Our world is already fast paced and it won’t be slowing down anytime soon. Our phones ding, beep, or vibrate what seems like every 30 seconds, alerting us of a calendar event, email, or text. The news cycle is constant, thanks to 24 hour news channels and our very own social media, often leaving us feeling overloaded with information and stressed out.
What we all need is a good dose of mental health brought to you by the best mobile apps around and we focused on finding some pretty diverse ones for this list. It’s important to remember that mental health can come in many forms and from many places. Sometimes we don’t realize how heavily something is weighing on us until it’s alleviated and it feels as though a huge weight has been lifted from our shoulders.
We’re sure you’ll find an app here that will help your day go more smoothly and your evening feel more peaceful. So without further ado, let’s dive into the seven best mobile apps for mental health.
Stop, Breathe & Think
We talked about this app a while back, but it cannot be ignored on a list of best mobile apps for mental health. Stop, Breathe & Think asks users to take just five minutes a day to check in with yourself to determine what you’re thinking and how you’re feeling. The app then guides you through a brief meditation catered to how you’re doing that day. If you’re feeling a bit negative or frustrated at work, perhaps a corrective “gratitude” meditation is what you need to turn your day around.
SBT caught on quickly and is still gaining popularity, recently clocking its seven millionth emotional check-in. Users say the app helps them reframe their state of mind and disconnect from the chaos of life. With meditation themes ranging from kindness, to compassion, to forgiving yourself, we think there’s no better way to improve your mental health. We could all stand to dedicate a few minutes to ourselves every day.
T2 Mood Tracker
The National Center for Telehealth and Technology developed the T2 Mood Tracker to allow people living with mental health disorders to track their moods. Doing so can not only help users to determine patterns, but it can give insight to health professionals that can alter the course of treatment in a positive way.
Natasha Tracy, mental health speaker, writer and bipolar disorder expert, says this is the best mobile app for mental health she’s ever come across. She likes that the mood tracking is more granular than most apps normally offer. “For example,” she poses, “if I asked you what your mood is today and you said “6”, what would that mean? A “6” for happiness? For anxiety? For stress? For fatigue?”
The T2 Mood Tracker breaks one’s mood into six different components: anxiety, depression, general well-being, head injury, post-traumatic stress, and stress. Users can indicate which component they’re experiencing that day and then the app creates charts and graphs for you. There’s also a “notes” section so users can indicate any changes in treatment or medication, as well as daily events that occurred. Tracy likes that these features can help users identify triggers, “which is critical in both functioning and improving future moods.”
Whether you’re trying to manage depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, we think this is one of the best mobile apps for allowing users to learn more about their conditions by observing their own moods and behaviors. Mental health issues are very complex and sometimes quite difficult to manage, but apps like the T2 Mood Tracker can lend a helping hand.
The BetterHelp Online Counseling App matches people with licensed mental health professionals best suited to each user’s individual needs in a safe and private mobile environment. The creators are especially proud of the fact that this method helps reach underserved populations who might otherwise not have access to therapy — and in our book, that fact alone makes BetterHelp one of the best mobile apps for mental health, hands down.
For the cost of a monthly subscription (oftentimes cheaper than the cost of a typical therapy session), users have unlimited access to their therapists. Insurance is not necessary, although if users wish to use coverage, they should check with their insurance company first to make sure BetterHelp is covered (it’s very possible they won’t be considered “in-network”).
If the concept of online counseling seems difficult to grasp, check out this recent study by the University of California, Berkeley that found users of BetterHelp “experienced a significant reduction in depression symptoms” during the time they used the app. In this digital world, it only makes sense that the mental health industry would be expanding this way and we’re happy to see it.
Anyone who has trouble sleeping knows how it affects their mental health — and quickly. Oftentimes, people who struggle with anxiety have trouble sleeping, which causes them to have increased anxiety over the fact that they’re tired. The makers of Thync know this all too well and have developed a wearable plus mobile app combination that helps calm people down when they head for bed at night, which helps them get more restful sleep.
Thync aims to allow people to get better sleep without the use of prescription drugs, which oftentime have side effects. Instead, their wearable uses a very low powered “neurostimulation technology” developed by neuroscientists at MIT, Harvard, and Stanford and was tested over a period of five years to ensure safety and effectiveness.
Thync is even backed by Dr. Eric Potterat, former Head Psychologist for the Navy SEALs, who is undoubtedly an expert in stress management. According to user reports, people have “experienced improvement with everything from PTSD to fibromyalgia to psoriasis” by using the Thync Relax Pro wearable.
