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Boost your mental health with these apps

image1 aug2020

The gradual easing of lockdown has come as a welcome blessing for most people. But there is still a significant proportion of the population that not only suffered with their mental health during the worst that the pandemic has thrown at us so far but may continue to feel its adverse effects for some time to come.

In an article last updated on the 9th of July, for example, the Mental Health Foundation warned that coming out of lockdown is likely to pose significant worries for those who already have mental health concerns and those who are known to be more vulnerable to the virus.

The leading charity Mind also told the Guardian newspaper recently that lockdown has seen a general deterioration in many people’s mental health and called for government action to prevent “an even bigger crisis” in the future.

What you can do to look after your mental health

If you are:

  • in a vulnerable health category and need to continue self-isolating;
  • looking after someone in this group; or,
  • worried about the conditions you might encounter as you return to work

there are things you can do to help look after your mental health.

As in practically every aspect of our lives these days, of course, technology also comes to the rescue in support of those actions.

So, let’s take a closer look at some of the apps specifically oriented towards maintaining your mental health – some are free to use, some have in-app advertising, and others may be purchased for a fee:

Elefriends

  • Elefriends has been developed by Mind as an online support group where you may safely share your experiences with others – knowing that you have a sympathetic audience for whatever you want to say about your mental health difficulties;
  • the app is free to use, but is restricted to the over-17s;

Beat Panic

  • Beat Panic (currently available only on Apple devices) has a practical value in helping to combat panic attacks – one of the most common mental health issues involving anxiety;
  • through a series of calming flashcards offering positive advice and actions, it encourages the user to focus on something other than their anxiety or panic, by slowing breathing, lowering heart rate, and releasing tension;
  • the cost per download is £0.99;

Calm

  • if you are after a panic and anxiety-buster that appears to be somewhat more sophisticated, you might try a seven-day free trial of Calm;
  • some of the tools used by this app include meditation, music, sleep, mindfulness in your movements, and images of nature;
  • it is free to download, but you need a subscription to Calm Premium (£29.99 a year) for access to its library of masterclasses, meditation programs, music, and “sleep stories”;

Big White Wall

  • another app based on the value of talking therapy is the soon to be rebranded Big White Wall – giving you anonymous access to a community in which you can share your concerns and worries;
  • what marks out this app, however, is that there are also professionally trained counsellors and therapists on hand for one-to-one consultations;
  • although the app is free to use, access is by individual selection – with priority given to members of the UK armed forces, veterans, their families, and students from many of the country’s universities;

Moodfit

  • according to a review by the website Lifehack, Moodfit is one of the best therapy apps available this year;
  • by continually tracking your mood, Moodfit lets you set your chosen daily targets and goals, using a variety of tools (mindfulness, breathing, and gratitude, for example) to boost any low moods, and to offer insights as to just what might be lifting or dragging down your mood;
  • a basic version of the app is free to download and use, but subscriptions to premium versions are also available;

Chill Panda

  • Chill Panda is an app currently being tested by the NHS which is designed to improve the wellbeing of adults and young children who use it;
  • it uses your phone’s camera to measure the user’s heart rate and the LED light on the device functions to measure the volume of blood flowing through your fingertips;
  • in response to your assessment of your current mood and emotional wellbeing, the app then suggests several light-hearted games, breathing exercises and body movements;

eQuoo

  • another app designed to improve the emotional and mental wellbeing of users is called eQuoo;
  • the app features a range of emotional fitness games designed to foster healthy psychological attitudes and skills;
  • it has scored a top ranking by ORCHA – which provides assessments of health apps;

Sleepio

  • one of the most common symptoms of chronic anxiety lies in difficulty in sleeping;
  • Sleepio is an online course based on a detailed questionnaire about your sleeping patterns and difficulties, followed by weekly consultations with a virtual sleep expert;
  • the app has been subject to clinical trials and assessment by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). It is free to use by all NHS patients living in Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, and Oxfordshire.

Whether you continue to endure the rigours and social deprivation of self-isolation or are worried about a return to any “new normal”, it remains crucial to maintain your mental health and wellbeing. These apps may help you to do just that.

This data is correct as at the time of writing.

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