Mental Health Month: Mental Health Apps
There’s an App for That: Downloads to Deep-Six Stress
It seems like there’s pretty much an app for everything. Even for elevating one’s mental health. While tapping on your phone isn’t really a replacement for a sit-down with a therapist, there are downloads that can serve as a vessel to pour some of our anxieties and sorrows into.
Some apps include self-tests. Others have fear trackers. Still others have how-tos on cutting stress.
There are many mental health apps available. Some are developed by therapists, and others … not so much. But here is a small sampler of free downloads (many of us are pinching pennies in the wake of COVID-19, after all) that might provide some portable and pocket-sized therapy.
And please, keep in mind: none of these are meant to serve as a replacement for professional help or medication, but they might make fine supplements as mental health helpers.
Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
AnxietyCoach. Mayo Clinic. Free. iPhone only.
This self-help tool is designed to help reduce a number of anxiety triggers, including specific fears, panic attacks, and more. Designed by two clinical psychologists, the app incorporates elements of cognitive behavioral therapy to help people work through issues. Self-tests, hundreds of stress-busting activities, anxiety trackers, and more are included.
Breathe2Relax. National Center for Telehealth & Technology. Free. Apple and Google Play.
This app was developed by the Department of Defense, and it offers how-tos and breathing exercises to reduce stress and overcome anxiety. It includes instructional videos and audio coaching, and it allows users to track their progress.
Happify. Free. In-app purchases. Apple and Google Play.
This app offers science-based activities and games. The goal is to use them to help overcome stress and negative emotions. The developers say they’ve focused on positive psychology, mindfulness, and cognitive behavioral therapy. It offers quizzes to assess one’s mood and games to work on positive thinking. It’s not a substitute for a therapist, but it offers some food for thought and can be a pleasing distraction
MindShift CBT. Free. Apple and Google Play.
This app aims to help people cut back on anxiety by offering tools to work on worries, panic, perfectionism, social anxiety, and more. It has some cognitive behavioral therapy in its DNA, and offers users tools to curb stress, journal their thoughts and feelings, ways to challenge themselves, track moods, set goals, and develop healthy habits.
MoodTools. Free. In-app purchases. Apple and Google Play.
This app is primarily focused on depression. It offers questions to suss out the severity of symptoms, lets users keep a thought diary (and work on identifying negative thought patterns), and helps people develop a safety plan. The latter allows the user to make lists of thinking points, including reasons to live, coping strategies, emergency contacts in case of a crisis, and more.
Sanvello. Free. In-app purchases. Apple and Google Play.
This popular app uses the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy to help those struggling through stress, anxiety, and depression. It’s worth noting that during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sanvello has automatically been upgrading all users to its premium level, for free. (Premium otherwise may be covered by insurance.) It focuses on a four-pronged approach: self-care, peer support, coaching, and therapy.
T2 Mood Tracker. National Center for Telehealth & Technology. Free. Apple and Google Play.
Users can track their moods on this app. It focuses on six conditions: anxiety, stress, depression, brain injuries, PTSD, and general well-being. Preloaded scales can be used as-is or customized to track moods. Over time, the user will be able to view a visual record of their progress. People can also keep a diary and share their progress with a therapist, if desired.
During pandemics and other concerns, with these apps and others, mental health assistance may be as close as a tap away.
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