While apps are not a replacement for talking to someone in person or Tele-Therapy, where you can talk to someone on-line, they can be of help if you don’t have access to anyone during this time.
Scroll through the list to find out if any can be of help.
Designed to help those stay safe while having thoughts of suicide, MY3 is free and lets you customize your own personal safety plan by noting your warning signs, listing coping strategies, and connecting you to helpful resources to reach out to when you need them most. At your fingertips is a button that puts you in direct contact (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) with a trained counselor from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline as well as a 911 alert. Additionally, you can choose three people to contact in the event you’re having thoughts of suicide. (Free; iOS and Android)
notOK is a free app developed by a struggling teenager (and her teen brother) for teenagers. The app features a large, red button that can be activated to let close friends, family and their support network know help is needed. Users can add up to five trusted contacts as part of their support group so when they hit the digital panic button, a message along with their current GPS location is sent to their contacts. The message reads: “Hey, I’m not OK! Please call, text, or come find me.” (Free; iOS and Android)
General Mental Health Apps
What’s up is a free app that uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)and Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) methods to help you cope with Depression, Anxiety, Stress, and more. Use the positive and negative habit tracker to maintain your good habits, and break those that are counterproductive. We particularly love the “Get Grounded” page, which contains over 100 different questions to pinpoint what you’re feeling, and the “Thinking Patterns” page, which teaches you how to stop negative internal monologues. Try it out for yourself. (Free; iOS and Android)
While apps are not a replacement for in-person help, they can provide people suffering with recovery resources at the palm of their hands to help track sobriety, monitor triggering behaviors, and give instant access to support. If you are experiencing an addiction and need help, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357.
Twenty-Four Hours a Day
Based on the best-selling book of the same name, Twenty-Four Hours a Day offers 366 meditations from the book, making it easier for people in recovery from addiction to focus on sobriety wherever they are. (Free iOSand Android)
Quit That! – Habit Tracker
Quit That! is a completely free app that helps users beat their habits or addictions. Whether you’re looking to stop drinking alcohol, quit smoking, or stop taking drugs, it’s the perfect recovery tool to track and monitor your progress. Track as many vices as you want and find out how many minutes, hours, days, weeks, or years it’s been since you quit. (Free; iOS)
Those with chronic anxiety know the feeling: The angst is always there—lurking around like a stage-five clinger. It’s the kind of condition that, for the 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older who have an anxiety disorder, can be all-consuming when left to its own devices. But anxiety can also be manageable once you learn how to work through all that worry. Seeking help from a mental health professional is the best way to manage anxiety, but, the following apps are great tools to use along the way—like reminding you to focus on your breathing to get out of a vicious thought cycle.
MindShift is one of the best mental health apps designed specifically for teens and young adults with anxiety. Rather than trying to avoid anxious feelings, Mind Shift stresses the importance of changing how you think about anxiety. Think of this app as the cheerleader in your pocket, encouraging you to take charge of your life, ride out intense emotions, and face challenging situations. (Free; iOS and Android)
Self-Help for Anxiety Management (SAM)
SAM might be perfect for you if you’re interested in self-help, but meditation isn’t your thing. Users are prompted to build their own 24-hour anxiety toolkit that allows you to track anxious thoughts and behavior over time, and learn 25 different self-help techniques. You can also use SAM’s “Social Cloud” feature to confidentially connect with other users in an online community for additional support. (Free; iOS and Android)
CBT Thought Record Diary
The centerpiece of cognitive-behavioral therapy is changing your emotions by identifying negative and distorted thinking patterns. You can use CBT Thought Record Diary to document negative emotions, analyze flaws in your thinking, and reevaluate your thoughts. This is a great app for gradually changing your approach to anxiety-inducing situations and your thinking patterns for future situations. (Free; iOS and Android)
Bipolar Disorder Apps
