How does Sanvello work?
Sanvello is a mental health app that uses the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help users with anxiety, depression and stress. It offers self-care tools — including mood exercises and guided meditations — as well as virtual therapy and coaching with an upgraded subscription.
All of the content on the app is reviewed by a board of psychologists and psychotherapists led by Chief Medical Officer Dr. Monika Roots.
Formerly called Pacifica, Sanvello was founded in 2014 by CEO Dale Beermann and developer Chris Goettel. They had personal reasons for developing the app: Beermann had successfully used mindfulness practices to combat insomnia, while Goettell reduces his social anxiety with CBT.
It was renamed in 2019 after being acquired by Sanvello, Inc. — a branch of the United Health insurance company.
Key features of Sanvello
Sanvello is built on four pillars, and your membership determines which features you can access.
|Self-care||This “toolkit” makes up the bulk of the app, and it aims to teach you how to manage your anxiety, depression and stress.|
There are three categories:
- Guided journeys. Each journey focuses on achieving one goal with the help of learning tools, exercises and audio lessons. You can follow a journey to feel better, take control of your emotions, build confidence or become more mindful.
- Mood. The app encourages you to rate your mood and feelings, and track how they change throughout the day. The goal is to identify patterns and triggers.
- Health. This section explains how getting enough sleep, exercising and limiting caffeine and alcohol can improve your mood. You can set goals for yourself and monitor your progress.
- Meditation. Sanvello has over 30 guided meditations to help you relax, and feel grateful and mindful. There are also meditations for dealing with stressful situations, like public speaking and social anxiety, as well as breathwork sessions and soundscapes.
|Coaching||Connect with a “health coach” who’s trained in CBT and mindfulness techniques.|
A coaching membership includes:
- One-on-one messaging with your coach
- Live group coaching sessions that correspond to the “feel better” guided journey
If you need extra support, your coach may refer you to a licensed mental health professional and help you work on the goals that come out of those sessions.
|Teletherapy||Sanvello offers virtual, one-on-one sessions with a therapist or psychiatrist. You can opt for an audio or video call, and make appointments as needed with a premium membership.|
When you sign up for therapy, you’ll be asked to fill out a questionnaire about your language preferences and the areas you need help with. The app will then present you with a list of matching therapists to choose from.
This telehealth feature is still being rolled out, so therapy isn’t available in all states.
|Peer support||Speak to other members anonymously and in real-time via group chats. There are dozens of forums focusing on stress relief techniques, motivation and more.|
Once you join a forum, you can like, comment on or contribute posts of your own.
Is Sanvello effective?
Yes — according to the one published study on Sanvello. In 2019, 500 adults with mild to moderate anxiety or depression were asked to use the app for one month.
Over the course of 30 days:
- Sanvello was clinically proven to decrease symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress by up to 15%.
- Partificants used Sanvello nearly five times more than traditional therapy platforms.
- Participants who completed more mindfulness exercises showed the most improvement at the two-month follow-up.
- Patients reported a boost in their self-efficacy, and said the effects lasted after they stopped using the app.
Which devices can I use Sanvello on?
While you can use Sanvello on your Internet browser, it’s primarily designed as a smartphone app.
Sanvello is compatible with the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, and requires iOS 10.0 or later. You can also download the app on Android 5.0 devices and up.
Pros and cons of Sanvello
- Comprehensive self-care app. Between the CBT exercises, coaching, therapy and community boards, Sanvello is one of the most all-encompassing apps on the market.
- Decent amount of free content. Like all mental health apps, you’ll have a better experience with the premium version. But Sanvello’s free features give you a true taste of the app offers.
- Accountability features. The app encourages users to check in with themselves and their mood daily, and assess their progress.
- Customized content. Sanvello recommends specific content, videos and skills based on your goals.
- It’s inexpensive. At $8.99 a month for the premium version, Sanvello is cheaper than many competitors.
- Accepts health insurance. Your membership costs may be partially or fully covered by your health plan.
- Backed by science. Sanvello’s content is vetted by a team of psychologists, and the app itself is clinically proven to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Teletherapy isn’t available nationwide. You can only chat to a therapist in AZ, CA, CO, FL, IL, MA, MN, NJ, NY, NC, OH, PA, RI, TX, VA and WA.
- Unclear qualifications for coaches. Sanvello says its coaches have “health and wellness backgrounds” and over 200 hours of training in CBT, but they don’t appear to be certified.
Compare mental health apps
How much does Sanvello cost?
Sanvello is free to download, and users can access some modules and meditations as well as a two-week free trial of the self-care and coaching content.
To unlock all the features, you’ll need to subscribe to a paid version. Here’s the breakdown:
- Sanvello Premium Access. $8.99 a month, or $53.99 a year.
- Sanvello Coaching. $60 a month, or $350 a year.
- Sanvello Therapy. Around $125 per session, depending on your therapist.
A Coaching or Therapy subscription gives you access to the app’s premium content, such as the self-care toolkit.
Does Sanvello offer any discounts?
No — but you can set up a payment plan by calling 877-441-0121 and pressing option 3.
Sanvello also partners with some colleges to offer free premium subscriptions, including Texas A&M University. There’s a full list on the website.
Does Sanvello accept insurance?
Yes. Sanvello partners with most major health insurance companies in the US.
To find out if you’re covered, open the app and choose Upgrade. Over 40 million Americans are eligible, according to the company.
Can I use my FSA or HSA to pay for my subscription?
It’s worth a try. Some members have success using their Health Savings Account (HSA) and Flexible Savings Account (FSA) to pay for their subscription, according to Sanvello’s media rep.
Has Sanvello made any changes during COVID-19?
At the onset of the pandemic in March, Sanvello made its premium content free to all new and existing users. For those who opted in at that time, the offer is extended through December 31, 2020.
Helplines and mental health resources to rely on during the COVID-19 pandemic
Sanvello reviews and complaints
Sanvello isn’t accredited with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and it doesn’t have a BBB rating due to the short period of time it’s been in business. The BBB has recorded one complaint against the business, and it had to do with a billing issue.
Across other forums like AppGroove, customer reviews are overwhelmingly positive.
Customers appreciate the app’s sleek, user-friendly design, as well as its versatile features. They like the amount of content offered on the free version, and the fact they can chat with other members who may be experiencing similar situations or feelings.
Users say the guided meditations could be better, and they’d like more clarification on coaches’ credentials — but it’s worth noting the health and wellness coaching industry is unregulated.
The Sanvello app has 4.8 out of 5 stars on the App Store based on nearly 12,000 reviews, and 4.5 out of 5 stars on the Google Play Store from over 18,000 reviews.
How to sign up for Sanvello
You can sign up for Sanvello from your Apple or Android device.
- Download Sanvello from the App Store or Google Play Store.
- Choose Get Started to select your goals, set reminders and customize your home screen.
- Create an account by entering a username, email and password.
- Check out the free features, or upgrade to the premium version to access all features and schedule a teletherapy or coaching session.
When does my subscription renew?
Your monthly or annual subscription will automatically renew 24 hours before your membership is set to expire.
If you want to cancel or change your subscription, you’ll need to do that through Google Play or iTunes.
For Android devices:
- Open Google Play.
- Go to My Apps.
- Select Subscriptions > Sanvello to switch or cancel your membership.
For Apple devices:
- Open up Settings.
- Tap your name to get to the Apple ID page.
- Select Subscriptions > Sanvello to choose a different membership period or turn off autorenewal.