I am frequently asked by clients if any apps that can be accessed by their phones would be a good option for them. My immediate response is Yes! Technology is here whether we like it or not and certainly the young population is freaky fast at using it. So I believe any form of support and help my clients can access is a plus.
As the prevalence of mental illnesses like depression and anxiety continues to grow, we have turned to mobile applications as tools for aiding our client’s treatment. These apps can be especially helpful for teenagers and young adults suffering from mental illness.
The apps can be helpful as a way to engage people who may be unwilling or unable to attend face-to-face therapy, and they can also provide support between sessions. These apps will work best when used in conjunction with medication and / or in-person therapy. Here are a few apps that can be used to help improve your mental health.
- Anxiety Reliever–is an app that enables users to track anxiety symptoms and provides relaxation exercises. A limited version of the app is available for free and the full app can be bought.
- Anxiety Coach–is a self-help app that addresses fears and worries using CBT strategies. The app walks you through making a list of feared activities and helps you master them, leading to less fear and worry. The app includes tools for a severity self-test, making a plan, anxiety tracking, and viewing your progress.
- Breathe2Relax–a simple and intuitive app designed to teach breathing techniques to manage stress. The skills taught can be applied to those with anxiety disorders, stress, and PTSD.
- CPT Coach–designed to be used in connection with CPT (Cognitive Processing Therapy). This app offers education about PTSD symptoms and a step-by-step, session-by-session approach to following the assessments that correspond with weekly CPT treatment.
- Happify–is a self-guided app that aims to increase positive emotions through exercises and games. An initial questionnaire is used to suggest “tracks” for an individual’s use, and subsequent activity content is geared towards various issues such as reducing worry, building relationships, increasing fitness, or coping with chronic
- Headspace–Targeted to individuals who want to learn meditation to reduce anxiety and stress and improve their attention and awareness. Skills taught include mindfulness and cognitive diffusion, breathing exercises, meditation practice, tips for increased relaxation and concentration.
- iCBT–this app prompts uses to identify negative thoughts, rate their negative feelings, and identify cognitive
- MindShift–targeted to help adolescents, teens, and young adults gain insight into basic skills to manage their symptoms of anxiety disorders, social anxiety, specific phobias, and panic attacks. Also helpful with managing worry, performance anxiety, test anxiety, and perfectionism.
- MoodKit–this app will help people with depression, anxiety, anger management issues. Skills taught include self-monitoring, identifying and changing unhealthy thought patterns, and engaging in mood-enhancing activities.
- MoodTools–is a self-help app targeting depression. It provides psychoeducation about risk factors and psychosocial approaches to treatment, a depression symptom questionnaire, a thought diary, a suicide safety plan, and videos on meditation.
- Pacifica–this app teaches deep breathing, behavioral exercises, identifying cognitive distortions, and learning how to replace them with positive thinking patterns.
- Panic Relief–easy-to-use coping tools to better manage and move through panic attacks.
- PTSD Coach–it does a great job of education, assessing PTSD, and offering easy to understand tips to manage common PTSD symptoms, and finding additional treatment resources.
- Self-Help Anxiety Management–an app to help understand what causes anxiety, monitor your anxious thoughts and behavior over time, and manage them through self-help exercises and reflection.
- Relax Melodies–a popular relaxation sound and music app. Mix and match nature sounds with new age music.
- BellyBio–an app that teaches a deep breathing technique useful in fighting anxiety and stress. Biofeedback is used to monitor your breathing. A great tool when you need to slow down and breathe.
- Operation Reach Out–an app that helps people who are having suicidal thoughts to reassess their thinking and get help. Developed by the military but helpful to all.
- DBT Diary Card and Skills Coach–based on Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) app is a great source of self-help skills, reminders of the therapy principles, and coaching tools for coping. This app helps people reinforce their treatment with a therapist.
- Optimism–track your moods, keep a journal, and chart your recovery process with this app for depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorders.
- isleepEasy–a calm female voice helps you reduce anxieties and take time to relax and sleep, in an array of guided meditations. Separately controlled voice and music tracks, flexible lengths, and an alarm.
With so many apps on the market, it’s hard to know which are useful. Take some time and review the apps that pertain to you. Taking a stake in your mental health is taking a step in empowering you – so don’t wait!
Lisa Gray MSW, LCSW
Lisa M Gray