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23 Mental Health Apps for Stress, Anxiety, and More


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While most mental health practitioners probably wouldn’t advise people to spend more time with their smartphones, there are some apps that can turn screen time into time well-spent. These apps provide tools for people looking to improve their lives. Some are designed to help those struggling with issues like depression, anxiety, or PTSD, while others are based on positive psychology and aim to increase focus, happiness, and calm through mindfulness and meditation.
If you are struggling with your mental health, it is important to first seek help from a doctor, psychologist, or mental health practitioner. These apps are not meant to be a substitute for face-to-face care. But, they could be a great supplement to therapy, or a super-convenient strategy for someone looking to start new, healthier habits.
Here, find some of the best apps in the mental health space.

Best for Meditation

 

 

Headspace

 

Headspace is a great and simple app for both beginning meditators looking to learn as well as more advanced meditators who want to deepen their practice. It offers a meditation series that address various topics, like anxiety, stress, sleep, and physical exercise.
It has a wide array of features including “sleep casts,” which are unique, soothing audio experiences to help you drift off, 2-3-minute mini-meditations to help you quickly achieve a mental shift, “SOS” meditations designed to help you during moments of intense stress or emotion, and educational animations to clearly explain and demonstrate mindfulness and meditation topics.

Insight Timer

 

More than six million people use the free meditation app Insight Timer. It offers courses on how to meditate, a fan-favorite meditation timer (for those who prefer unguided meditations), and more than 15,000 guided meditations (including for sleep) with renowned teachers like Tara Brach, Jack Kornfield, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Kristin Neff.
It will also track your progress and streaks with neat charts. What type of meditation works best for you is incredibly personal, and this app is great for people who are still figuring out what sorts of meditations they prefer and the types of voices and guides that are most beneficial to them.

Smiling Mind

 

Smiling Mind was the brainchild of two mindfulness and meditation enthusiasts in Australia. They set out to make mindfulness and meditation accessible to everyone, whatever their budget, and wherever they might be. All you need is 10 minutes a day. This app offers guided meditations for adults and kids, for use at home, at school, and even at work.

INSCAPE

 

INSCAPE has a brick and mortar meditation studio in New York City, but regardless of where you are in the world, with its app, you can focus on the areas in your life that you’re most looking to improve. Depending on whether you’d like to de-stress, sleep better, boost your confidence, or be more efficient at work, INSCAPE will suggest a practice that will be most beneficial to your goals. Sessions include breathing exercises, guided positive visualizations, meditations, and more.

Best for Stress

 

 

Stop, Breathe, Think

 

This app was created by the folks at the nonprofit Tools For Peace, which teaches mindfulness and meditation to inner-city teens. Developed for adults, teens, and kids, it is perfect when for when you’re overwhelmed by intense emotions like anxiety, stress, sadness, or anger. When you notice intense feelings arise, you can turn to the app, and it guides you through the practice of stopping, calming your mind and body through breathing, observing your thoughts, and then participating in a short meditation.

Calm

 

An Apple Best of 2018 award winner, Calm’s offerings run the gamut from Master Classes (on things like creativity and holistic health) and guided videos on stretching, to sleep stories (think soothing bedtime stories for grownups) and meditation series that address specific areas in life, like anxiety, focus, self-esteem, and self-care. There are meditations for college students and meditations and sleep stories for kids as well. Each day, there is a new “Daily Calm” meditation with a different theme, and you can track the number of days and minutes you meditate.

Aura

 

This app pairs your current mental state with the best meditation or relaxation strategies to help you reduce stress and anxiety as well as increase happiness. Aura offers guided meditations, relaxing nature sounds, short stories to redirect your worrying mind, tranquil music, a place to note things you’re grateful for, and more.

PTSD Coach

 

Created by the Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD and the U.S. Department of Defense National Center for Telehealth and Technology, PTSD Coach is designed to assist people who suffer from—or who may suffer from—post-traumatic stress disorder. It offers a self-assessment to help determine whether you may be suffering from PTSD, resources on how to reach out and get professional care, and tools to help manage the stresses of day-to-life. There are relaxation exercises and activities to help with anger management as well as positive self-talk.

Best for Mindfulness

 

 

Happier

 

Happier was created to be a “personal mindfulness coach,” and to help you observe and regulate your emotions throughout the day while maximizing joy, peace, and happiness. It offers inspirational quotes, meditation exercises, a place to record things for which you’re grateful, courses on happiness and well-being, and an opportunity to communicate with likeminded people who are also using the app.

The Mindfulness App

 

The aim of The Mindfulness App is to make the practice of mindfulness accessible to everyone. Research has shown that many of the benefits of mindfulness and meditation happen with consistent practice, but many people struggle to remember or make time each day. This app offers gentle reminders throughout the day, guided meditations for both experienced and novice meditators (as well as those in between), and timers for those who prefer silent meditation.

10% Happier: Meditation

 

This app, which claims to be “for fidgety skeptics,” was created by Dan Harris, a broadcast journalist and the author of the book, 10% Happier. The app aims to demystify meditation and offers simple hacks to help aspiring meditators follow through. There are how-to videos, guided sessions geared towards topics like anxiety and political stress, advice for how to maintain a regular meditation practice as well as how to apply the lessons learned in mindfulness throughout your day.

Buddhify

 

Instead of taking time out of your day to meditate, Buddhify aims to seamlessly weave meditation into your life wherever you are—both physically and emotionally. All of the meditations offered, which range from just four minutes up to 30 minutes, are categorized so that you can find the perfect one for the moment you’re in.
There are sessions that are great for walking or taking a break from work, others for when you may be feeling intense anxiety, and more still for when you are trying to go to sleep. There are also medications that can be done with other people—like friends, family, or coworkers—and you can also send meditations to people whom you think might benefit from one, even if they don’t have the app.


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