Download the app for free today!

Headstrong is a free, science-backed app delivering support and psychoeducation based on cognitive behavioural therapy, positive psychology, mindfulness, interpersonal skills, and harm-minimisation strategies.

Aroha guide welcome UI on app

So how does it work?

Developed by mental health and digital experts at the University of Auckland, in consultation with rangatahi, Headstrong is an always-accessible tool that helps young people develop inner resources to thrive.

Choose a course you would like to start with

Each course takes a different approach to improving wellbeing, or focuses on a specific pillar of wellbeing. Pick the ones that are right for you.

Learn skills to help you and your wellbeing

Courses contain a range of Skill Sets, each teaching essential skills for optimal hauora in a straightforward, conversational way.

Track your progress with daily check-ins

Checking in to track your mood and progress can help boost motivation by showing you how far you’ve come on your wellbeing journey!

Benefits backed by science

Developed with rangatahi & digital experts at the University of Auckland. The content draws on culturally responsive and evidence-based strategies.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Identify and change negative thought patterns, improve emotional regulation and engage in healthier behaviours.

Te Whare Tapa Whā

Support for your mind and body, your connections with whānau and friends, & your spirit or beliefs. All these parts need to be strong and balanced for you to feel your best!

Positive Psychology

Leveraging rangatahi's inherent strengths to foster optimism, gratitude, and a positive outlook on life.

Relaxation & Mindfulness

Boost self-awareness, align actions with values, enhance self-esteem, and assist with better sleep.

Interpersonal Skills & Communication

Learn how to handle complex relationship dynamics,  develop meaningful & genuine connections.

Substance Use & Harm Minimisation

Guidance for safer choices and behaviour changes, with the aim of empowering teens to prioritise their safety and wellbeing.

No phone?
No worries!

Headstrong also has a desktop app created to empower rangatahi with evidence-based tools, to help prioritise well-being.

Headstrong Stress Less UI image

Got questions?

If your questions aren’t answered here, feel free to send us a message!

Is Headstrong free?

Absolutely! Headstrong is a 100% free app, thanks to the funding from Te Whatu Ora. That means no subscriptions or in-app purchases to worry about.

What if I need help immediately?

If you ever have thoughts about harming yourself or others, it's crucial to reach out to someone who understands and is trained to help.

For immediate crisis support and helplines, please visit the Mental website.

If you or someone else might be unsafe right now, dial 111.

For urgent mental health support, contact the nearest Crisis Assessment Team to you here.

If you're seeking mental health resources, you can find them on our Get Help Now page.

Who created Headstrong and how was it developed?

Headstrong was developed by a team of experts in youth mental health from the University of Auckland, working alongside rangatahi/young people. Our content is based on proven strategies to strengthen mental health and build resilience. It is grounded in a holistic wellbeing model called Te Whare Tapa Whā.

What am I going to learn from Headstrong?

Headstrong uses evidence-based and culturally responsive psychological and psychotherapy strategies to help you strengthen your mental health, be more resilient, aid in stress relief, have better relationships, and more. The skills are based on:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT): How to understand and change negative thoughts and behaviours to feel better
  • Positive psychology: How to enhance your positive emotions, grow your strengths, and keep a grateful mindset
  • Mindfulness: How to stay calm and in the moment to feel more at peace – like deep breathing and other breathing exercises
  • Interpersonal skills: How to get along with others, communicate better, and build strong relationships with friends and family
  • Harm-minimisation strategies: How to stay safe around drugs and alcohol and other addictive things

These strategies are commonly used by counsellors and psychologists because research shows they work effectively for most individuals, most of the time.

How do I get the most of out of Headstrong?

Download the app for iPhone/Android (or access the desktop version) and start using it regularly. Just like working out makes your body stronger, practising self-care skills with Headstrong strengthens your mental wellness and emotional wellbeing. Starting as a beginner, you'll form healthy habits and notice the difference over time—learning coping skills, feeling happier, handling stress better, and having better relationships.

Remember, we have different courses and you can try one or all of them. As part of our goal to be the best mental health app for our rangatahi, we are constantly adding new features so keep checking your app for these.

Are the guides real people?

No, our guides are not real people. They are virtual/digital chatbots designed to deliver content through brief, scripted conversations based on predefined rules. We don't use generative AI like ChatGPT, so our chatbots can't generate their own original content.

You can choose your own guide from a selection that represents the diversity of young people in Aotearoa New Zealand. We work closely with rangatahi to ensure that our guides sound relatable, engaging, and helpful.

How often is the app updated with new skills/courses?

We're constantly working to enhance the Headstrong wellness app, incorporating the latest research, data, and feedback to improve all aspects of the mobile app user experience. Stay tuned and check-in on your email to find out when new content is added or updated.

Got something to share?

We're always eager to improve the Headstrong app further. Please send us your feedback at

Can I find out more about your research?

We share our findings in scientific journals. You can read more about this  on our Research publications page.