Written By: Emma Ur, Administrative Assistant
We are lucky enough to live in a time with technological advances happening every day – from smaller creations that add convenience to our everyday lives, to monumental discoveries in the medical field that save lives, and everything in between. I would say the invention of the smart phone, and the apps that come along with it, falls in the “in between” category. These days, there is an app for virtually anything you can think of. In my earlier college days, I discovered quite a few apps that simply made my life easier (shout out to Uber and Grubhub). But as I was rounding out my time as an undergrad, I was introduced by my peers to the plethora of apps out there that can aide any person in their mental health journey. Listed below are a few (free!) apps I tested out and categorized by what they assist with:
*Disclaimer: While I do not recommend using apps as a replacement for mental health care and treatment by any means, they can seriously help you in between appointments and sessions, as well as in your day-to-day life. *
Headspace: I’m just going to start off by saying I use this app every day and I am obsessed! Meditation was never something that came easy to me, but this app really walks you through it in a super simple and relaxing way. You can set how long or short you want your meditations to be, and there’s also different “packs” that cater to different needs and scenarios, such as managing anxiety or feeling restless. Though the overall app is free, the packs are only free for the first 30 sessions, and then you do have to subscribe to get full access of the app. My favorite part about this is there’s a section that specially caters to kids! So if your little one struggles with focusing, sleep, or nerves, you can sit through these guided sessions with them. Meditation and mindfulness are beneficial to anyone, at any age or stage in your life, and I would highly recommend you give this app a try.
Calm: This app also works wonders if you are a beginner to the guided meditation world, and gives you the opportunity to work your way up to a more advance level of the practice. Like Headspace, you can choose which interval of time for your meditation, ranging from 3 to 25 minutes, allowing some time for self-care, while also keeping yourself on schedule. What I really loved about this app was the “Sleep Stories” feature; the name is self-explanatory, but as someone who always struggles falling (and staying) asleep, I was pleasantly surprised how effective they were! There’s also a section with a collection of breathing exercises, which is perfect for when you need a quick time-out from life, but don’t need to go in full meditation mode. While these two apps are very similar, they are also different in a lot of ways, so if you’re not clicking with one, give the other a try!
Moodpath: When searching for this in the App Store, underneath of the name it reads “your mental health companion”; which is the absolute best way I could describe this app. It was made specifically for detecting symptoms of depression, however after reading reviews, I learned that Moodpath has been incredibly helpful to people with other diagnoses as well. The Apple App Store describes it as “an interactive mental health screening and improvement program”. Essentially, once you download this app, it asks you a range of questions at different points in your day regarding your emotional well-being. It then checks in with you daily over the course of two weeks, in order to properly track your mood; at the end of it all you will be given a personal assessment that will assist (key word here) in predicting whether or not you show signs of depression. The great thing about this app is this assessment can be available as a pdf, which you can there share with a mental health professional, who could then use this as a baseline in your diagnosis. I believe this app is best used alongside therapy, but should definitely not be used to self-diagnose.
Daylio: This app is another one of my personal favorites. If you’re into the new bullet journal craze, I would describe this as having very similar aspects, but as a virtual version. First of all, Daylio gets an A+ for aesthetics because is equipped with super cute emojis to represent the mood you’re feeling, and these emojis are then color-coded, so you can easily track your mood in the app’s built in calendar. This app is perfect for someone with a busy lifestyle, because it allows you to keep a personal journal without having to type anything out! All you have to do is pick your mood and activities for that day and Daylio does the rest. Everything you enter is compiled in an easy to track format via the calendar and statistics section, allowing you to be more aware of habits and patterns, thus being able to do something about the ones you want to change. This app is definitely user-friendly for all ages, and I would recommend it to anyone who is trying to make a change in their life.
These two apps essentially do the same thing: remind you to take your medication. This can be very important, for depending on what your treatment plan is, you may need to take some medications at certain times of the day, or on a busy day, you may need to be reminded that you already took a medication so you don’t accidently double up. I would highly recommend both of these apps, especially to families with children taking medication, or to someone who is taking multiple medications. Though they both have the same purpose, they do share some differences:
Medisafe: I would classify Medisafe as a “no frills” app; it’s straight and to the point. Ranked as #1 by pharmacists and physicians, this app gets the job done. It is extremely user friendly, from children to elderly, everyone should be able to benefit from how visually simple the layout is. Once set up, it will remind you to take your medicine on time, every time. Not only does it track your medications, but it also syncs to the Health app that comes with Apple products (this app is also available on Android and other brand phones), allowing you to see your glucose levels, blood pressure, pulse, etc. while you’re taking a certain medication. If you’d like someone to keep you accountable, you can add a friend or family member who will be notified when you are supposed to take your medicine, to help you from missing a dose. This app also gives you access to coupons for pharmacies, and reminds you when you’re in need of a refill! Medisafe is definitely ranked #1 for a reason.
Mango Health: If you want your medicine reminders to be a little less clinical and a little more fun, this app is for you! You’d never think taking care of yourself could be not only fun and easy, but also rewarding. Yes, this app’s main function is to keep you on schedule with your medication(s), but it does so much more! Similar to the Fitbit craze, Mango Health gives you points for each day you complete a task, i.e. take your medicine correctly; these points unlock rewards, which range from gift cards to donations to different charities. You can also set healthy reminders for yourself such as drink water or track your food. The app will automatically keep a log of everything, which makes referencing your health and medication history so much easier at your appointments. One feature that I think is super important is Mango Health will alert you if there are any drug interactions with any of the medications you’ve entered, as well as compiling a list of possible side effects of medications. I don’t know about you, but I love an app that makes something more fun than it actually is, so this app gets an A+ in my book.