Recently, I attended a Mental Health First Aid training course. One of the activities my group completed was ranking different afflictions from least to most likely to affect daily life. These included physical conditions, like paraplegia, dementia, and asthma, as well as mental conditions like severe depression, PTSD, and moderate anxiety. We ended up devising this list: asthma, PTSD, moderate anxiety, paraplegia, severe depression and finally, dementia.
The point of the task was to show how poor mental health can be just as debilitating as poor physical health. Just because mental health may not be as visible doesn’t make it any less valid or real.
Presently, mental health is becoming more of an acknowledged and discussed topic. And that’s partly because we have improved resources and reduced stigma surrounding it, so more people feel comfortable coming forward with mental struggles. One way you can help improve your mental health is to use one of the easiest and most convenient resources for everyday people: apps. I have found several to be extremely useful, and decided to compile a list of some of the best. All of the apps are available to download on the App Store and on Google Play unless stated otherwise. If you don’t think some of them apply to you, still feel free to check them out.
So, in no particular order, here are the best 6 (free!) apps for mental health.
1. Brightmind: Meditation
Brightmind: Meditation walks beginners through the process of mindful meditation, which has been proven to reduce stress, control anxiety, enhance self-awareness, and improve sleep quality. The app claims that their meditation “isn’t always a quick fix, but it makes up for that by being a deep fix.” Brightmind: Meditation asks for your goals for meditation as well as your preferences for a guiding voice and the times you’d like to meditate. From there, the app customizes their core curriculum and provides you with packs that become more advanced as you practice more meditation.
Brightmind: Meditation offers different subscription packages for more meditation options. Unfortunately, it is also the only app on this list that isn’t available on Google Play.
Remente hopes to help you maintain focus, improve well-being, reach goals, reduce stress, and get the most out of life. You begin using Remente by creating an overview of your life through evaluating your satisfaction in areas like love and relationships, health and fitness, personal development, family, fun and recreation, career and education, and finances.
After Remente personalizes the app for your needs, it will work as your personal coach to give you guidance and help connect your goals to everyday life. Its features like journaling, creating a to-do list, updating your progress, and recording your mood help you to build good habits, learn valuable insights, and reflect on your behaviors and progress. And of course, all of the above features of Remente are free. If you’d like to unlock more of its advanced features, the app offers different subscription packages you can purchase.
3. Calm Harm
Calm Harm aims to prevent self-harm. The app compares the urge to self-harm to a wave, as it feels most powerful when you start wanting to do it. If you experience a desire to self-harm, the app helps you to “ride the wave” so that the urge will pass. In doing so, Calm Harm provides certain activity types like comfort, distract, express yourself, release, and breathe. Each activity type has plenty of options to choose from to “ride the wave.” One of the ‘comfort activities’, for example, is to cuddle someone or something; one of the ‘distract yourself’ activities is to count as many things you know that are yellow.
In addition to the activity types, Calm Harm allows you to choose the colors you prefer and whether you’d like the company of the cute animated figures “The Calms” or “Animals.” The app also offers the opportunity to make notes or create a journal to record your thoughts and feelings and revisit them later. And even if the struggle for self-harm isn’t something you’re dealing with, I’ve found the activity types, especially breathing, to be comforting on a particularly stressful day.
4. 7 Cups
7 Cups is a free, anonymous, confidential text chat with trained volunteer listeners. The app assures you that you’re entering a safe place full of caring people that you can turn to any time you feel lonely or are struggling. 7 Cups offers a chance to chat with a listener or therapist, have a one-on-one conversation, or have a group support chat for encouragement from the community. What I think makes 7 Cups so special is its anonymity factor. Many apps and text messaging services that serve a similar purpose require a phone number and sometimes even a name, so 7 Cups allows those who are afraid to share their identity an opportunity to talk to someone without having to worry about confidentiality.
StressScan uses your smartphone camera to assign you an objective Stress Index measurement that can help you track your stress levels over time. The app detects the changes in colors from the picture of your fingertip taken with the camera to observe pulse behavior. Then, using heart rate variability analysis (HRV) technology, it will analyze the results and assign a Stress Index value from 1 (most relaxed) to 100 (most stressed).
StressScan recommends measuring stress levels every day at around the same time, beginning with taking one stress measurement in the morning and another at night. However, you may want to take your results with a grain of salt. Different types of heart rate technology haven’t been tested and may not be completely accurate. Regardless, this app may be able to provide a range of where your stress level may be and help you to determine when you’re most stressed.
Sanvello is rated the number one app for stress, anxiety, and depression. The app is an “evidence-based solution created by psychologists that uses clinically validated techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)” according to its description. CBT is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on challenging and changing unhelpful thoughts and behaviors, as well as developing coping strategies that target specific problems. This type of psychotherapy has been proven to be especially effective for stress, anxiety, and depression.
Sanvello uses CBT among other techniques to guide you through immersive journeys. Its features like videos, audio exercises, and activities are designed to work together to help you learn how to feel happier. The app’s mood tracking, daily reminders, and health tracking tools allow you to monitor your emotions, see positive and negative influences, and create change. And if you’re interested in some of the more advanced options on Sanvello, you can purchase one of their subscription packages.
These apps are present to help those who are struggling with mental illness as well as just life. Our mind is a powerful thing, and it is incredibly important that we do everything we can to take care of it. After all, we do spend quite a lot of time in there.
Seek the advice of a mental health professional or other qualified health providers if you are concerned with your mental health. If you’re having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to talk to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area at any time. If you are located outside the United States, call your local emergency line immediately.
Featured image via Pixabay