connection, and the space around us.

6. App: Autism Emotion

Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/autism-emotion/id550027186?mt=8

Cost: Free

Age Range: 4+ years old

Description:  This app fosters emotional insight by providing music and photos to teach emotions (happy, sad, proud, calm) to children struggling to identify their feelings, specifically targeting the autism population. This app is very simple and easy to use!

7. App: Model Me Going Places 2

Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/model-me-going-places-2/id375669988?mt=8

Cost: Free

Age Range: 4+ years old

Description: This app is great social and emotional learning tool. The visual teaching tool is designed to help children prepare in advance and learn to navigate potentially challenging community settings by decreasing anxiety and modeling expected behaviors in each environment. Each location contains a photo slideshow and there are six social narratives included in the free version. This is a nice tool to use before planning a visit to a new place, such as a doctor’s office!

8. Ap: Calm  

Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/calm-meditation-to-relax-focus-sleep-better/id571800810?mt=8

Cost: Free

Age Range: 4+ years old

Description: This is an excellent meditation app designed to help achieve better sleep, reduced anxiety and stress, and overall relaxation. The app uses guided meditations, sleep stories, breathing programs, stretching exercises, and relaxing music. It is great for users of all different experience levels with meditation, and the sessions are available in varying lengths from 3-25 minutes so you can select an activity that fits the needs of your schedule and routines.

9. App: Headspace

Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/headspace-guided-meditation-and-mindfulness/id493145008?mt=8

Cost: Free

Age Range: 4+ years old

Description: This app provides guided meditations and mindfulness techniques targeting stress management, better sleep, and improved focus and attention. The free version is great, and there are also options for expanded subscriptions.

10. App: Pacifica

Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pacifica-for-stress-anxiety/id922968861?mt=8

Cost: Free

Age Range: 12+ years old

Description: This app provides cognitive behavioral therapy inspired tools, psychologist approved, to assist in management of stress, anxiety, and depression. There are great strategies for promotion of future oriented thinking, goal setting, mood tracking, challenging negative thoughts, and more.  The free trial gives you a taste of the app, but for more tailored tools a subscription is needed.

11. App: Insight Timer

Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/insight-timer-meditation-app/id337472899?mt=8

Cost: Free

Age Range: 4+ years or older, but more geared for older children and adults

Description: This app has endless incredible guided meditations, talks, and therapeutic music by top mindfulness experts, neuroscientists, psychologists, teachers, and musicians. There are tons of tracks designed to calm the mind, reduce anxiety, manage stress, improve sleep, enhance focus and concentration, and promote self-love. Absolutely fabulous app for those just beginning to explore their coping toolbox, and for experienced “meditators” alike!

12. App: Stop, Breathe, and Think Kids

Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/stop-breathe-think-kids/id1215758068?mt=8

Cost: Free

Age Range: 5-10 years old

Description:  This app is designed to help kids develop the superpowers they need for healthy sleep, keeping calm, and learning to resolve conflicts.  Through mindful games and activities, children check in to how they are feeling and then try out various tools, “missions,” and meditative strategies to self adjust. “Stickers” are used to monitor progress and fun emojis keep the children excited and engaged. 

13. App: Middle School Confidential

Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app-bundle/middle-school-confidential-series/id917713588?mt=8

Cost: $2.99 each

Age Range: 8-14 years old

Description: This is a series of apps in the format of a graphic novel that teaches students how to overcome everyday situations that present in mid-childhood, including struggling with self confidence, coping with relationship issues among friends and family members, dealing with bullies, and much more. Each book has quizzes, quotes and tips from real teens, advice from parenting experts, and lots of online and real world resources. The modern day, “Chicken Soup for the Pre-Teen Soul” according to Ms. Jen!

14. App: Emotionary  

Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/emotionary-by-funny-feelings/id515860459?mt=8

Cost: Free

Age Range: 5+ years old

Description: This app is essentially a dictionary for emotional intelligence, guiding users through primary emotions to easily find the right category of feeling to better understand, express, and put specific names to experiential feelings. This app is great for those searching for the language to better express themselves and have their emotional needs met!

15. App: Daniel Tiger’s Grr-ific Feelings

Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/daniel-tiger-for-parents/id1185651115?mt=8

Cost: Free

Age Range: 2-5 years old

Description: This app uses fun and engaging songs and activities to help children identify and express feelings, self-calm, and tackle daily living skills (for example: potty training) by hanging with their friend and neighbor, “Daniel Tiger.”

16. App: For Me by Childline

Link: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/for-me/id1094217440?mt=8

Cost: Free

Age Range: 12+ years old

Description: This fabulous app helps children and young adults access support on a wide selection of mental health and wellbeing topics including, but not limited to: body issues, academic stressors, relationships, mood swings, self-harm, and bullying.  This app provides self-help articles and videos, message boards, and the ability to connect with a Childline counselor if needed.  What’s awesome about this app is that they have a password-protected “Locker Room,” where users can bookmark articles, reflect and track their moods, keep an online journal, and even store artwork and counselor conversations. Parents and caregivers can access the “Locker Room” to oversee and monitor their child’s activity.

17. App: Fabulous Self Care

Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fabulous-self-care/id1203637303

Cost: Free

Age Range: Teens and up

Description: This app helps promote healthy lifestyle by taking users through step-by-step to set out daily routines and beneficial habits. The app also includes suggestions and activities to integrate exercise and diet plans, coaching on goal-setting and making sustainable positive changes, and tools to boost energy, motivation, and wellness. Users can access a free trial version of this app, but for consistent use will need a monthly subscription is needed.

18. App: Mindshift

Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mindshift-cbt-anxiety-canada/id634684825?mt=8

Cost: Free

Age Range: 12+ years old

Description: This app serves as a simulated coach to help teens and young adults cope with anxiety and overcome challenging situations using principles of cognitive behavioral therapy. Specific tools, such as “coping cards,” “facing fears,” and “thought journal”, help users tackle issues such as dealing with panic attacks, improving sleep quality, handling conflicts, and much more.

19. App: Moodpath

Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/moodpath-depression-anxiety/id1052216403?mt=8

Cost: Free

Age Range: 12+ years old

Description: This app is designed for individuals struggling with symptoms of depression and anxiety by tracking psychological, emotional and physical health, assessing symptoms, and providing tools for reflection. The app also provides education on the psychology behind mood, signs of depression, and effective tools to improve mental health, mood, sleep, and self-advocacy. After a free trial, a monthly subscription purchase is required, however the free trial provides a good starting point for conversations to have with physicians regarding signs/symptoms as well as sample ideas for coping strategies.

*In accordance with the recommendations of the Academy of Pediatrics (2018), we would like to remind you that children under 5 should be exposed to no more than one hour of screen time per day, and children over five should have no more than two hours of screen time per day.

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