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Happify aims to help users reduce stress, anxiety and negative thinking, and improve emotional well-being. Users create an account and answer a short questionnaire which helps the app suggest a “track” for the user. “Tracks” are groups of activities and games which help the user achieve their goals. Tracks are based on cognitive behavioral principles therapy, mindfulness and positive psychology and are created by professionals to help clients achieve specific goals. Examples of tracks include “Cope Better with Stress” and “Conquer Your Negative Thinking.” Users can access free tracks or choose to pay a subscription fee to access more tracks and features such as data statistics that help measure progress. There is also an AI coach present to help guide users. Users can participate in the Happify community through forums and public posts and they can also read a digest of positive news through Happify Daily.
Accessibility features are presented upon being introduced to the app. Settings include a high-contrast mode, font resizing through the operating system, and the option to be notified if an activity requires high audio/visual content.Read the Professional Review for Happify: A Professional Review
Available for: Requires iOS 9.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Requires Android 5.0 and up. Available on the Web.
Developer: Happify, Inc.
Type of Treatment: Cognitive Behavioral Principles, Mindfulness, Symptom Tracking/Self-Monitoring, Psychoeducation & Information, Gratitude, Chatbot/AI
Targeted Conditions: Mood Disorders, Stress and Anxiety, PTSD, Sleep, Chronic Pain
Target Audience: Adults
Designed to be used in conjunction with a professional? No
Languages Available: English, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Traditional Chinese
Cost: Free with in-app purchases
Get it on: Apple App Store, Google Play, Web
One study tested the efficacy of Happify, specifically whether usage predicts well-being. Data was collected from 152,747 users, and results showed that happiness improved about 11% over the course of 8 weeks. More usage predicted more positive emotion and less usage predicted less positive emotion (Carpenter et al., 2016. https://www.jmir.org/2016/8/e241/)
Another study investigated the effects of the Breather activity in Happify. 140 participants (mean age 20.48 y/o, 77.1% female) were presented with a stressor and randomly assigned to recovery in one of three conditions; with a phone, no phone, and with the Happify Breather game (treatment condition). The study found significantly less salivary alpha amylase in the treatment condition, indicating better recovery with the treatment conditio (Hunter et al., 2019. https://games.jmir.org/2019/4/e15974/)
In a study published in 2018, 1051 new users of Happify were randomly assigned to one of 4 groups; Happify recommended usage group, Happify low usage group, psychoeducation recommended usage group, and psychoeducation low usage group. The majority of participants were female (N=908) and varied widely in age. Depression, anxiety, stress, positive emotionality, optimism and resilience were measured. Depressive symptoms for participants in the Happify recommended usage condition were significantly lower than in the low usage Happify condition, and the recommended psychoeducation condition. There was no significant difference between low usage psychoeducation participants and recommended usage Happify participants. Anxiety symptoms were significantly lower for the recommended usage Happify condition than in the low usage Happify condition, and both psychoeducation conditions. Recommended usage Happify participants demonstrated significantly larger improvements in resilience compared to low usage Happify participants, and both psychoeducation conditions (Parks et al., 2018. https://www.internationaljournalofwellbeing.org/ijow/index.php/ijow/article/view/745)
In another study published in 2018, change in resilience was measured for new users of Happify who were also employed full-time. Users were randomly assigned to one of 3 conditions: Happify intervention, psychoeducational interventions (modules-only), and no usage (no treatment). There were two samples of users, with sample 1 (N=321) measuring emotional distress in full-time employees and sample 2 (N=270) measuring workplace distress in full-time employees. In Sample 1, all three conditions showed significant effects. Happify showed greater significant change in resilience from baseline to post-test than did participants in the Psychoeducation or no-usage conditions. In sample 2, employees who used Happify showed significantly greater increases in resilience over eight weeks than employees in the other two groups (Williams et al., 2018. https://www.awhillans.com/uploads/1/2/3/5/123580974/specialpopulations_outline.docx_-_google_docs.pdf)”
We review apps against rating criteria developed by experts in the field. Some of those criteria are:
We look at the research supporting the technology and the credibility of the development process.
We review privacy policies to see if key pieces of information about what happens with entered data are addressed.
We explore how fun, functional, easy-to-use, engaging, and interesting the technology is.
A professional in a relevant field downloads and uses the technology and writes a narrative review, highlighting pros & cons and some recommendations for use.