A personal story…
At the beginning of this year, my father passed away. It was a devastating time. I remember wondering how I would ever make it through those tumultuous days after his death, when the world seemed to move around me in a blur. My mind went blank. Thinking was an impossible task, much less functioning normally. I lost my job, and on top of that, I broke up with my boyfriend at the time, who I found out had been cheating. Fun times. I knew I needed help. Like professional help. But, I found it difficult to get myself to a therapist’s office. That’s when I started researching mental health apps and online resources.
Online mental health resources
There have been some interesting and, frankly, rather exciting technological developments in the mental health industry. Things like digital diaries and mood trackers, therapy-over-text services, online discussion forums, and mediation and relaxation apps. Not everyone will find these apps helpful, and none of these online resources should be used to substitute for clinical or therapeutic modalities. In the wake of the recent deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, it is critical that we continue the cultural dialogue about depression and mental health to encourage people to seek help.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255). It’s always open for you to speak to a trained counselor. In case of an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.
Having said that, here are some of the best mental health apps on the market to help make finding mental health resources easier. Online therapy, or e-therapy, is a key feature of some of these resources. E-Therapy is mental health counseling provided via the Internet and is conducted over text, video chat, voice messaging, or audio messaging. Some of the resources below proved instrumental in helping me cope with my own personal loss. Hopefully, you find them useful as well.
Calm, named the Best App of 2017 by the Apple App Store, is a meditation and sleep app that teaches you how to meditate and relax your mind and body using breathing exercises. Additionally, the app features Sleep Stories, pre-recorded short stories for adults, to help users unwind and fall into a deep, natural sleep. The app is free to download on Android and iPhone.
Headspace offers themed meditation sessions, much like Calm, focusing on everything from stress to getting a better night’s sleep. There are also short meditation sessions available for people on the go as well as emergency exercises in case of urgent needs. The app teaches you how to meditate within the context of different life circumstances, including work, school, sports, and other situations. The app is free to download on Android and iPhone.
SuperBetter is a game aimed at helping you stay motivated and optimistic in the face of difficult life challenges. The game challenges are fun and achievable and help you to adopt new habits, improve skills, strengthen relationships, finish projects, and achieve goals. The app is even touted to be able to help deal with depression, anxiety, cope with chronic illness, and recover from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is free to download on Android and iPhone.
7 Cups is an online therapy app in which users connect with people for text chat and online therapy and counseling. The service is free, anonymous, and confidential. Trained listeners, online therapists, and counselors are available. Users can seek out listeners based on life experience or affiliation (such as experience with bullying, panic attacks, eating disorders, breakups, etc. They can find affordable therapy services, and they can chat with other supportive users in the community section. The app is free to download on Android and iPhone.
Talkspace is an online therapy app that matches you up with a licensed therapist to help you with depression, anxiety, LGBT issues, and other life challenges. Users communicate with their therapist on almost any device, including laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Conversations can carry over across devices, and the app uses banking-grade encryption to protect your privacy and confidentiality. Plans start at only $49 per week. This is ideal for people who, for whatever reason, find it difficult to travel to a therapist’s office or to pay the costs associated with traditional therapy. The app is free to download on Android and iPhone.
It’s important for people to understand that help is always available. In this digital age, there is no shortage of resources out there for people to turn to for help. These are just a few of the online resources that are out there. There are plenty of others out there. Again, hopefully, you find these helpful. Take care of yourself.