Best Apps for Mental Health
Mental health: there's an app for that!
Our consortium partnership with Headspace Chatswood and Brookvale has seen us welcome more young people into the STEPS program, and our employment counsellors have been testing and reviewing the most useful apps for mental health - these are available 24/7 on any smartphone or tablet, they're confidential and they certainly don't need you to make an appointment! In providing services to young people, we've found that a flexible, innovative approach tailored to each client is the most effective. Apps like these listed below can be a great resource for someone who might be finding the time in between their appointments with mental health support people difficult, and are an easy way of accessing that support whenever it might be needed.
We've done the hard work for you and taken these for a road test - we've listed the apps and our favourite features below.
Another great resource to keep on your pocket, especially if you live around or visit anywhere north of the bridge. YouthSource came about as a joint partner initiative between the Department of Education, the NSW Health Northern Sydney Local Health District, North Sydney Council and a few local schools. There are a vast array of useful services and community facilities available for young people in the Northern Sydney area, and this cleanly designed and easy-to-use apps brings them all together for you. We particularly like the search function in this app - you can search by service types, or allow location services and search for service providers near you. Find STEPS in multiple sections - Alcohol & Other Drugs, Counselling, Disability, Education & Training, Employment and Mental Health.
This one is definitely a winner. SuperBetter takes a creative approach to the daily challenges that people face to their mental (and physical) health. If you identify a concern, the app will tailor it's 'bad guys' (challenges) to you, and suggests solutions to 'battle' the challenges. For example, 'The Lazy Exercise Robbers' have jaws like elevators and teeth like escalators, and suggest that you take the stairs or walk rather than drive in order to defeat this particular bad guy.
It's a fun app, and well-designed. It reframes common difficulties that may leave people feeling stuck or overwhelmed and puts them into perspective, breaking down that overwhelmed feeling and providing you with simple solutions.
SuperBetter is free from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
KALOF (Keep A Look Out For)
'Get political. Get healthy. Find your peeps.' KALOF's tag line encapsulates the app pretty well. Conceived and designed by the youth advisory group at Warringah Council, KALOF is a great app designed by young beaches residents for their peers. The app lists events, community venues, local resources and more as it endeavors to connect the young people of the Northern Beaches with each other, and young residents of other areas with events in the Beaches area. KALOF has a great range of events and a very comprehensive listing of local services - you can keep a look out for STEPS in the Community Venues section.
Kalof is free on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
This app is amazing. It's a personal trainer, alarm clock and life coach in your pocket that aims to kick start you on a healthier routine if you've fallen into bad habits. It first asks you a series of questions related to your sleep and exercise patterns as well as about your general mental health. Based on that, it generates what it deems to be the best wakeup times for you on weekdays and weekends, and sets exercise goals for you too. If you allow notifications, the app will remind you of all of these goals and even set your alarms for the week. The app checks in with you in the morning when you wake up, in the afternoon and around bedtime in the evening so it can show your progress. Developed by ReachOut, the University of Sydney and the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre, Recharge is a fantastic way to get back into a routine, and to help you understand the incredibly important relationship between sleep, exercise and mental health.
Download Recharge for free on the Apple App Store.
This app from Youth Beyondblue takes a different approach to a common issue faced by young people. While many apps offer resources for those facing challenges with their own mental health, Check-In encourages everyone to make sure their friends are doing alright. It breaks down what can be a difficult and confronting conversation into parts - first it suggests locations for asking a friend how they are, then gives you open questions and discussion prompts to help users through tricky conversations. The tips in this app are fantastic, and we suggest tapping the 'more info' tabs on the right side of each conversation prompt for further discussion topics and steps you can take.
Download Check-In (free) from the App Store or Google Play Store.
Smiling Mind, developed by a group of Australian psychologists, is a simple way to become more mindful of your body, thoughts and emotions through meditation. After selecting the appropriate age category, users are guided through a series of meditation and mindfulness tasks, beginning with ‘Body Scan’. The tasks are the perfect length to squeeze into a busy day, and are especially helpful if you have trouble winding down after a stressful or intense situation. Though the app was initially designed with young people in mind, it has been expanded with programs added for adults, and Smiling Mind now offers mindfulness partnerships with many large corporations.
Breathe is a wonderful example of simple, deliberate and effective app design. It was the first of ReachOut’s growing number of mobile apps, and is available both on iPhone and on the Apple Watch. It aims to lower your heart rate and help to reduce stress and anxiety by moderating the associated physical symptoms. This clever app uses your phone camera and flash, or the Apple Watch’s inbuilt heart rate monitor to measure your heart rate, and provides you with breathing instructions to lower it. You can set the duration of the exercise as well as the breathe in/breathe out times if you’d like to customise your experience. All you need to do is tap and hold the yellow circle as it tells you to breath in, hold, and release your breath and the yellow circle. It repeats this before finally offering to check your heart rate again. This clever app isn’t only useful for people experiencing periods of anxiety or panic - it’s great if you’re just a busy person, are nervous about an exam, or if you struggle to get to sleep at night.
With it’s cute origami-inspired animations, Reach Out’s WorryTime app allows you to store things that trouble you throughout the day so you can come back to them at a time you choose. It helps you to put troubling thoughts, interactions or experiences aside so you can avoid dwelling on them, and reminds you at a time of your choosing to process them with a clear mind. This approach encourages users to reframe their worries and helps them to deal with what’s bothering them in a methodical way. Even the act of writing down the issue at the time and coming back to read over it later may help with gaining perspective, and helping to overcoming more persistent difficulties.