MENTAL HEALTH APPS: A WAY TO MANAGE MENTAL ILLNESS
The industry of mental health apps is gradually becoming one of the most important part of this new decade.
Mental health apps don’t only solve the issue of handling your mental illness alone but the issue of affordability and contact with others (removes the risk of getting infected with Covid-19). These reasonably-priced, or free, mental health apps offer a lot of resources that make therapeutic methods more accessible, portable, and cheap (compared to traditional treatment costs).
Mental/Behavioural health was once something not openly talked about, there was a time that whenever someone said the word ‘mental’ it meant madness. Some people still think of insanity when the phrase mental illness is mentioned but this is not as prevalent as it once was.
When it comes to mental illness, there are different conditions that a person could be suffering; insanity being one of them but not the only thing that could mean a person is mentally ill. Depression (of which there are different types of depression), anxiety, paranoia, the state of feeling suicidal, post-traumatic stress disorder, post-partum disorder, eating disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and the list goes on and on. These are a few of the different types of conditions that could affect a person’s mental health.
The world of health is evolving year by year and even with the provision of mental/behavioural clinics and therapists to cater to this need; it is still not enough in capacity to help the world of people suffering one mental illness or the other. Not in this world of COVID-19, where quarantine, lockdown and isolation from loved ones has made it more difficult for people to manage their mental health issues.
There are numerous mental health apps out there to cater to almost all types of mental illnesses. Even though this is a relatively new industry with little research and reviews, some mental health apps still stand out in the crowd and have been able to deliver on their promise.
While these mental health apps are not a replacement for in-person help, they can provide people who are suffering from one mental illness or the other with resources at the palm of their hands to help monitor triggering behaviours, and give instant access to support and sometimes treatment.
Talkspace Online Therapy
Talkspace is a very good app for people who cannot afford a therapist but still want to talk to one. It provides flexible plans that meet your needs and lifestyle; you can access therapy through live video, phone call or messaging. They offer services for Depression, Relationships, Anxiety & Stress, Parenting, LGBTQIA+ and many other mental health issues. Talkspace also partners with employers and schools to make mental healthcare more available and affordable to employees and students.
The vision of happify is to use cutting-edge science and innovative technology to empower individuals to lead happier, more fulfilling lives. With its psychologist-approved mood-training program, the Happify app can put you on track to being in a good mood. With the happify app, you can train your brain like a muscle in order to overcome negative thoughts, using games, gratitude prompts and activity suggestions.
MoodTools supports people with clinical depression by assisting their path to recovery. On moodtools, you can discover helpful videos that can improve your mood and behavior. You can also log and analyze your thoughts using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) principles. The app allows for a depression test to help you know the root of your negative thoughts and to also develop a suicide safety plan.
With 800,000 plus active users, Recovery Record is one of the best apps for people recovering from an eating disorder and seeking to develop a positive body image. This app helps you keep a record of the meals you eat and how they make you feel. You can also complete questionnaires that will help you track your progress over time. The app is easy to use, suitable for every type of eating disorder and can be used in all treatment settings.
Rise Up and Recover
Rise Up + Recover is also an eating disorder monitoring and management tool for Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating, and EDNOS. This app allows you to track your meals and how you feel when you eat them; you can also convert your progress into a PDF printout. Rise + Recover app will help you find support nearby or provide you with quick coping strategies on difficult days.
Created by the VA’s National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), PTSD Coach offers everything from a self-assessment for PTSD, to chances to find support, positive self-talk, and anger management. One of the best things about this app is that you can customize it to suit your own individual needs and preferences, and integrate your own contacts, photos, and even music into the app. If you are currently experiencing PTSD, this is an app you shouldn’t live without.
Breathe2Relax is an app that teaches a skill called “diaphragmatic breathing” to help you feel calmer. Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as “belly breathing,” is a common relaxation skill used in a variation of treatments for anxiety and PTSD. Created by the National Center for Telehealth and Technology, this app is great for stress management and it provides you the opportunity to learn how to relax into their body and be calm no matter what is going on in and around you. Breathe2Relax is free with no in-app purchases.
The Headspace app is a mindful and meditation app. You will learn the skills of mindfulness and meditation by using this app for just a few minutes per day. Although this app is not free you can gain access to a free Basics pack; a 10-day beginner’s course that guides you through the essentials of meditation and mindfulness. It’ll give you a solid foundation to build your practice before moving on to advanced packages. The app comes with a reminder to encourage you to keep practicing mindfulness and meditation every day.
With over 50 million downloads and 700,000 plus five-star reviews, the calm app has won numerous awards including the Apple’s App of the Year 2017 and Google Play Editor’s Choice 2018. It is now regarded as one of the best mental health apps available. Calm is great for people suffering sleep difficulty, anxiety and stress. It provides guided meditations, sleep stories, breathing programs, and relaxing music for the improvement of your total wellbeing.
