If you’re looking for some additional help in addressing mental health needs, yet lack the time or resources to see a therapist in person, the answer could be in the palm of your hand. Many sophisticated smartphone apps have been developed to make it easy for users to get connected with professional therapists, addressing mental problems ranging from depression to eating disorders, general anxiety, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and more.
These apps offer more privacy and can remove the barriers to treatment for people who would otherwise not reach out for help. Individuals who may be concerned about confidentiality, or reluctant to admit to their mental health issues, can feel a sense of safety since they’re able to talk through their problems without the need to meet a therapist face-to-face.
Though user reviews claim these apps give them valuable support and guidance when struggling with mental health challenges, such digital tools can’t replace medical treatment or intervention. If you have a medical condition or health concern, or if you are having thoughts of self-harm, you should always consult a physician or a qualified healthcare professional. Note also that not all of these apps have peer-reviewed research to support their claims, so you should make your own assessment of what you find helpful.
Take a look below at our roundup of some popular mental health apps, and see if using one can help you feel better. Some of them are free of charge or free with additional costs, and others have reasonable charges.
Free, iOS and Android
MoodTools contains several different services aimed at supporting people with clinical depression, including analyzing thoughts and identifying negative thought patterns, performing energizing activities while tracking your mood before and after, and giving self-help guidelines. There’s also a video section presenting mood-boosting videos and enlightening TED talks.
Free, iOS and Android
Recovery Record supports recovery from eating disorders, including anorexia and binge eating disorders, and can also help those don’t have an eating disorder but have weight and body image concerns. The app allows you to keep a record of your meals, customize meal plans for a certain goal, keep a chart to show the changes, set reminders, and receive feedback updated in real-time.
USD 1.99, iOS
Worry Watch is designed to capture and reflect users’ trigger points for anxiety. The app allows you to record your anxieties, and analyze your thought patterns with the help of charts and statistics. The app sends you daily and weekly reminders based on the reflection of your thoughts and worries, to change your thinking patterns for the future. It works offline, with an internet connection only needed for newcomers to register and while using the iCloud sync. The app has been picked as one of the best apps for anxiety relief by medical website Healthline.
USD 35 per week, iOS, Android
BetterHelp is a service that matches users with counselors who can help with all sorts of issues, including depression, addiction, stress, anxiety, relationships, grief, self-esteem, and more. It’s a network connecting users registered on the platform with licensed therapists and counselors, as well as other users struggling with similar difficulties. The platform offers a free one-week trial before users make a commitment to match with a therapist, so it’s relatively low risk.
USD 12.99 per month, iOS and Android
Headspace is an app featuring techniques for mindfulness and meditation. You only need to spare a few minutes every day, as the app provides access to easy meditation skills, to help you feel relieved from stress and anxiety and achieve better sleep and focus. You can set a reminder on the app, to keep yourself motivated daily.
USD 49 per week, iOS 10.0 or later
Talkspace is a platform that connects users with over 1,000 professionally licensed therapists, and allows you to text message them anonymously and privately anytime, anywhere (as long as you have Wi-Fi). They offer services to individuals experiencing symptoms of stress, feeling depressed or having anxiety attacks, as well as couples looking for more positive feelings in their relationships. The app matches users with therapists based on a number of factors, determined by a questionnaire. Your therapist will check in with you on a regular basis, as necessary.
USD 3.99, iOS 10.0 or later
By helping you to track your moods, thoughts, and emotions over time, Moodnotes empowers you to learn about common thinking traps and how to avoid them by developing new, healthier perspectives, as well as reducing your distress and enhancing your self-awareness and sense of well-being.
USD 3.99, iOS
Taking deep and even breaths while focusing your mind on something else could really work to combat anxiety or when you’re going through a panic attack. Breathing Zone is designed to offer specific breathing exercises, accompanied by calming music. The app offers an optional voice function to guide you through a looping inhale and exhale practice which you can breathe along with, until you find a pace that you’re comfortable with.
Free, iOS 9.3 or later
Optimism is a mood-tracking app for people struggling with depression and bipolar disorder, as well as those looking to brighten their days. Users have space to record all the factors that affect their emotions, including the amount of caffeine or alcohol they consume daily, the length and quality of their sleep, and the exercise they’ve done. The app keeps a chart of their emotional state, to give users a visual understanding of how these factors affect their mental health. It also allows users to record potential triggers or occurrences which negatively affect their mental health. By constantly keeping tabs on their mood, users may learn to recognize key triggers and avoid depression or anxiety before they occur.
This post appeared in the beijingkids October 2018 Mental Health issue.
Photos: Apple App Store, Google Play Store, stylecaster.com