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I am one of those people who find mindfulness and relaxation apps very useful. Not only to keep me focussed on the present, but also to help me quieten my mind before I go to sleep at night. I enjoy listening to guided meditations and nature sounds (like rain or waves washing up on the shore) are great for creating a calm and relaxing atmosphere.
With the Covid pandemic highlighting the difficulty many people face in accessing mental health care, I am aware that there are a number of apps available that help you track changes in your mood, identify concerns, and provide you with advice if you are experiencing symptoms of mental illnesses such as anxiety or depression.
With people already using apps to track their daily activity, eating habits, and general health and wellbeing, I am curious to hear what others think about apps that help people manage their mental health and provide them with tips and advice to improve their mental well-being.
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As a psychologist I think there are some positives to using mental health apps but also some dangers.
Definitely for some people these apps provide great strategies like breathing, mood tracking and other fundamentals that link with cognitive behaviour therapy and mindfulness approaches. For some people however, mental health apps may not provide enough and cannot substitute a supportive therapeutic interaction with a human.
It is great that many of these apps link to Telehealth supports or contact numbers particularly in the case of suicide risk.
A pertinent question, specially in current scenario where our cell phones have many apps to help us organize our daily schedules, keep a track of our calories & water intake and to count our footsteps.
Utility and authenticity of apps depends on the type of services you can access through them. There are certain apps that can connect you to qualified and trained professionals based on your requirements e.g. teen counseling or family therapy. Through these apps you can get support from a specialized mental health professional from convenience of your home. Such apps have helped people even during worst lockdown days of pandemic. I am a big YES for such apps.
Many people avoid talking about their mental health issues. I think access to online therapy platforms can help them open up about their mental health issues and reach out to qualified professionals without revealing their true identity.
BUT we need to be cautious while using mental health support apps. No doubt these apps can be a good support in meditation, online counselling sessions, deep breathing exercise etc. but CANNOT be a substitute to treatment required for chronic and severe mental health issues.
After completing an emotional wellbeing training and development session, it was recommended that Apps can be hugely beneficial for a number of reasons. One of the suggestions for me personally was to try vagal breathing and this is something i find really hard but there are Apps that are great for helping you with it. I have found the App 'Calm' to be great for breathing exercises as well as other mindfulness exercises.
There are so many Apps to choose from but even ones such as 'my fitness pal' have been great for my overall wellbeing since mental and physical health are so closely connected.
I have utilized a couple of different mental health apps, including:
MindSpa, HealthSpace, Thrive, and PTSD Coach.
I'm not opposed to trying others which are available, but I've not found the ones I have tried very useful, and here's why.
It's just one more thing to add to my to-do list each day, and I feel guilty if I miss a day.
The prompts and wellness tips are very basic, and do not address deeper issues.
The ability to schedule reminders is not very user-friendly, especially in those apps which want you to be engaging each day. It is hard to tailor the app abilities to work in an instant for trigger moments.
There are too many options available to choose from in the meditation portions of the app. Less is more when you are trying to heal, and having to scroll through an endless list of possibilities, without being able to filter based on need, is frustrating.
I feel there is the perfect app out there for those who need daily mental health support, I just haven't found it yet. For now, my best mental health comes from getting outside and getting out of my own head, then once it's clearer, I journal my thoughts and cognitively analyze them.
I think that this is a fantastic idea!
Do any of the current health apps include mental health? I assumed that they would.
If not, this is a niche that is sorely needed by young and old. Our mental health has deteriorated during the pandemic, and many are looking for help dealing with depression and substance abuse in any way that they can that is convenient and inexpensive.
Mental telehealth has taken off like no other in the health industry. If someone suffering from anxiety or other emotional problems could have psychological and well-being aid at their fingertips, this assistance could be revolutionary for them.