Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • You can track various aspects of your mental health directly on your iPhone or iPad using the Health app.
  • The app includes a mental health questionnaire, allows you to log your emotions and mood, and track contributing factors like exercise minutes and time in daylight.

Instead of relying on third-party apps, track aspects of your mental health like mood, anxiety and depression risk, and other contributing factors, directly on your iPhone or iPad. Apple includes these tools within the Health app right on your device.

Exploring the Mental Wellbeing Section in the Health App

As of iOS 17 and iPadOS 17, Apple has added a Mental Wellbeing section to the Health app that lets you track your emotions and mood or take a deep dive into several factors contributing to your overall mental health.

To access this, open the Health app on your iPhone.

Screenshot of iPhone's home screen with an arrow next to the Health app.

Tap on “Browse” in the bottom right corner.

Screenshot of Apple Health's home screen with an arrow next to the Browse option.

Select “Mental Wellbeing” from the Health Categories list.

Screenshot of Apple Health with an arrow next to the Mental Wellbeing option.

Here, you’ll see a list of health-related metrics to track your mental health. The available options are Anxiety Risk, Depression Risk, Exercise Minutes, Mindful Minutes, Sleep, State of Mind, and Time in Daylight. .

Take the Mental Health Questionnaire

The Mental Health Questionnaire is a good place to start. Per the Apple support page, the questionnaire can “help identify if you are at risk for depression and/or anxiety.”

For assessing the risk for depression, the app relies on the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), a test many doctors use to screen and measure the symptoms of depression. For measuring anxiety levels, the app uses the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) questionnaire.

The number after the acronym signifies the number of questions in each test. Depending on the score, the app determines whether someone is at low, moderate, or high risk for the conditions mentioned above.

In the Mental Wellbeing section, tap the Anxiety Risk or Depression Risk button to take the relevant questionnaire.

Screenshot of the Health app highlighting the Anxiety and Depression Risk.

Press “Begin” on the following screen.

Screenshot of the Begin button in Apple's Health app.

You can also scroll down, press the “Take Questionnaire” button to take both tests together, and then hit “Begin” at the bottom.

Screenshot of the Health app with an arrow next to Take Questionnaire button.

Answer all of the questions from the available options, including “Not at all,” “Several days,” “More than half the days,” or “Nearly every day.” Hit “Done” at the bottom.

Screenshot of the mental health questionnaire app showing the options.

Based on your responses, the app determines the anxiety or depression risk. You will see one of the following indicators: Minimal, Mild, Moderate, or Severe.

Screenshot of the Health app showing the mental health questionnaire result.

Once you take the test, the app will store the results as a log, with the time, day, and result, so you can monitor wellbeing over time.

Anxiety Risk test log in Apple's Health.

Although Apple mentions that the results should not be considered a medical diagnosis, they give you a fair idea, especially in the initial stages.

If the results show Minimal risk, you need not worry about anything. In case of Mild risk, the app recommends you repeat the questionnaire in two weeks to see if the symptoms prevail. However, those who get Moderate or Severe should consider seeking help. Users can also share their PHQ-9 or GAD-7 test results with the professional during the appointment.

Log Your Emotions and Mood

The Health app also lets you reflect on your emotions at a given time or daily mood in the State of Mind section. According to Apple Health keeping a log of your momentary emotions or everyday mood “can help you identify patterns” and correlate them with other factors, such as exercise, sleep, etc.

In the Mental Wellbeing section, scroll down and tap “State of Mind.”

Screenshot of the Health app with an arrow next to State of Mind option.

Hit “Get Started.”

Screenshot of Get Started button in the State of Mind section.

Choose whether you want to log a momentary emotion or your overall mood on the following screen. For this example, I’ve selected “How you feel right now.”

Screenshot of emotions and mood logging in Apple Health app.

Hit “Next” at the bottom.

Screenshot of the Next button.

Drag the slider on the next screen toward “Very Unpleasant” or “Very Pleasant.” Hit “Next” once you’re done.

Screenshot of the emotion or mood logging slider in Apple Health app.

Now select the appropriate options under the question “What best describes this feeling?” If you don’t find a relevant option, tap “Show More” and select one from the list. Hit “Next.”

Screenshot of the

Now answer, “What’s having the biggest impact on you?” Select from the available options.

Screenshot of a question in the State of Mind logging section in Apple Health.

At this step, you can leave additional context as well. Once everything looks fine, tap “Done.”

Arrows highlighting the additional context text field and done button.

The Health app will store the entry as a log.

Screenshot of the State of Mind log in Apple's Health app.

Exercise Minutes and Time in Daylight

Apple keeps track of daily exercise minutes as performing any activity, whether walking or resistance workout, is directly related to our physical health and, subsequently, to our mental health.

Every minute of movement that equals the intensity of a brisk walk counts as exercise minutes in the Health app. Although you can’t add them manually, your iPhone or Apple Watch automatically records any such activity.

Screenshot of the Exercise Minutes log in Apple Health app.

Similarly, Time in Daylight, or the time you spend in sunlight, is another factor that impacts your mental well-being. Per Health All, “spending around 20 minutes outdoors every day has numerous physical and mental health benefits.” If you have an (unobstructed) Apple Watch this data will be recorded automatically but you can also record the data manually.

Select Time In Daylight in the Mental Wellbeing section.

Screenshot of the Time in Daylight option in Apple Health app.

Tap “Add Data” in the top right corner.

Screenshot of the Add Data option in Time in Daylight menu in Apple Health app.

Choose the starting and the end time.

Selecting the duration of Time in Daylight in the app.

Hit “Add” in the top right corner.

Screenshot of the Time in Daylight menu highlighting the Add button.

Sleep Cycle and Mindful Minutes

Maintaining a regular sleep cycle and getting at least seven to eight hours of sleep a day is vital for the normal functioning of our body. Per the article in the Health app, sleep allows our body to perform essential maintenance on our memory, hormones, immune system, and other critical functions.

Screenshot of the sleep tracking log in Mental Wellbeing app.

If you already use your iPhone’s or Apple Watch’s sleep monitoring features, the Health app will show the recorded data in the Mental Wellbeing section. If not, you can go to Health > Browse > Sleep and set your schedule.

Screenshot of the Full Schedule & Options for Sleep tracking in Apple Health.

You can also keep track of Mindful Minutes or the “state of active, open attention at the present.” Although the app doesn’t specify this, there’s a Mindfulness app on the Apple Watch that lets users “set aside a few minutes a day to focus, center, and connect” as they breathe, or simple breathing meditation.

Screenshot of the Health app highlighting the Mindful Minutes option.

If you perform any such activity, you can add that to the Health app manually. The steps are similar to those of adding Time in Daylight.

Screenshot of the Health app highlighting the Mindful Minutes option.

Resources to Understand the Factors That Affect Mental Health

The Health app also contains several articles that educate users about the importance of all the different factors, such as sleep, the difference between emotion and mood, and more. All you need to do is tap on them. Further, all the sections explained in this article have a dedicated “About” section explaining their significance.

Including mental health tracking features in the Health app is a great initiative, especially since it allows users to track all the different metrics by themselves, get deeper insights by correlating the factors, and take action.

If you like this guide, check out the best health apps for iPhone to help you get in shape too.

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By John P.

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