Self-Help for Anxiety Management (SAM)
SAM is great for people who have issues with anxiety but don’t connect with the act of meditation. You will be encouraged to build your own 24-hour anxiety toolkit that will help you monitor your anxious thoughts and behavior over time. It will also help you learn different self-help techniques. You can use the SAM app’s “Social Cloud” feature to privately connect with other users in an online community for more support.
CBT Thought Record Diary
The main purpose of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is changing your emotions by recognising negative and destructive thinking patterns. You can use CBT Thought Record Diary to record your negative emotions, analyze flaws in your thinking pattern, and revaluate your thoughts/thought pattern. This is a great app for gradually changing the way you approach your anxiety triggers; thereby creating a more positive thinking pattern.
My3 was designed to help those plagued with suicidal thoughts stay safe. This app lets you customize your own personal safety plan by observing your warning signs and connecting you to helpful resources when you need them most. There is a button that puts you in direct contact 24/7 with a trained counselor from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline as well as a 911 alert. Furthermore, you can choose three people to contact when you are having thoughts of suicide.
What’s up is another app that uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) methods to help you cope with Depression, Anxiety, Stress, and more. There is a habit tracker that helps you monitor and maintain good habits, and break negative habits. This app has a “Get Grounded” page that contains over 100 different questions to identify what you’re feeling, and the “Thinking Patterns” page, which teaches you how to stop negative internal conversations with yourself.
Just like its name, Moodkit is an app that is designed to help you improve your mood. It provides you with over 200 different mood improvement activities. Developed by two clinical psychologists, MoodKit teaches you how to change the way you think, develop self-awareness and healthy mental and emotional attitudes. The journal feature is a great way to practice self-care by reflecting on the day, observe any destructive thoughts, and record how you overcame them.
Twenty-Four Hours a Day
Based on the 1954 best-selling book of the same name written by Richmond Walker. Twenty-Four Hours a Day offers 366 meditations from the book to help people in recovery from addiction focus on sobriety wherever they are. This app is free and has no in-app purchases.
Quit That! – Habit Tracker
Are you looking for a free app (with in-app purchases) to help you quit a counterproductive habit? Then this app is for you. Whether you’re looking to stop drinking alcohol, quit smoking, or stop taking drugs, it’s the perfect recovery tool to monitor your progress. You can track as many negative habits as you want and find out how long it’s been since you quit.
MindShift is one of the best mental health apps for teens and young adults suffering anxiety. Just like its name, this app focuses on helping you shift your mind from trying to avoid anxious feelings; instead, it hounds on the importance of changing how you think about anxiety. This app encouraged you to take charge of your life, ride out intense emotions, and face challenging situations head on. It is free with no in-app purchases.
This app is like an ultimate journal, personal diary and mood monitoring tool. It can track not only mood, but anything you like; sleep, medication, symptoms, stress, energy level and many more. Through the monitoring process in this app you will discover the causes of your ups and downs, and get to know yourself better.
Recommended by Psychologists, Therapists, and Social Workers. eMoods is a mood tracking app especially made for people with bipolar disorder.Throughout the day, you can track depressing and psychotic symptoms, elevated moods, mood dives, and give an indication of the severity of your symptoms. It is customizable and you can see your mood changes on a colour-coded monthly calendar and even export a monthly summary report to your doctor or therapist. With this app you can identify specific triggers and better understand your fluctuating mood.
The ultimate goal of PRIME is to motivate people with schizophrenia to improve their quality of life. Schizophrenia patients are prone to social isolation even when their illness has been treated. This is why the PRIME app, created by psychiatry professor Danielle Shlosser, connects people with schizophrenia to their peers. The app doesn’t only include social networking with your peers but it also has a goal setting feature focused on promoting wellbeing, and access to mental health motivational coaches to support you in improving your life. It also lets you track “challenge goals,” that is things that you would like to accomplish or improve about yourself. It is a wonderful app.
As the awareness of mental illnesses like depression and anxiety grows year by year, doctors, therapists and mental health experts have made mental health apps part of the tools they recommend to their patients. These apps are better suited for teenagers and youths suffering mental illness because they are more prone to triggers that the constant use of social media and technology can bring.
These apps are also appreciated by people with social anxiety and people who can’t handle or are unable to attend face to face therapy. As awesome as these apps are, they still cannot take the place of proper treatment from health professionals; they should only be used as an additional tool to foster and manage the recovery process.
If you are using any of these applications, comment below and let us know how it is going for you. In addition to using one of these apps, you can also use the 180 days self care program. It will change your life, especially if you are suffering from anxiety and depression. May your journey be full of happy and sustainable milestones. Be well my friends!