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Quality, Free Mental Health Apps Everyone Should Use
Mobile apps are flourishing in all categories and nowhere is this more true than in the area of mental health.
Mood-focused and other mental health apps abound. One company that is making high-quality, free applications for the mobile platform is The National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2), an organization in the Department of Defence (DoD).
Don’t let the connection with the DoD scare you though, these apps are high-quality, research-based and helpful for virtually anyone’s mental health.
T2 Mobile Mental Health Applications
T2 makes several applications. Here are a few I really like:
Breathe2Relax: a simple application focusing on deep, diaphragm breathing. This type of breathing is a proven relaxation technique and can help anyone suffering from anxiety (including posttraumatic stress disorder) or feeling stressed out—in other words, everyone. Breathe2Relax shows you via video how to properly breathe diaphragmatically, educates about the biology of stress, walks you aurally and visually through a breathing cycle and tracks the results.
LifeArmor: an educational application that is designed for service members, but I think is helpful to the mental health community in general. It covers topics that affect people with a mental illness like depression, families and relationships, life stress, resilience and others. LifeArmor contains, literally, hundreds of pages and videos of educational material. Each topic contains many useful subtopics that teach skills and educate on subjects like problem-solving, assertiveness, conflict resolution, and others. Moreover, each topic contains an assessment to see how that subject, such as depression or substance use, is affecting you. LifeArmor offers advice based on the assessment. Tools that address each topic are also provided. Some topics are more relevant to military service personnel but the vast majority are relevant to anyone with mental health concerns.
Positive Activity Jackpot: an interesting little app that is designed to suggest positive activities that you can do to fight the symptoms of mental illnesses like depression. Some activities are doable at any time like walking barefoot or fishing with a friend. Other activities are local. You simply point your phone in any direction and the app tells you what you can do locally (it’s really cool). Most activities are free and Positive Activity Jackpot suggests a friend you should do them with. It tracks what activities you’ve done and what you like.
T2 Mood Tracker: this is the app that originally got my attention. People are always looking for a good mood tracker and this is one of the best. This mood tracker tracks several variables through multiple rating scales. For example, depression is a variable and within it are scales that track worthlessness, fatigue, distractibility, and personal safety. Best of all, the T2 Mood Tracker allows you to input your own variables and rating scales so you can track what is personally relevant to you. The results are then available on a graph. If you saw version one of this app, you’ll recognize all the same features in version two but version two is a slicker experience that additionally includes the ability to create and export reports.
As I mentioned, all of these apps are free and they each take very little time to set up so I encourage people to download them and give them a try. Apps are available for the iPhone and Android. And keep in mind, in the apps that keep track of variables like the T2 Mood Tracker, you can output those reports and share them with your doctor or therapist to help them better understand what you go through with on a daily basis.
No mental health application can take the place of professional, mental illness help, of course, but they’re excellent supplements and I say people with mental illness can use all the help they can get.