[App Friday] InnerHour helps users deal with mental health, lifestyle issues

The Mumbai-based app, with over a million downloads on the Google Play Store, is backed by venture capital firm Lightbox.

While depression and anxiety are a part of everyday life for several people, the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with lockdowns made coping with stress tougher as it snapped human interactions. 

Working from home contributed to an increase in stress levels due to longer working hours and economic uncertainty. The second wave of the pandemic was even more challenging for many as people had to deal with losing loved ones. The shortage of beds further added to anxiety. 

In April, there was at least 20 percent increase in mental health-related cases, according to a survey conducted by the Indian Psychiatry Society. 

Amid the pandemic, a few startups in the mental health and wellbeing space have seen growth as people turn to digital channels to find help.

Inner Hour, an app launched in 2017, provides professional assistance in tackling depression, anxiety, and difficulties in falling asleep, among other mental health and lifestyle issues. 

In February this year, the platform also raised $5.2 million in a Series A funding round from venture capital firm Lightbox Ventures  

The app currently has over one million downloads and 4.5 rating, according to data available on the Google Play Store. 

How does it work?

InnerHour can be downloaded from either from the iOS or the Google PlayStore. Once downloaded, the app will ask you to log in. You can use either Gmail ID, Facebook account or any other email to get started. 

The app then provides a list of “mental health goals”, which include Overcoming Depression, Beating Anxiety, Tackling Stress and Sleeping Better. 

This writer chose Sleeping Better. InnerHour then provides a small brief about the importance of sleep and how the app can help. 

The app then suggests a few plans, where you can either work on the issue by yourself or take professional help. You can choose a plan based on the gravity of the issue. If the problem is serious then you can click on ‘I want to talk to a therapist’ or ‘I need medication support’. 

Credit: YourStory Design

Since the sleep problem was not extremely serious, this writer chose ‘I want to work on my own’ plan. InnerHour then does a quick survey to understand the seriousness of the issue. The survey questions are based on sleep habits, day-to-day lifestyle, and activities done before going to bed and so on. It then provides an assessment followed by a personalised plan. In case of sleep, the plan included a four-week course consisting of different exercises. 

Day 1 exercise was a pre-recorded audio clip, which the user is supposed to listen to before going to bed. The 7-8 minute ‘Awareness of Breath’ clip helps focus on being more present trying to fall asleep. 

This writer was sleeping soundly within a few minutes of listening to the track. While the first day course is free, the rest of the plan is behind a paywall. 

But even with the course being behind a paywall, there are many other things you can still do with the free version. The top bar lets you switch between your issues. Then a bar titled ‘2021 Well-being guide’, just under the top bar, lets you explore many other courses including Keeping Loneliness at Bay, Cultivating Resilience, Building Emotional Intelligence, and Hope for the New Year.   

You can choose to do one of these courses on the side. Once you tap on ‘Keeping Loneliness at Bay’ course, for instance, InnerHour explains why you might be feeling lonely and how you can tackle it. The course is divided into daily exercises, which take a survey of your belief and try to give you a solution for the same. 

Credit: YourStory Design

As you scroll further on the home page, you will find a mood tracker, additional courses related to your health concern, a blog, and a chatbot named Allie, which again provides solutions for any issues you might be dealing with. 


InnerHour is designed as the first step for people to understand their mental health issues, before getting involved with a professional. The language across the entire app feels like a therapist is on the other side although you know these are all algorithms.

This helps InnerHour give a very personal touch to a mechanical app and it would put you at ease, if you are dealing with mental-health issues for the first time. The chatbot also specifies that she is a machine but can guide you to the right solution, and most likely she does. 

The app could do well with an improved user interface. Although it has neat neutral shades, it looks very similar to other meditation and mental health-focused apps. Especially the interface where the sleep audio clip was playing resembled meditation app Headspace’s user interface. 

Overall it is a good app to use even if you are only using the free version. But again, if you have serious mental health issues then do seek a therapist.

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Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti


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