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Mental health apps to help you conquer stress and anxiety

Back in 2009, global technology powerhouse Apple released an ad campaign entitled ‘There’s an app for that’. The ad promotes the idea that there exists an app for any goal you want to achieve or function you wish to perform. With over 2.57 million apps in the Google Play store and 1.84 million apps in the Apple App Store, there is a legitimate reason to believe that reality is here.

Just as other industries, such as banking, education, and physical fitness, have grown and expanded into the mobile application market, experts have created mental health apps to help us become more mentally healthy.

Why should we prioritise mental health support?

Mental health is vital to your overall health. When you have an issue with a knee or an elbow, it can be frustrating, but, it doesn’t typically affect the rest of your body. When you feel like something is not right in your mind, whether it be anxiety, depression, or several other issues, it can turn your entire life upside down.

Dr Glenn Melvin is an Associate Professor from Deakin University’s School of Psychology. He says that good mental health is key to maintaining a happy and healthy life both physically and emotionally.

‘There’s a powerful connection between mental health and physical health,’ Dr Melvin says.

‘Those who are struggling with mental health are less likely to look after themselves, which can increase risk of developing chronic physical illnesses and also lead to a reduced capacity to handle everyday stresses.’

The case for mental health apps

Although the stigma is slowly fading in our society, there is still a culturally accepted divide between physical health and mental health. Even though they are both a part of the body, it can sometimes feel embarrassing to seek help for one and not the other. However, there is nothing to be embarrassed about when it comes to mental health. It is estimated almost half of Australians aged between 16 and 85 years of age will experience mental health issues at some point in their lives.

Even after knowing these statistics, you may still feel more comfortable seeking help and support through your mobile device, and that’s fine. Dr Melvin says that new innovations are creating a better environment and accessibility for people wanting support.

‘Technology is providing new options and enabling people to access all sorts of information and support,’ he says.

‘Some might have difficulty accessing face-to-face support, or they do not want that at the moment, or they may be more comfortable with text-based communication, so at that point, apps are one method that people can access this support.’

Even though studies have shown that mobile phone usage can be tied with poor mental health, the new wave of supportive mental health apps are attempting to counter that trend.

'Technology is providing new options and enabling people to access all sorts of information and support.'

Dr Glenn Melvin,
School of Psychology, Deakin University

Best apps for anxiety, mindfulness and stress

The Australian Government has a fantastic website full of resources and advice for getting mental health support called Head to Health. Check it out for all sorts of relevant and Australian-specific information.

Here is a list of apps that we think are useful:

Smiling Mind:

This is a popular mindfulness app which was developed by psychologists and educators. It aims to reduce anxiety and improve mood through meditation and other methods.

ReachOut WorryTime:

According to the website, ‘WorryTime interrupts this repetitive thinking by setting aside your worries until later, so you don’t get caught up in them and can get on with your day. This means you can deal with worries once a day, rather than carrying them around with you 24/7.’

Stoic:

Provides bite-size mental exercises and fragments from books that will help you feel better and deal with any obstacles you face. Get your daily mental health tracker companion for mood tracking, journaling, meditations and reflection.

MindDoc:

A monitoring system that recognises symptoms of mental disorders. Receive personalised recommendations based on your answers. Helpful insights and statistics help to detect patterns and triggers. 

Is this the end of in-person therapy?

The advancements in technology have made help more accessible than ever before. However, it should be noted that there will always be a need for face-to-face support. Digital applications are incredible for a wide range of people, but they cannot fully replace in-person interaction.

‘We certainly need a range of supports so people can seek the help that is right for them,’ Dr Melvin says.

‘Apps and bots are a part of that. However, the value placed on solid human connection means that face-to-face support will always be desired.’

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Dr Glenn Melvin
Dr Glenn Melvin

School of Psychology, Deakin University

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