Last Edited:

11/17/2021

5 Mental Health Apps for Veterans

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) serves nearly 9 million veterans every year. Not all veterans are eligible for VA care, either. 

Mental health conditions are the third most frequently diagnosed conditions at the VA, both for men and women. Nearly one in four active service members has a mental health condition.

There’s also a high demand for help, too. Not everyone who needs mental health care gets it, or can easily access it. 

Mobile technologies, specifically apps, can be a useful tool for a veteran or service member who needs a mental health assist and can’t access it quickly or often enough. Apps can also help with specific issues like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or anger management. Because 77% of the U.S. population uses smartphones (and 82% of active duty service members) they can be especially handy.

Below are some top apps to help veterans (and others) with mental health needs. (They’re not a cure, but can be valuable tools.) They’re designed to be user friendly, and many can help reduce mental health woes, either used independently or as a supplement to traditional treatment. 

PTSD Coach

Free. iOS and Android.

PTSD Coach is for veterans and service members who have or might have PTSD. The app 

  • Educates users about PTSD
  • Informs about reliable treatment options
  • Offers a self-assessment test
  • Has tools to help manage PTSD (including relaxation skills and self-help)

Users have found it helps not only with PTSD, but also with depression and improving interpersonal functioning.

Mindfulness Coach

Free. iOS and Android.

Mindfulness means paying attention and remaining in the moment, without judging or overanalyzing it. It’s not meant to be rushed. The practice can help reduce stress and anxiety, ease depression, and even curb chronic pain.

The Mindfulness Coach app includes:

  • Information about mindfulness (including its benefits)
  • Mindfulness exercises you can do solo or with guidance
  • Tips for getting into the mindfulness mindset
  • A log to track progress

AIMS for Anger Management 

Free. iOS and Android. 

AIMS is based on the VA online course Anger and Irritability Management Skills, and was created to work in conjunction with the class. The app is designed for veterans and service members, but anyone with anger problems can use it. 

Features include

  • A personalized plan for controlling anger
  • Interactive tools for preventing or managing irritation
  • Customizable tools
  • Symptom tracker with feedback
  • Quick access to the Veterans’ Crisis Line and 911

VetChange

Free. iOS and Android.

Because some veterans and service members turn to alcohol as a way to self-medicate stress, insomnia, and other issues that result from PTSD, VetChange was designed to help manage trauma and problematic drinking. 

The app helps users 

  • Set personal goals to reduce or stop drinking
  • Track progress
  • Remain motivated
  • See the link between alcohol and PTSD
  • Learn ways to handle emotions without drinking
  • With resources to get help in a crisis

VetChange isn’t only for veterans and service members; civilians can download and use it, too.

Beyond MST

Free. iOS and Android.

Beyond MST was designed for survivors of military sexual trauma (MST). That includes both sexual assault and sexual harassment experienced during military duty. The problem is far from rare: It’s estimated that approximately 20,000 members of the U.S. military are sexually assaulted every year, affecting all genders and backgrounds. 

The app

  • Teaches about challenges MST survivors may face
  • Offers resources that may help
  • Contains tools to cope with stress and improve quality of life
  • Provides assessment tests to show the link between symptoms and world views
  • Has a recovery progress tracker

The VA also has links to apps both for self-help and ones that can serve as companions to treatment. 

Sources

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov – Department of Veterans Affairs Mental Health Services: Need, Usage, and Access and Barriers to Care

nami.org – Veterans & Active Duty

sunshinebehavioralhealth.com – 5 Mindfulness Tips for Veterans

pbs.org – 100% of military sexual assault survivors feel ‘trapped,’ have suicidal ideations

ptsd.va.gov – VA Mobile Apps

Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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