It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and while the event may run for seven days between May 15 and May 21 this year, it’s never a bad time to become more mindful or look introspectively to find some peace amidst the chaos of life.
There are, of course, dozens of ways to do this, but there’s no “one-size fits all” process - for every person that swears by yoga, there’s another that insists the secret to managing mental health is to go to bed early.
This means that narrowing down apps that help your mental health is a very personal process, and may take some time. Rather than highlight our picks, we’ve selected a trio of iPhone apps that can kickstart your journey - some users may find them as an ideal solution, while others may use them as a springboard into new options entirely.
Whatever your path may be, here are some of our favorite apps to help manage your mental health.
Headspace is a great place to start this list, because it acts a little like a “Swiss army knife” for mindfulness. It’s bursting with useful tools, and while you may find some more useful than others, it never hurts to try something new.
Headspace is focused on meditation, and will gently ease you into a series of exercises step-by-step. That makes it a great “first mindfulness app”, with a focus on finding peace in the eye of the storm and taking that peace wherever you go - be that in your personal or professional life.
With a variety of teachings and programs that remain fairly brisk (Headspace prides itself on working around your schedule), you can move through the exercises until you reach more advanced techniques around anger, stress, or even getting a better night’s sleep.
You will have to pay, however - after the free trial, there’s no free content in Headspace, so you’ll need to spend $12.99 per month or $69.99 a year.
Not a mental health app in the traditional sense, Dark Noise does one thing and does it very well - it fills the silence with whatever noise you choose from its extensive (and ever-growing) list.
If you want to be alone with your own thoughts but hate the thought of silence, or are just looking to nod off to a sound at a certain pitch that feels soothing, you may be surprised by what Dark Noise can offer.
There are options for rain sounds, gentle rivers, windchimes, campfires, and even a spaceship engine. If you’re feeling a little lonely working from home, there’s even the option to add office chatter.
The real killer feature, however, is the ability to create your own mixes. For this writer, it’s a mix of “Drippy Rain”, “Distant Thunder” and “Windy Trees”, but there’s so much flexibility that you may be surprised by how useful you find its palette of noises.
The app recently moved to a subscription model, so you can grab Dark Noise 3.0 for free and pay $2.99 per month or $19.99 per year to unlock more than the basic sounds. You can also pay a one-time fee of $49.99, and the app runs on iPhone, iPad, and Mac.
Better Help puts a therapist in your pocket, and while that may be a massive oversimplification of the service, it’s not entirely inaccurate.
Users sign up and complete a questionnaire that will then match them with a licensed therapist, of which there are more than 30,000 registered with Better Help. These run the gamut from couples therapy to grief counselors, to much more, and you can message them whenever you’d like while also being able to schedule weekly meetings over the phone or via video call.
Messages and conferencing with therapists within the app are secure too, so you don’t have to worry about your data being collected, and you even get access to group webinars to discuss things openly and learn more - if you choose to.
Better Help packages start at $60 per week, but you may be surprised how much you get from each interaction, and while that sounds expensive it’s considerably cheaper than meeting someone face to face.
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Lloyd Coombes is a freelance writer with a specialism in Apple tech. From his first, hand-me-down iMac, he’s been working with Apple products for over a decade, and while he loves his iPhone and Mac, the iPad will always have his heart for reasons he still can’t quite fathom.
Since moving from blogging to writing professionally, Lloyd’s work can be found at TechRadar, Macworld, TechAdvisor and plenty more.
He’s also the Editor in Chief at GGRecon.com, and on the rare occasion he’s not writing you’ll find him spending time with his son, or working hard at the gym (while wearing an Apple Watch, naturally). You can find him on Twitter @lloydcoombes.