Best apps for mental health - 2016

As I've mentioned before, it's important to continue the work of personal growth in between counseling sessions. This can look different for everyone- what works for someone else may or may not work for you. The important thing is to stay engaged and focused on your goals!

As a counselor, I frequently talk with my clients about what they can be doing in between sessions to help ease anxiety and depression symptoms. One of those things is to utilize one of the many excellent apps for mental health. Awhile ago I wrote about some favorite apps and I thought it was time to share a few new ones:

  • Calm

What it is: Calm is a mindfulness meditation app- and offers SO much for anyone wanting to begin or deepen their meditation practice. The free version offers a variety of timed, untimed, guided, and unguided meditations, plus a week-long introductory program called 7 Days of Calm. The app also has a ton of relaxing scenes with sounds, like Fireplace, Foggy Stream, and Pouring Rain. I like to use this feature to help me focus on important tasks.

The upgraded version provides specific meditation programs with themes like sleep, anxiety, happiness, and self-esteem. It also updates each day with a new meditation. I love incorporating mindfulness and meditation into my work as a therapist, and often recommend this app to my clients!

Where to start: Check out the 7 Days of Calm program. This free feature walks you through the basics of mindfulness meditation, at just 10 minutes each day. 

Bonus: There's a book, too! I highly recommend it as a screen-free way to get fresh ideas for relaxation, gratitude, and mindfulness.

Where to find it: WebsiteApp StoreGoogle Play

  • Easy Mood Diary 

What it is: Easy Mood Diary is a simple, clean app that allows you to track your moods over time. Each day, you can go into the app and rate your mood on a scale 1-5, with the option of adding a note. You can track trends over time

Where to start: Just download the app and get tracking! There are no extra steps needed, you don't even need to create an account.

Bonus: There aren't a lot of features here (which is great! Simple is good!) but one thing this app can do is email your mood log to anyone. You can email it to your therapist and use your scores and notes as a way to remember what exactly you wanted to bring up in your session. This is really helpful for when you think of something throughout the week you want to discuss in counseling, but can't remember it when the time comes- a common experience :)

Where to find it: App Store, Google Play

  • Pacifica

What it is: Pacifica is a comprehensive mental health app that includes mood and activity tracking, cognitive-behavioral techniques, guided visualization and meditation, and chat forums. 

Where to start: You'll be prompted to rate your mood when you open the app for the first time, and then you can configure your settings to get daily reminders. Once you do that, hop on over to either the relaxation section or the thoughts section. The thoughts section is a great way to practice cognitive-behavioral skills you might have learned in counseling!

If you upgrade to the paid version of Pacifica, you'll have access to many more activities in the relaxation section, and you'll have the ability to keep a thought journal via text or talk-to-text, along with a few other features.

Bonus: Pacifica syncs with Health for iPhone users! This is a really handy way to keep track of your health data- especially helpful considering the major connection between mind-body health. 

Where to find it: Website, App Store, Google Play

Apps are an excellent resource to use in between counseling sessions, but they are not a substitute for quality mental healthcare. You can find freedom from anxiety and perfection. To get started, schedule your first session today.