Gym for the mind: 6 apps aimed at improving your mental health
This type of help is cheap – sometimes even free – and it’s right there at your fingertips
There are thousands of mental health apps on your electronic device but we’ve narrowed down the list to just half a dozen
Mental health apps obviously should only form part of an overall treatment plan following a professional diagnosis, and not as an end in itself.
However, never before have we had such a cheap, practical, supportive, evidence-based and inspirational means to improve our physical, mental and emotional health – many times a day, every day – literally at our finger-tips.
We’ve narrowed down the list of mental health apps on your electronic device from thousands to just six.
Developed by the British Columbia Mental Health and Substance Use Services in Canada, MindShift helps teens and young adults cope with stress and anxiety by facing it. It not only sets out the symptoms, but offers strategies and exercises to “make sleep count”, ride out intense emotions, as well as learning how best to manage worry, panic, conflict, ordinary anxiety, test anxiety, social anxiety, and perfectionism. Cost: Free.
Produced by Anxiety UK, a patient group specialising in anxiety, this app provides you with audio tips from fellow anxiety sufferers on how best to manage anxiety and stress. Stress Tips also contains a useful DIY diagnosis section, developed in conjunction with British clinical psychologist Prof Adrian Wells. Cost: 77c.
The Mindfulness App
Good for beginners and experienced meditators alike, this app is designed to help people fit mindfulness meditation into their lives by offering guided meditation sessions. Newcomers are offered a five-day guided practice and introduction to mindfulness. As you progress, you can receive meditation reminders, or customise it with guided introduction and bells. Cost: One-month free access, after which you pay €9.99 each month.
“Marketed as a ‘gym membership for the mind’, this app encourages you to invest in your mental health just as you would in your physical health,” says Siobhán Murray, counsellor and psychotherapist at dublincounsellors.com. “Once you download the app you will be given a daily 10-minute guided mediation, after which you can access a wider choice of programmes that cover topics such as anxiety, depression and focus, which can be great for work, school and studying.” Cost: First 10 days free; €5.99 - €9.95 per month thereafter.
“WorryTime allows the user to write down their worries in the app as they pop into their mind,” says Murray. “As the user has a worry they tap the screen and enter the worry. At your self-selected time, each worry appears on the screen and the user is given different options; for example, if the worry no longer bothers them, they can scrunch them up and flick them away. This is a great app to get people into a new behavioural pattern.” Cost: Free.
Thought Record Diary
“The Thought Diary app is based on the principals of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT,” says Murray. “It uses an action-oriented approach to help users identify and change negative thoughts, feelings and behaviours, and is a really easy app to use.” Having entered in an issue, you attach an emotion to the issue and then enter your negative thoughts attached to it. The app prompts you to pick from a list of cognitive distortions which will help you challenge your negative thoughts, before entering an alternative thought to the issue. Cost: Free.