By Andrew Lopez
Mental health challenges can be overwhelming for many individuals even when their receiving the benefits of medication and work with mental health professionals. While mental health services in medications help greatly utilizing natural supports and self-care methods is an essential part of recovery for many individuals. Self-care can be very tricky though and varies greatly from person-to-person. A lot of people have a hard time deciding what self-care to use or have a hard time staying consistent with self-care practices. With these challenges in mind a number of app developers have created apps intended to aid individuals who require a little bit of assistance using self-care for the recovery. With more and more people using smart devices such as phones and tablets having these apps to assist with self-care enables them to utilize the power of the technology for their recovery. Most people nowadays carry a phone with them always and this enables individuals to carry their self-care tools with them at all times. It also is a discreet way of receiving this information as it is not on for people to be staring at their phones even for long periods of time. This greatly reduces anxiety people experience over the stigma of using these tools public. While there are great many apps that have been developed for mental health purposes the following is a list of apps we have tried and found to be helpful in many situations.
WRAP App (Wellness recovery Action Plan)
After using the wrap workbook for number of years I was excited to find out when this app was available so that I an easy way of taking my WRAP with me wherever I go. This app enables you to generate a plan to maintain wellness, stay on track with life goals, create organization planning on day-to-day activities, identify barriers and challenges and remind you of support and self-care methods. The app is $5 and is the only one on this list that requires payment.
7 cups: Anxiety & Stress Chat
7 cups is an app that enables you to talk with real life people who are volunteers that have a minimal training on listening and privacy. These volunteers are not therapist’s and the service that the app provides is not intended to replace therapy. Instead this app provides support from peers and a listening ear for times where an individual is not in heavy crisis and not need of professional help. I found this to be very helpful for the times where I could use support in between professional sessions. People can choose to become volunteers on this app as well. This app is free but it also offers a subscription that gives you additional tools for planning and skill building. There is also an option to communicate with her therapist over the app $150 a month. I have not tried the therapy version of this and do not have enough information about it recommend it or not.
Subscription info: https://www.7cups.com/backus/upgrade7cups.php
T2 Mood Tracker
I’ve used the T2 mood tracker more than any other mental health app and a been using it for at least 5 years. The app is very simple and easy to use an old enables you to track your mood and mental health symptoms quickly and easily. I find that it’s easier to have conversations with therapist and psychiatrists over what has happened over the week and tracking my mental health symptoms by using this app. By taking a quick survey that takes about 20 seconds your able to quickly record and tracked your symptoms and mood. The app enables you to track on a chart changes over time. You can also put in individual notes when you want to put in more information about that point in time. All of this information can be shared with a therapist or other mental health provider quickly and easily. The only trick is remembering to use it and use it often which can take some practice.
Headspace: Meditation & Mindfulness
I’ve only had a little bit of experience working with headspace but I found it to be pretty helpful and a powerful tool. I found it effective way of performing self-care and working on goals. I find that in moments of great stress and crisis it can be hard to remember and practice good self-care but apps like this have been very helpful. This app is chock-full of helpful tools for keeping track of symptoms and working on specific goals.
This may be the most creative mental health app I’ve ever seen. The designers created this app with the mentality that people tend to use apps more often and consistently if they’re having fun much like playing game. This app turns self-care practices and symptom tracking into a game giving you points and conquering enemies. I urge people to give this one a try if they are into any type of mobile games. Below is a description from the developer on living Gamefully.
“To Live Gamefully means bringing the same mindset and psychological strengths naturally displayed when playing games – such as optimism, creativity, courage, and determination – to real life. It means having the courage and openness to try different strategies to discover what works best. It means collaborating with allies, and building up the resilience to tackle tougher and tougher challenges with greater and greater success.”
While I don’t have PTSD myself, I’ve taken a look at this app and found it to be very well organized and pragmatic. Here’s a description given by the developer:
“PTSD Coach was designed for Veterans and military Servicemembers who have, or may have, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This app provides users with education about PTSD, information about professional care, a self-assessment for PTSD, opportunities to find support, and tools that can help users manage the stresses of daily life with PTSD. Tools range from relaxation skills and positive self-talk to anger management and other common self-help strategies. Users can customize tools based on their preferences and can integrate their own contacts, photos, and music. This app can be used by people who are in treatment as well as those who are not. PTSD Coach was created by VA’s National Center for PTSD and DoD’s National Center for Telehealth & Technology.”
Youper – Emotional Health
Youper is another mental health app with a very unique design. For those of you that use digital assistants to help organize and manage your life and half like this may feel very intuitive and easy-to-use. This app creates what it calls and emotional health Assistant which is a bot that has a conversation with you to talk about symptoms and symptom management. Users should be aware that they’re not talking with the real person and that suggestions made by the program are designed to be very general and nonspecific. That being said I found using the out to be easy and very helpful.
Coloring book for adults
Mental health symptoms can be managed a number of ways. A summary who lives with anxiety I find that participating in activities that focus my mind can be a good way of coping with symptoms. The coloring book for adults app I find to be useful for coping with my anxiety symptoms and refocusing my mind. This app is simple and easy-to-use and can be used as a mental health app or just for fun. In my experience using more physical medium is a little bit more effective as a mental health tool but the portability of this app makes it extremely useful and pragmatic in situations where you might not be able to carry paints or other art supplies.