7 Apps That Can Help You Manage Your Mental Health

When it comes to self-care, smartphones are often viewed as a foe. It’s not hard to imagine why–they’re a means of communication that, in many cases, actually limit human interaction. They’re suctions of productivity. Plus, many of the apps that people use smartphones for–Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat–often carry hidden side effects of feeling left out and depressed with a heavy side of FOMO. But, before you turn your phone off for good, delete your social media, and embark on a smartphone cleanse for the foreseeable future, you might want to consider self-care apps–specifically, ones that were designed to help with your mental health. 

There are a ton of apps out there that were built specifically to help you with any mental health issue you might have, from depression to anxiety to anything else. They’re a great way to take your phone, which can typically be a source of some negative things, into something positive. Of course, none of them replace professional treatment, sodon’t try and use them as substitute. So, check out these awesome apps that can help you manage your mental health:

Code Blue

Code Blue is an app designed for teenagers dealing with depression and/or bullying. Its function is simple--if you're ever feeling down, you just tap a button, and it sends an alert with your location to a preselected support crew. This makes it easy toask for help during a time when you might not be up to calling or composing a long text. This app is currently still in development, but it will be free when it officially launches.

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If you want to go to therapy, but can't afford it or don't have the time, you might want to try Talkspace. This is a "messaging therapy" app that allows you to text a therapist as many times as you want during a selected period for a significantly lower cost than conventional therapy ($32 a week). While not as intensive as in-person therapy  sessions, this is a great way to access therapy if it's something that would otherwise be unattainable for you.

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Not to be the "Oh, but have you tried meditation? It's soooo helpful" person in the room, but meditation really is great for alleviating stress and tension. It can be intimidating to start, however--how do you just, like, stop thinking?--so it's important to use some sort of guide. If you don't happen to have a personal meditation guru, you can use an app. There are tons of them to choose from, but I like Calm, since it offers lots of different types of meditation as well as a variety times for sessions, so you can tailor every meditation session to your needs in that particular moment.

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Feel like meditation might not quite be enough for you? Try Breathe2Relax, which has similar EXERCISES as meditation, but is specifically designed for stress management. In the app's description, it's described as a "portable stress management tool which provides detailed information on the effects of stress on the body" (which, hmm, seems like it might be more stressful, no?) thathas instructions and practice exercises to help users learn the stress management skill called diaphragmatic breathing. 

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Sleep Genius 

Getting an adequate amount of sleep is so, so important when it comes to mental health. But, if you're an anxious person, it can be hard to fall asleep, which means it's hard to wake up, which means it's hard to get enough sleep, which means that you probably have a very complicated relationship with sleep in general. Sound like you? If so, you might want to try an app. Sleep Genius is a good one--it helps you pick your perfect bedtime, set an effective alarm, and relax before you go to bed.

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Moodtune is an app designed to help people with depression feel better through a series of tasks. Basically, it has four core training tasks that have been clinically shown to improve the mood of people with depression over time, since it helps you keep track of your own moods. The app is careful to caution that you can't train away clinical depression; rather, it's a means of keeping track of what makes you feel happy and in control, and what doesn't.

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Having trouble seeing the glass as half-full today? If so, you might want to try out Optimism, which aims to do exactly as its name implies--inspire positive thinking. It does this through helping you track your moods, what affects them, stay aware of triggers and creating effective strategies for dealing with them.

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Do you use any of these apps? Are there any other ones that you suggest? Let us know in the comments!

You can reach the author, Sara Hendricks, on Twitter and Instagram.

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