Using Your Phone to Improve Your Mental Health: A Review of Popular Apps
While technology and media tends to screw us up in so many ways, we are also lucky to have it, and the access to the help and information it gives us. In addition to books on our phones, podcasts, and access to teletherapy, there are so many apps that focus on mental health.
Here are a few of our favorites and a little bit about what they are good for:
What's Up is a free app that aims to help with anxiety, depression, and stress using Cognitive Behavioral (CBT) and Acceptance Commitment (ACT) techniques to help learn coping skills. What’s Up helps users cope with depression, anxiety, anger and stress through therapy methods and tools like a diary and habit tracker to promote positive and reduce negative habits.
Quit That! Is a free app that tracks the habits you’re trying to quit, whether it be alcohol, sugar, video games, or anything else. It monitors your progress and shows accomplishments along the way, such as how much money you’ve saved in the process!
Calm is a popular app designed to reduce stress, anxiety and help with breathing, sleep, meditation, and relaxation. There are a variety of mediation options available so it’s good for both beginners and more experienced meditators. It was also named iPhone’s App of the Year in 2017.
Lantern is a mental health app that targets the individual’s needs through an assessment test covering body, mood, sleep, social life, and stress/anxiety. It then designs exercises for the specific strengths and weaknesses of the user. It’s not a free app, but it’s more tailored to you and your needs and you can cancel at any time.
Daylio is a great app for the person who wants to keep a journal but feels like it’s too much of a commitment or just doesn’t have the time. It’s a mini-diary of sorts that lets you jot down things from your day and keep track of your mood and emotions. You get a monthly mood chart to get a sense of the how you’ve been doing overall.
Headspace is another popular app that encourages using mindfulness and meditation to promote a happier you. There are hundreds of meditations to choose from and it encourages use for even a few minutes a day.
Pacifica helps with tools such as mindfulness, meditation, mood tracking, and CBT. It provides a supportive community of users who are dealing with similar things to help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. It helps set small challenges to overcome things one day at a time to achieve your long-term goals.
Happify is a free app that was created to help overcome negative thoughts and improve mood. It uses CBT, positive psychology, and mindfulness to break negative patterns of thinking and create more positive, healthy ones. Based on your exercises, the app provides a happiness score that you can improve upon each week.
We see these apps not as a replacement for therapy, but as a supplement. The work that is done in face-to-face weekly psychotherapy cannot be replaced by the apps, not even by apps that provide contact with therapists, but they are good for those who can’t get to therapy as often as they’d like, or to use in between sessions.