Telemedicine is taking over - including in the mental health sector. With many barriers to care - cost and limited providers, to name a few - people are turning to apps for everything from affirmations to counseling! With a new trend quickly emerging, how can consumers know what apps are worth their time and which ones are best left alone? We've done the hard work for you - combing through the sea of apps for ones reviewed by the Axiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).
Some of the best things in life are free - and that's true when it comes to apps too! Some of the most basic mental health tools in app form are free to use. Here are 5 free apps to start with!
The National Center for Telehealth & Technology created this app to teach breathing techniques. These breathing exercises are great for calming anxieties, depression and PTSD. The app includes customization features for its users, allowing progress tracking and pacing of activities.
Live OCD Free
You guessed it - this app is for adults and youth with diagnosed OCD or OCD tendencies. The app features a full cognitive toolkit, using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help users work through general and specific triggers.
MindShift aims to create coping strategies for all levels of anxiety, including performance anxiety, social anxiety, panic attacks, and GAD (generalized anxiety disorder). The app includes a wide range of coping resources; mental imagery, breathing exercises and mindfulness strategies. Coping strategies in the app are tailored to the type of anxieties that the user is facing, giving a level of customization to the app.
The National Center for PTSD released PTSD Coach as a self-help app, as well as a learning tool. The app teaches skills for those suffering with mild to moderate PTSD. Featured within the app are a self-assessment, tips for managing symptoms and a search feature to find local treatment resources and providers.
T2 Mood Tracker
This app is more along the lines of a reporting tool rather than a self-help app. Sometimes it can be difficult to accurately portray feelings to a healthcare professional. By tracking mood changes and feelings in the app, users can bring an accurate representation to professionals to better diagnose and/or adjust treatments.
For those looking for a bit more interaction on the apps, there are paid options that provide access to additional resources. These resources range from additional coping mechanisms, to access to a live therapist! Here's our top five paid mental health apps.
The Happify app is a self-guided program that uses exercises and activities to increase positive emotions. Users take a questionnaire that the app uses to recommend certain activities depending on the end goal. Happify is recommended for those who struggle with anything from worry to chronic pain.
Headspace is one of the most popular mindfulness apps. Users learn the basics of meditation, controlled breathing and cognitive diffusion. Also included are podcasts and an online forum. The first ten sessions are free - just enough to see if it's worth the price to continue.
Individuals with panic disorder can access coping tools for panic attacks in the Panic Relief app. Coping mechanisms help users to manage and move through attacks through activities such as progressive muscle relaxation, diaphragmatic breathing and other empirically-supported tools.
Talkspace is likely the most costly telemedicine app, but in most cases, still comes in at a cheaper price than conventional therapy. Talkspace gives users access to both messaging therapy and live therapy sessions with real, licensed therapists - no bots. Most messaging plans are unlimited, meaning users have access to their therapists as many times as they need them, with therapists responding five days a week.
WorryWatch is helpful for various types of anxiety, allowing users to track worry based on intensity, frequency and duration. The app also includes a feature that asks users to reflect on their worry, determining if the cause of worry turned out to be as bad as they thought it might. WorryWatch is best paired with cognitive behavioral therapy, as it may help a professional see patterns in the users' anxieties.