Mental Health Apps
Smartphones are changing the way people approach mental health. Apps can be helpful for people who may be unwilling or unable to attend face-to-face treatment and they can also provide support in between sessions. Whilst these apps can be useful, they are not a replacement for seeking medical advice
Since so many of us use our smartphone constantly (average checks,150 times a day) it can be worthwhile to store your wellbeing progress in something that is such a part of daily life. Lots of people working in your company could benefit by trying out mental health apps in their daily lives, from managing your general wellbeing to those for more specific health concerns. You can open your mental health app of choice whenever certain thoughts and feelings arise and engage in an App exercise to help you feel better.
90% report increased confidence by using App coping strategies that really do work. Make sure that the mental health app is based on evidence-based methods. Whilst many apps are free to download, be aware of potential in-app purchases. I am not able to recommend individual Apps, but here are four popular examples:
Breathe2Relax App allows you to enter mood information, rate how well the intervention worked then get customised feedback. Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as "belly breathing," is a common relaxation skill utilised in a variety of treatments, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, for anxiety and PTSD. The app allows you to set the pace of the breathing exercise that is comfortable for you and for inhaling and exhaling. It can also change the number of practice breathing cycles. Before and after each practice session, the app prompts you to record your stress level on a visual scale by simply swiping a small bar to the left or to the right. Graphs show changes in your self-reported stress levels.
Breathe2Relax is free to download from the App Store or Google Play.
Calm App is a meditation, sleep and relaxation app, available in the App Store and Google Play store. Open the Calm app and you'll immediately be greeted with the gentle sound of the outdoors. Learn the life-changing skill of meditation. Get more restful sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. Video lessons on mindful movement and gentle stretching. You can pick from exclusive music tracks engineered to help you focus, relax or sleep.
The Calm app is free to download and some free content is available. https://www.calm.com
CBT Thought Diary App helps to identify your mood, log trends and replace negative thoughts with more healthful ones. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps you change your unhelpful emotions by identifying negative and distorted thinking patterns. You can use CBT Thought Record Diary to document negative emotions, analyse flaws in your thinking, and reevaluate your thoughts. The App can be used gradually over time at your own pace. It can flexibly positively change your approach to anxiety-inducing situations and your thinking patterns for future situations.
- Moods - Check in with your moods and track them over time.
- Cognitive Distortions - Identify common negative thinking patterns in your thoughts.
- Feel Better - Challenge and reframe your thoughts to increase your happiness and well-being.
There are free and paid versions of CBT Thought Diary, which people can download from the App Store or Google Play.
The free distrACT app gives you easy, quick and discreet access to information and advice about self-harm and suicidal thoughts. Suicidal thoughts are common and are warning signs of poor mental health. The content has been created by doctors and experts in self-harming and suicide prevention. This app offers complete privacy and can be used offline to:
- find out about self-harm and suicidal thoughts
- discover self-help techniques and safer alternatives to self-harms
- explore the 'chill-zone' with links to resources that can make you feel better, such as films, books and online videos
- access details about available services and support - all in one place
- know what do do in a crisis or emergency
Any organisation can use the distrACT app as a resource to:
- provide reassuring information about self-harm and suicidal thoughts
- signpost available services and support - all in one place
- make emergency contact details more easily available
- enable people to choose services wisely so they can get the right care first time - especially when in a crisis
- give people who feel suicidal access to information that aims to reduce the risk of them taking their own lives
You can feel safe and secure because no sign-up is required, and the app does not collect any personal data.
Another part of the appeal of smartphone-based apps is their anonymity. The apps also allow for privacy and confidentiality and can be a safe space for individuals who may be too ashamed to admit their mental health issues in person or who may feel that they will be negatively labeled or stigmatized by others. (Photo by Jaroslav Devia on Unsplash)