Headspace (Free, Apple iOS and Android)
Mindfulness techniques have benefits for mood, attention and general coping skills for the ups and downs of life. This simple, beautifully designed app gives you 10 short meditations, four brief videos explaining what meditation is and a series of facts and questions. Keep track of how many of the meditations you have listened to and try 10 minutes a day for 10 days.
Dream:ON (Free, Apple iOS)
Monitor your sleep cycle via your level of movement through the night, play a "soundscape" of your choice to try to influence your dreams and be woken during the optimum part of your sleep cycle. Choose whether to share your data to take part in their experiment. Soundscape didn't make you dream? You still get a graph of your sleep cycle and wake up more gently than with an alarm.
3D Brain (Free, Apple iOS, Android)
The neuroscience behind what we think and feel is increasingly in the news, especially with eye-catching brain imaging pictures. This app from Cold Spring Habour Laboratory shows 29 3D interactive brain structures with information about function, neurological disorders, example case studies and research links. Old-school CD-Rom in style but useful to psychology or neuroscience students and interesting to anyone intrigued by the brain.
Live Happy (Free, iOS)
This app is based on the realm of positive psychology: ideas for boosting optimum happiness using psychology, rather than only using psychological ideas, to treat unhappiness. It prompts you to engage in a range of activities, which research has shown can boost your mood. It includes goal-setting, savouring the present moment, thinking about your best possible self and many more features.
Thought Diary Pro ($4.99, iOS)
There are several thought-tracking apps based on cognitive behavioural therapy and for me this is the best of the bunch, although it still has limited explanations. Keep track of your negative thoughts to help you spot unhelpful thinking biases and generate alternatives. Definitely more useful if you are already familiar with the principles of CBT, e.g. as a therapy add-on or follow-up tool.
Mindshift (Free, Apple iOS and Android)
This app is designed for teenagers and young adults who want help with feelings of anxiety. The language and interface is simple, it provides some useful information about what anxiety is and helpful strategies to try to tackle it. There is also a nice quick tips section for use in panicky situations. And it's useful for adults too.
My Rewards (Free, iOS)
A key psychological parenting principle is rewarding behaviours you want to increase. Star charts encourage positive behaviour by motivating children with stickers or rewards. There are a ridiculous number of star chart apps, but this one is the simplest I found. It does what it says on the tin: it's a star chart but on your phone. Useful for parents when they're out and about and easy to understand.
Way of Life (Free or $4.99 if you want to monitor more than 3 goals, iOS)
Another app that harnesses the behavioural principles of reward, Way of Life invites you to select personal goals and monitor whether you have achieved them each day. It produces helpful motivational graphs to track your progress towards your own goals. Useful if you are trying to create new habits or kick unhelpful ones.
My Mood Tracker (Free, iOS)
Keeping track of how we feel helps us to notice that sad moods do pass, and can also potentially helps us link our mood to things we do, places we go and people we talk to. My Mood Tracker can collect additional information on sleep patterns, exercise and a whole caboodle of other things. Not as hi-tech as some similar apps, which also measure your location and other phone data, but reliable and easy to use and you can add location in manually if you want.
Expereal (Free, iOS)
Another mood tracker, the aim of this app is to help you see how your emotional life "trends" over time. Emotions colour the way we perceive things, and the app creator thinks Expereal can help us remember our emotional life more accurately. Pretty basic in the actual data it gathers, limited to your mood, location, additional tags and optional photos, but unusually beautiful in design.