Mental health is a pressing issue that affects everyone yet is still stigmatized and misunderstood by many. Smartphone applications, or apps, provide an accessible, convenient way to take care of your mental health on a daily basis. I am not one to encourage more phone usage however I can’t ignore that for a lot of people it’s a preferred method of self-care and I will acknowledge there are some benefits to using your phone, but mainly it’s just so you don’t gather more “stuff”. In this post, we’ll look at some of the best mental health apps for people looking to manage their mental illnesses digitally.
Before we delve in there are some things that need to be taken into consideration before using apps as your primary source of self-care.
Somethings to be aware of:
You are more likely to drift and become distracted by social media and other sources of interest which could be harmful to your mental health
Spending increased time on apps could reduce your physical motivation to exercise, meditate, work or socialise.
Writing in a journal is therapy in itself. Apps do not allow you to physically release those thoughts.
Make sure you are using the correct app for you, some of the algorithms are designed for a specific mental illness.
The use of an app can provide some evidence of mental illness but if it is not a credited source, may not help in receiving treatment or diagnosis.
Do the work on yourself first. Apps are easily accessible, but that doesn't mean they are right for you. If you know you'll be distracted or know you need to be more physical then choose a source of self-care you will respond most positively to instead.
Apps should be used as additional support when required not in placement of clinical care or diagnosis. Sky News recently wrote about the increased use of Chatbots for mental health and the dangers of them, please be cautious about which applications and sites you use. You can read the full article here.
If you take your phone to most places, apps can be extremely handy supports, as long as you aren’t getting distracted by social media or gameplay. If you are using an app for your mental health it’s sometimes best to a lot a set amount of time each day only using that one app; either side is free time but just for that 15 minutes or just for that hour, you're dedicated to self-care.
There are some really beneficial apps out there, not only for general mental wellness practices but also educational or emergency apps for specific conditions.
You may also want to advise your family and friends to download these apps to get a better understanding of what your condition entails if you aren’t ready to communicate that vocally yet.
1. Headspace: Meditation and Mindfulness
Headspace is an app that is designed to induce calm in moments of stress. The app helps you learn mindfulness and meditation techniques, which is always a handy tool to have. This is a great aid if you are in a place or environment that you know will make you anxious. These short clips will put you in a better mindset when you feel overwhelmed.
2. SuperBetter: Mental Resilience
SuperBetter takes a slightly different tone from most mental health apps and uses gameplay and challenges to improve your self-esteem and confidence. You can play with friends, family or colleagues and help each other improve through motivation and competition.
3. Calm: Sleep and Relaxation
You might have seen Calm around for a while now. Designed initially to improve sleep and enhance relaxation prior to bedtime. Before starting you are asked what you'd like to achieve (better sleep) and a series of questions to personalise the plan to you.
5. MoodPath: Depression Screening
MoodPath is mostly used by teachers and educators to help as an initial screening program. This app helps them monitor the physical and mental changes of their pupils in a 2-week program, which can then be passed over to a medical professional or psychologist. By no stretch is this a replacement for a psychological review but it may help provide supporting evidence.
6. Stay Alive: Suicide Prevention
This app is free and offers help and support both to people with thoughts of suicide and to people concerned about someone else. It is packed with resources, emergency contact information as well as tools to increase positivity and grounding.
7. Sleep Cyle: Analyses your sleep and wakes you up in the lightest sleep phase
Focusing on sleep and restoration this app will create an algorithm based on the sounds you make while you sleep and help put a plan in place to suit your natural sleep cycle. For anyone who struggles with anxiety-induced insomnia or worries that keep them awake, this app is perfect for helping track when their anxiety is at its worst and gives them the ability to analyse why.
eMoods tracker app lets you easily chart your daily highs and lows, sleep and medications. Great for anyone who is in the process of mental health diagnosis or who regularly visits doctors or psychologists for their condition. This app allows you to monitor your stress levels and keep an accurate assessment of your emotional development.
9. PTSD Coach App:
PTSD Coach was designed for Veterans and military Servicemembers who have or may have, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This app provides users with education about PTSD, information about professional care, a self-assessment for PTSD, opportunities to find support, and tools that can help users manage the stresses of daily life with PTSD.
10. Breathe, Think and do with sesame street
Breath, Think, Do with Sesame is an interactive app that helps build resilience in young children by teaching skills such as problem-solving, self-control, planning, and task persistence. Children help a Sesame Street monster friend calm down and solve everyday challenges using the “Breathe, Think, Do” strategy.
Mental health apps provide an easy way to better manage your mental well-being. Far from being a substitute for clinical care, these apps can be used in conjunction with professional help to ensure you’re getting the best treatment for your mental health needs.
If you think you may need help for your mental health, don’t hesitate to talk to a friend, family member, or mental health professional. Reach out and take the steps to take control of your mental health.