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Can an app help your mental health?

One in four people around the world is affected by mental illnesses. In the post-Covid era, with the rise of digital health solutions, health apps are becoming an increasingly useful way to tackle a range of health issues – including mental health. Five million people are downloading health apps every day and the NHS has recognised the benefits of some of these apps and has an Apps Library to distinguish the gold standard certified apps from the rest. The list has a range including BlueIce, which reduces urges to self-harm to eQuoo an ’emotional fitness game’ which uses adventure games designed by psychologists to increase emotional fitness. In light of World Mental Health Day 2021, the ZPB team share the apps which they feel support their mental health.

 

Grow a tree while having screen-free time

“I use an app called Forest. It is designed to stop you using your phone during focus time, but I primarily use it to stop using my phone in the evenings to get a screen break and a break from social media etc. You set a time that you want to be unable to use your phone for and in that time the app will grow a little tree in that time. If you use any other app on your phone or leave the Forest app in that time the tree will die. For each tree you grow you get coins which you can then use to have a real tree planted by Trees for the Future so there is some environmental benefit to it too.”

Anne Janssen

 

Make Insta your happy place

“I know Instagram is not a popular choice in terms of mental health and I can totally understand why some people find it leading them on a merry dance. Instagram can be a cruel mistress and needs a firm hand. I have a simple two strikes rule.  If an account annoys me more than twice it is immediately unfollowed – no questions. Reece Witherspoon, multiple talking dogs and a couple of ultra-self-aware fashionistas have all fallen foul of this simple but effective rule. I mainly follow normal non-talking dogs, restaurants, van-lifers, book shops and sea/ocean charities which are all calming ways to spend a micro-break.”

Rachel Allan

 

Train your brain to relieve the strain

“I like playing games like Wordscapes and brain training, as it just gives me the opportunity to switch off from anything stressful whilst still engaging my brain. I usually play them on the train to distract me and pass the time, especially on the way home when I’m tired.”

Hannah Ingham

 

Experience the calming effects of white noise

“I use an app called White Noise which provides a range of different background noises that help me get to sleep and calm me down. My personal favourites are the fan noise or aeroplane cabin. Unfortunately, getting used to this app has meant I struggle to fall asleep in silence which can be inconvenient!”

Juliette Cosgrove

 

Love the family group chat

“I’ve decided my mental health app is WhatsApp: it’s how I stay in touch with my friends and family. It was especially important while I was at university when I wouldn’t see family for months and over lockdown to stay in touch with friends.”

Alicia Bossey

 

Change your relationship with food

Noom is an app used for weight loss. It counts the calories and nudges you to log in as you would expect, but for me, the most interesting part of it was the approach to behaviour change. The daily bite-sized lessons helped me understand more about my relationship with food and understand more about the connection with emotional eating. For me it helped me be aware of what I was putting into my body – and why. I lost 3.5kg which made me feel good too!”

Gita Mendis

 

Compiled by Juliette Cosgrove