Just like its name suggests, bipolar disorder is characterized by polar opposite mood swings that go from extreme highs to the lowest of lows. It’s a largely genetic condition that affects up to 5.7 million adults. While bipolar disorder is a serious mental health condition that requires medication and psychotherapy, along with those treatments, apps can be a useful tool to help those with the condition understand and track their moods, identify triggers, and get a handle on the severity of their symptoms. For more help and information about the condition, contact the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), which offers online and in-person support groups, or the International Bipolar Association Crisis Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
eMoods is a mood tracking app designed specifically for people with bipolar disorder. Throughout the day, users can track depressive and psychotic symptoms, elevated mood, and irritability and give an indication of the severity of their symptoms. Users can then see their mood changes on a color-coded monthly calendar and even export a monthly summary report to identify specific triggers and better understand their fluctuating mood. (Free; iOS and Android)
If you have depression, life can seem like a giant pit of quicksand that’s constantly pulling you under with no way out. Let’s just say, it’s a heavy state of being. And it’s also one of the most common mental health conditions, affecting about 350 million people. If left alone, depression can continue to linger and linger, taking a toll on your quality of life. But there is a bright side: It’s treatable. Seeking help from a mental health professional is the first step. And for those in therapy, there are also some good apps that can do everything from helping to boost your mood to connecting you with a trained professional who can offer virtual counseling. If you are struggling or in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Need a happy fix? With its psychologist-approved mood-training program, the Happify app is your fast-track to a good mood. Try various engaging games, activity suggestions, gratitude prompts and more to train your brain as if it were a muscle, to overcome negative thoughts. The best part? Its free! (Free; iOS and Android)
MoodTools aims to support people with clinical depression by aiding the path to recovery. Discover helpful videos that can improve your mood and behavior, log and analyze your thoughts using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) principles, develop a suicide safety plan and more with this free app. (Free; iOS and Android)
Eating Disorder Apps
Thinking about food, weight, and body image is a constant battle for the millions of Americans with an eating disorder. In fact, it can consume so much of their waking hours that it often gets in the way of daily functioning. For referrals to treatment options, general concerns, or support, call the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders Helpline at 630-577-1330. And while you’re recovering, the below apps can help foster a better body image and encourage a healthier relationship with food.
Recovery Record is a great app for anyone recovering from an eating disorder and wanting to develop a more positive body image. Keep a record of the meals you eat and how they make you feel using the app and complete questionnaires that’ll help you track your progress over time. One user calls Recovery Record a “remarkable recovery tool”; “It helps me stick to my meal plan, provides an outlet to vent about my food concerns and helps me stay intact with my body to work with it rather than against.” (Free; iOS and Android)
Rise Up and Recover
Rise Up + Recover is a unique app as it not only allows you to track your meals and how you feel when you eat them, but you can also transcribe your progress into a PDF printout. Pull up the Rise + Recover app on your mobile when you feel the urge to binge or skip a meal, and need quick coping strategies. (Free; iOS and Android)
Unlike the other apps featured in this list, Lifesum is a broader resource for all things healthy living. The app allows you to set personal goals, from eating healthier, to building more muscle and getting in more steps each day. You can also enter your own personal data and let Lifesum generate a “Life Score” to get a personalized roadmap to better health. With reminders to drink water and eat regularly throughout the day, Lifesum is a great option for anyone trying to live healthier, but for people with eating disorders, this app can be used to help you redefine how you think about healthy body image. (Free; iOS and Android)
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Apps
Who hasn’t left the house only to turn right back again because you’re worried you left the iron or the stove or the curling iron on? We’re all guilty as charged. But for someone tormented by obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), that same worry can persist all day—even after they’ve gone home to turn off their appliances. OCD, experienced by 2.2 million adults, is characterized by repetitive, unstoppable, intrusive, or obsessive thoughts and irrational urges (compulsions) to do repetitive acts to relieve the anxiety of the obsessions. The obsessions and compulsions can vary greatly. But, with a first-line treatment plan of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and/ or medication, OCD can be effectively managed. To ease the angst on the regular, the following apps identify triggers, help to navigate a bout of OCD when it strikes and provide easy ways to turn around negative thoughts.