Poor sleep affects so many parts of our lives, but stress and anxiety are big ones. We’re more than happy to try any mobile app that claims to solve this problem for us.
Cook + Cure
In America, we’re not the best with nutrition. We’re often overloaded with fast food options that are admittedly, more convenient than cooking — but are not nearly as healthy. As a result, gourmet food preparation kits are selling like mad and we’re finally getting to a point where these options are becoming more specific for niche markets. We’re seeing some that cater to vegan needs, food allergies, and now, health issues and mental disorders.
Scientists are doing more and more research into how food affects our well-being. Sure, food can cause us to be overweight, but imbalances in your microbiome can also cause depression and anxiety. After all, the cookies we stress eat only make us feel better temporarily. Later on, we may feel regret and sadness that we strayed from our diets and these feelings are not good for our mental health.
We can probably all agree that health issues (especially chronic ones) take a toll on our mental health and the three co-founders of Cook + Cure are no different. They have all struggled with health issues during their lives and they believe that food plays an integral part in managing our overall health, so they created a mobile app that uses a person’s own, unique health concerns to develop a healthy meal plan customized for their specific needs.
Users can download the app and enter their health concerns and then learn what foods are likely to help them or harm them based on advice from experts. For example, people with acid reflux might want to avoid tomatoes, while people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) might want to avoid apples.
Cook + Cure even offers recipes, meditation exercises customized to your exact health concerns, and reviews from other users as to the effectiveness of suggested remedies. This app landed on our best mobile apps for mental health list because eating better leads to feeling better, especially when it comes to managing chronic health problems.
One could argue that there are few things in life more stressful and anxiety-ridden than becoming (and then being) a parent. This is especially true for first-time parents who have no idea what to expect (in spite of the lengthy book bearing that title) and tend to worry about every little thing. But of course, stress and anxiety are bad for the wee ones, so pregnant women are encouraged to find a way to manage their stress levels.
The makers of Expectful know all about the struggles a new bundle of joy can present, which is why they developed a meditation app aimed specifically at guiding women and their partners through the entire pregnancy process, from preconception, through each trimester of pregnancy, and finally, new parenthood. In our book, such a product has to be one of the best mobile apps for mental health.
Expectful is proud of the science behind their meditation practice and the results it garners, such as reduced stress and anxiety, reduced pain during labor, better connection with baby, and reduced risk of postpartum depression. Subscribers can choose between 10 and 20 minute meditation exercises for just $9.00 per month with a two week free trial period.
As we age, many people find that memory lapses or a slowness in cognitive skills is more common. When we’re young and we forget where we put our keys, we don’t think much of it, but when it happens to people in retirement, it feels more troublesome. Could this be the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s?
When it comes to memory, our brains are a bit like our muscles: if we don’t use them, we lose them. This is most pertinent to retirees, who aren’t going to work every day anymore and may not feel the same brain stimulation that they once did. Enter MindMate, one of the best mobile apps for helping baby boomers ease into retirement with better mental health.
MindMate is a mobile app aimed at reducing the risk of developing cognitive decline through education. The app, boasting over 350,000 users, teaches people how to live a healthy lifestyle by being active, eating well, and practicing mental exercises. They even provide nutritious recipes and senior-friendly physical exercises to make the program easier to follow.
Retirement is a substantial mental shift for many people. While there is certainly a sense of stress-relief, some may also experience stress from boredom or lack of stimulation. Going from working 40 or more hours a week to zero is a significant change and we’re happy to see a mobile app like MindMate helping to ease the transition.
Sometimes, Even the Best Mobile Apps Need to be Closed for the Day
Even with this diverse list of best mobile apps for mental health, we have to recognize that sometimes, the best thing for our mental health is to simply put the phone down. Your newsfeed is designed to never end, Twitter will keep refreshing, and the news will never stop. So instead, close Facebook, quit out of Twitter, and just put the phone face down in the other room. Even if it’s just for an hour — give yourself the break and assess how you feel afterward.
We all need a little technology separation occasionally — even the staff here at Proto.io, who are immersed in, and passionate about, some of the best mobile apps every single day. But don’t be afraid to start small. You don’t have to jump from not meditating at all to doing it for 30 minutes a day. Start with the short Stop, Breathe & Think meditations and build your way up from there. We’re confident you’ll find your zen in no time.
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What do you think is the best mobile app for mental health? Let us know by tweeting us @Protoio!