AfterParty Answers: Do Mental Health Apps Work?

AfterParty Answers: Do Mental Health Apps Work?


AfterPartyOver here at AfterParty, we receive an onslaught of questions from people about addiction and recovery. And well, our new video series AfterParty Answers gives us an opportunity to address them. In this episode, Anna David and Danielle Stewart reach into the AfterParty archives to answer a reader’s question about mental health apps.

In case you haven’t heard, mental health apps are all the rage now—venture capitalists are dumping money into this market and various apps, including some focused entirely on addiction and recovery, are popping up everywhere.
But how much do they help?
Some of these apps, particularly the recovery ones, are just meant to connect people with like-minded folks struggling with similar issues. But others have a more specific focus—say, Koko, where people are relying on feedback from strangers for their oftentimes quite serious issues. Others, like Joyable, provide users with CBT exercises and while that’s wonderful, how effective are these in the end? Well, as we wrote in December of 2015, studies show that these apps work best in conjunction with mental health professionals and if you have a mental health professional, why do you need the app?
In the end, those who feel like they need mental health help may be far better off looking into therapy. Yes, it costs money and many of these apps are free but is there anything more worth spending cash on than your mental health? And there are far more sliding scale therapists out there than many may think.

Of course this is a complicated question so for a longer answer, check out out this vid. While we aren’t in any way medical professions (emphasis on “aren’t in any way medical professionals”), we are sober folks who have not only grappled with some of the issues being asked about but have also written scads of articles for this very site on them. Tune in every Wednesday to see what you, our faithful readers, want to know.

Want to see all of our AfterParty Answers videos? Good news! You can simply click here!

 Photo by Andy Marx


1 Comment

  1. Taylor Tracy on (website as well as an app on iOS and Android) is a great resource as well! It’s a free habit tracking app for any goal or habit under the sun. You add a goal to your dashboard and can check-in to track your progress. If you go to that goal’s homepage screen type thing, you’ll see a Q&A type forum from other users of the app/site. The “No Alcohol” habit/goal in particular has the most active community on the whole platform. It’s such a great group of people and you really get to know each other and your stories over time. People post when they’re wondering something, they chime in with call to actions for getting others to commit to being sober for the weekend, work week, day, etc, they post resources, and the community responds by giving advice or support. As you mentioned about KoKo, these people aren’t necessarily trained professionals in the mental health or substance abuse field (though some of them are) but there’s something comforting about being able to connect with people who are struggling with the same type of stuff you’re going through. also offers coaching in many goals for cheaper than what it’d cost you to see a therapist if you’re uninsured, and it’s all text-based coaching (phone calls are available too, pricing at the discretion of the coach). I’ve been a coach on there for a year now (as a side job) and have been sober for two and a half years. I’ve learned so much about the sobriety process through working with my clients…I honestly love how it’s different for everyone and It’s exhilarating to help people find what it is that’s going to work for them in the long run.

    That said, when I was getting sober there wasn’t a strong community on that site, so I went to Reddit’s “Stop Drinking” subreddit ( This subreddit allows you to sign up for a badge with your sobriety start date, as well as request a badge reset when you break your streak. The badge reset isn’t automatic — one of the moderators of the subreddit manually resets it for you and sends you some words of encouragement. That really helped me feel like there was some added accountability in it for me to stay sober — I didn’t want to give this person more work to do just because I couldn’t get my act together. The community on /r/stopdrinking is WAY more expansive than what you’ll find on, so if you’re looking for a wide smattering of various perspectives, that’s a good place to check out. is nice because it feels more intimate (smaller group, you get to know each other) but /r/stopdrinking is great for people who want more anonminity, to reach out but not necessarily be heard (though hoping that they will be), and to read the posts that people share there. There are some touching stories and I’ve found myself being able to relate to people I wouldn’t otherwise be able to relate to. You don’t have to set up an account with Reddit to lurk the subreddit (though it’s free and you can only upvote and comment if you’re logged in), so it’s nice to be able to browse and test the waters before getting involved ( is free to join but you need to join before you can add goals and talk in the forums).

    I like these apps and websites because 12 step programs and going to meetings really didn’t work for me. Being able to access a community in my pocket or on my computer was incredibly helpful in my recovery. Although I regularly see a therapist, I didn’t have insurance when I decided to get sober and so I didn’t have that support to help me along the way. It would have been nice to have, but an hour a week still doesn’t seem like enough for when I’m working on things that aren’t even as difficult as sobriety was for me at first! There’s no one way to get sober, it’s all about finding the mix of things that works for you 🙂

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AfterParty Magazine is the editorial division of It showcases writers in recovery, some of whom choose to remain anonymous. Other stories by AfterParty Magazine are the collective effort of the AfterParty staff.