nOCD was designed with the help of OCD specialists and patients to incorporate two treatments: mindfulness and Exposure Response Prevention Treatment. You can receive immediate, clinically-supported guidance when an OCD episode strikes, take weekly tests to assess the severity of your OCD, and have motivational support along the way. One user calls nOCD “a free therapist in your pocket!” (Free; iOS)
GG OCD aims to improve OCD symptoms by increasing the user’s awareness of negative thoughts and training the brain to push those aside to embrace a more positive outset. The app takes the users through various levels, each consisting of short games around a specific theme. From how to automatically replace negative self-talk with positive thoughts, to belief in change, building self-esteem and more, this app takes its user on a journey towards a healthier thinking pattern. (Free; iOS and Android)
Created by the VA’s National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), PTSD Coach offers everything from a self-assessment for PTSD, to opportunities to find support, positive self-talk, and anger management. What’s great about this app is that you can customize tools based on your own individual needs and preferences, and integrate your own contacts, photos, and music.4 (Free; iOS and Android)
Sometimes you just need to breathe and remind yourself you are okay. Breathe2Relax is made for just that. Created by the National Center for Telehealth and Technology, this app is a portable stress management tool that teaches users a skill called diaphragmatic breathing. Breathe2Relax works by decreasing the body’s ‘fight-or-flight’ stress response, making it a great option for people suffering from PTSD. (Free; iOS and Android)
Suicide Prevention Hotline 800-273-8255, and Trevor Lifeline, 866-488-7386.
Remember to take care of your mental health daily by:
- Get enough sleep each night. Aim for at least 9 hours. Turn off all electronics at least two hours before bedtime.
- Avoid sugar and highly processed foods. What you eat will affect how you feel and your mind.
- Select healthier snacks like almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, mixed nuts, Koshi cereals, yogurt without sugar with blueberries on top, hard-boiled eggs, look for veggie snacks in chip isle, hummus, carrots, rice cakes, peanut butter, tangerines, mozzarella sticks you can peel.
- Eat nutritiously and focus on lots of veggies. If you don’t cook or don’t feel like it, look for microwavable ones and use sea salt. Black beans, lentil or veggies soups are filling too.
- Hydrate throughout the day with water. Soda, sugary drinks, power drinks, coffee will all cause jitters, anxiety and you will keep craving more –none are good for your mental health except water. If you need flavor look for sugarless flavor packets in great flavors you can add to it to spice it up.
- Get at least 30 minutes of exercise. When you feel stressed or anxious take a 15 minute walk break. If you can get outside in nature, even better. Nature and exercise are both scientifically proven to improve mental health. If your mind races or you feel scattered, there’s nothing better you can do to calm your mind. The key is to fully be in the moment and focus on breathing and your surroundings. Your brain takes in a tremendous amount of information each day. It needs a release. Exercise clears the slate. Your body gets to benefit too and you release natural feel-good hormones you need to feel good. Walking counts. Bonus: There isn’t one harmful side effect.
- Limit the amount of negative news you either watch on TV or read on social media. Make time to watch a good movie. Comedies are especially uplifting and will get you outside of your own head. Call a friend. Watch at the same time. Then, compare what you thought. People to avoid: untrustworthy, negative or quick to anger top the list. If you’re trapped with a such a person during Covid –set boundaries and limit your time near them.
- Journal and write your thoughts down. What are you feeling? Why? What can you do today or tomorrow to improve that?
- Listen to uplifting music.
- Make a list of every little thing you are grateful for each day. You can breathe, walk, read –things that seem trivial but if taken away would make you realize how blessed you are.
- Remind yourself there is no one else in the world exactly like you. No one. You’re special and beautiful.
- Be ask compassionate and forgiving with your own flaws and mistakes as you would be with a best friend. Think of all your mistakes as lessons. Ask yourself what you learned from them and how much wiser you will be next time. Wisdom comes from experience.
- Remind yourself you can’t control what other people do or say, but you can control 1) how you react to them and b) how you yourself behave. It’s better to respond than react. That means remembering to count to 10 and breathe or taking a time out as needed. If someone else is yelling, let them. It’s about them, not you. Remain calm.
- Give yourself a treat day each week when you can indulge in favorites, ie. pizza, ice cream or whatever. Celebrate you.
15. Do something nice for someone. Open a door. Lend a helping hand. Ask if someone needs anything. Offer a sincere compliment. Make someone laugh. Refer a good movie or book. Refer someone for a job. Forward job opening that may be of interest to someone you know. Or simply smile. It’s wonderful being around nice people. Be one.
Everything will be OK.