Best mental health apps: 16 to help protect your mental wellbeing

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  • This World Mental Health day, let us - and these apps - help you safeguard your mental health

    It’s no news that the coronavirus pandemic has taken its toll on the nation’s mental health, and this World Mental Health day, know this: you are not alone.

    Charity Mind UK have called the last year a ‘mental health emergency’, with worrying stats indicating that more than half of adults (60%) report their mental health has deteriorated.

    The theme of this year’s awareness day – recognised annually by the World Health Organisation on 10th October – is ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’, highlighting how unequal mental health care is globally.

    Luckily, in the UK, the nation’s attitude towards talking about our mental health is shifting, and for the better – but there’s always more to be done. 

    So, as lockdown restrictions ease and life gets a little busy again, remember that there are ways safeguard your mental health as we return to normal – like downloading some of the best mental health apps, designed by experts to offer you support from the comfort of your mobile phone.

    Think taking that lunch break to go for a walk around the block, skipping social media if it makes you feel anxious, or simply opening up to a friend about how you’re feeling.

    Best Mental Health Apps

    Best mental health apps: 16 to download now

    1. Best meditation app: Headspace

    Price: £9.99 a month, apps.apple.com

    You’ll likely have heard of Headspace, the much-loved meditation app (partly thanks to mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe’s dulcet tones). It promises to help you live a healthier, happier, more well-rested life in just a few minutes a day with the Headspace app, offering guided meditations and expert-led ‘SOS’ sessions for moments of panic, anxiety or stress. Fun fact: Headspace has been proven to reduce stress in 10 days, reduce negative emotions by 28% and increased resilience by 11%.

    Not so keen on Headspace? Learn how to manifest, here.

    2. Best wellbeing app: Thrive

    Price: Free, apps.apple.com

    Thrive is an NHS recommended mental wellbeing platform helping you to manage stress, anxiety and those days when you just feel a little down. By helping to track your moods and educate you on the best coping mechanisms for managing the down days, users can equip themselves with the best tools to manage stress, sadness and negative thoughts. With over 3 million users globally, it’s designed to suit your mental health needs.

    3. Best mental health app for a bit of calm: Calm

    Price: £28.99, apps.apple.com

    Similarly to Headspace, Calm is a well-known app, and for good reason. The ultimate wellness tool, it offers guided meditations for any situation, sleep scapes and calming audio content in different six languages. Plus, the only thing better than celebrity workouts is, well, celebrity mental workouts, and Calm comes complete with some incredible sleep stories read by the likes of Harry Styles, Stephen Fry and Matthew McConaughey. Swoon.

    4. Best mental health app for mums to be: Biamother

    Price: £16.99 a month, apps.apple.com

    Becoming a new mother is stressful as is, without throwing a global pandemic in the mix, too. Thanks to the Biamother app, new mums or mums-to-be can enjoy pregnancy-focused meditations, advice-packed podcasts and tips from experts to help reduce pregnancy-related anxiety. Think a holistic wellness platform for new and expectant mothers.

    5. Best therapy app: Babylon

    Price: £49 per session or £149 a year, apps.apple.com

    If you feel you need support from a qualified professional but aren’t able or comfortable heading into your local GP practice right now, it may be worth giving Babylon a go. The app offers therapy sessions in the form of virtual video appointments with registered behavioural therapists. Plus, you’ll get access to healthcare information services, medical prescriptions and appointments with qualified GPs, straight from your mobile.

    6. Best mental health app for teenagers: Wysa

    Price: Free, apps.apple.com

    Another app promising alternative therapy is Wysa, which combines anonymous, personalised AI chat with guided support from qualified mental health professionals. It’s essentially a therapist chatbot designed for teens aged 13 to 18 years old. You’ll also benefit from hundreds of courses spanning coping with COVID, anxiety, depression, self-esteem and bullying. There’s a reason it’s 3,300 reviews rate it 4.8/5 in the App Store.

    7. Best mental health app for panic attacks: Beat Panic

    Price: £0.99, apps.apple.com

    Panic attacks are all too common, sadly, from the minor, tight chest occurrences, to the full-blown suffocation that makes you stop in your tracks. That’s where Beat Panic comes in, expertly designed to guide people through a panic attack, wherever you are. By making you focus on something other than your reality and helping you breathe deeply, it promises to help reduce your heart rate—and panic levels—in no time.

    8. Best app for anxiety: Catch It

    Price: Free, apps.apple.com

    If you think you may be suffering from more minor symptoms of anxiety or depression, like nervousness or lethargy, downloading an app like Catch It could be a great way to educate yourself on the many different indicators of an underlying mental health condition and how to identify them in yourself. The app teaches you how to recognise said symptoms, plus how to manage your feelings by encouraging you to look at problems in a different way and, more generally, turn any negative thoughts into positive ones.

    9. Best free mental health app: Chill Panda

    Price: Free, apps.apple.com

    The clue is in the name with this one. If you’re feeling overworked and run down or have noticed heightened feelings of fear and anxiety, the Chill Panda app will help with a whole host of breathing exercises, distracting techniques and worry management. Plus, the app will monitor your heart rate and suggests the appropriate tasks for your current state of mind. Suitable for both children and adults. Clever.

