Why mental health apps like SuperBetter and Happify use play techniques

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  • Dozens of mental health apps are available in the App Store, which remind users to drink water, take note of their feelings, and more.
  • Applications like SuperBetter adopt aspects of traditional games, such as bonuses and quests.
  • According to a Silicon Valley mental health professional, the future of mental health apps must look more like blockbuster games.
  • Visit the Business Insider homepage for more stories.

You probably wouldn’t think of drinking a glass of water or talking to another person as “power-ups,” but the SuperBetter app reframe the maintenance of sanity like a game.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, reaching 40 million adults, a potentially huge market for apps that claim to help relieve symptoms. Anxiety is already a big deal, with the development of products including stir the spinners, weighted blankets, coloring books and more.

Other applications, like Happy, are also using the gamification trend as a way to market anti-anxiety practices, such as

meditation
and overcome negative thoughts. In Happify you get silver or gold for completing stages, while in SuperBetter you can do power-ups, fight baddies, and complete quests.

Dr. Cameron Sepah, a psychologist who works primarily with technology executives and VCs in his private practice in San Francisco, believes that ”

digital therapy
“Like these apps, are the future of mental health because they are more easily scalable and accessible than traditional therapy. He says the next generation of mental health apps won’t look like traditional treatments, but rather at games .

“The next big mental health app will look like Pokemon Go, and SuperBetter is the closest I’ve seen so far,” he told Business Insider US on a phone call.

Here’s how these game-like mental health apps work:


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