    10. Best mental health app for helping you express how you’re feeling: Cove

    Price: Free, apps.apple.com

    One of the biggest challenges, when you are struggling with your mental health, is expressing how you’re feeling to friends, family or professionals who can help. That’s because mental illnesses normally convince you to isolate yourself from others. With Cove, you can express yourself in a totally different way, via the medium of music. Capture your mood and express your feelings, whether that’s happiness, sadness, peace or frustration. Whether you create for yourself only or to communicate with others is up to you.

    11. Best mental health app for instant help: Ieso

    Price: Partly free, nhs.uk

    Feel like you need to talk to someone and need to talk to someone urgently? No one is a replacement for the Samaritans hotline, open 24 hours a day on 116 123, but Ieso offers an online instant messaging for those who have slightly lesser issues they’d like to chat through with someone. It’s totally confidential and will connect you to a trained cognitive behavioural therapy therapist. Therapy is sent via text, so you can read back over your sessions any time, any place.

    12. Best CBT app: WorryTree

    Price: Free, apps.apple.com

    The main aim of the WorryTree app is to help you manage, record and take control of your mental health issues. It’s essentially an interactive online journal, encouraging you to jot down your worries and fears and then using cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help you recognise and tackle your worries. That’s your worry action plan, sorted.

    13. Best mental health course: Be Mindful

    Price: £30.00, bemindful.com

    Not an app, but a course, and a helpful one at that. If you or anyone you know is suffering from depression or anxiety, the best bet is to book an expert with a professional and let them guide you on your path to recovery. However, if for whatever reason you can’t do that, the Be Mindful app could prove a starting point, with the aim of educating you via mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). It’s NHS approved and clinically-proven to help reduce your levels of stress, anxiety and depression.

    14. Best NHS-approved app: My Possible Self

    Price: Free. mypossibleself.com

    Designed by the world’s leading mental health experts, this app is clinically certified and approved by the NHS. The app features a wide array of tools to promote happiness and wellbeing, from an everyday ‘mood tracker’, to learning modules for a better understanding of what aspects of life are causing anxiety. Neat.

    15. Best mental health app created by a professor: TRUCONNECT by TV.FIT

    Price: £9.99 a month, apps.apple.com

    Like the sound of over 45 mental health and lifestyle e-books for children and adults that have been created by Professor Christopher Williams, who is one of just a handful of individuals whose work is prescribed by the NHS? The e-books cover a range of topics to support enhanced mental wellbeing, from looking at the world slightly differently, to simple day-to-day changes you can make to feel happier straight away, to staying motivated in a new routine.

    16. Best mental health app for those interested in hypnobirthing: My Mindful Midwife 

    Price: £3.49, mymindfulmidwife.com

    FYI, there’s a new app out which combines the professional know-how of an experienced midwife with the mindful pregnancy and birth preparation expertise of a renowned hypnobirthing teacher. Pregnancy – and birth – can mark a significant period of change in your life. This app promises to help support you and your mental health through that transition.

    What does it mean to struggle with your mental health?

    According to Pablo Vandenabeele, Clinical Director of Mental Health at Bupa, mental health issues can present themselves in a range of ways.

    “They usually appear gradually, often over a few weeks. It’s normal to occasionally experience a low mood or anxiety. If you’re experiencing feeling low, irritable, stressed and worried for a few weeks or longer, this could be a sign”, he explains. You may also have trouble concentrating or remembering things, find it difficult to manage everyday life and you may be sleeping less, or too much. In short, you may feel disconnected from the world.

    If you yourself have been feeling any of the above, it’s important to remember, you are not alone. Most common mental health conditions do a great job of isolating you, and so too has the COVID-19 pandemic. But 1 in 4 people experience poor mental health each year in England.

    Think of it this way: if you had a physical ailment, like a muscle sprain or tear, you’d book an appointment with your GP or physio. Mental health issues should be viewed the same: sans stigma or shame.

    Can a mental health app really help?

    Sure, you might raise your eyebrows at an article rounding up the best mental health apps, but know this: if you have been feeling blue, thanks to constantly-evolving technological advancements, there are now a number of apps that promise to provide some form of help.

    While they’re not a replacement for the real deal (that is, seeing a qualified professional), they can help provide relief, for some people, in the earlier stages of your mental health struggles. In short, it basically depends on the person.

    “Some mental health apps can be helpful to those who are unable to attend face-to-face appointments. They can also provide ongoing support in between your sessions with a doctor or therapist”, shares Vandenabeele.

    Although, do note here, he warns that they are not a replacement for seeking medical advice. “If you have concerns about any symptoms you are experiencing, please visit a qualified professional”, he adds.

    If you are really struggling with your mental health, remember, whatever you’re going through, that Samaritans are always at the end of the phone, any time, day or night. They promise to listen without judging you or telling you what to do. Call now on 116 123. You are not alone.

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