Health & Wellness

5 Mental Health Apps for Students

A phone with earphones plugged in sits on a desk.

There are lots of reasons you should be monitoring your mental health at this time of the year. While a new semester can be exciting, it also means adjustment. The (supposedly) most depressing day of the year (Blue Monday) was only last week. We’re nearing February, which means it’s (mostly?) cold, and on top of that, 80 per cent of New Year’s resolutions will fail by next month according to U.S. News (is yours one of them?). I suspect this is leaving some students feeling stressed out or deflated.

With all the health apps on the market, I decided to turn to tech for some help. This week I put a few to the test to see if I would notice any improvements in my mood and overall mental wellbeing. The result is a list of cool apps for you to try out when you need a little “me time”, meditation or de-stress tools. I’ve also rated them on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the highest, for the categories of “ease of use”, “effectiveness”, and “personalization”.

1. Headspace

My friend recommended this one to me but it also got great reviews online, and I’m here to add another positive one. Headspace is a meditation app that focuses on training your mind and applying mindfulness to everyday activities. I tried the Take 10 program – which is free and takes 10 minutes per day to complete. It really gets you to focus on your breathing, environment and self awareness, and I definitely felt relaxed after the 10 minute sessions. What I really thought made this app worth the download was the categories. They’ve got meditation for everything from relationships to depression, self-esteem and stress. You can also track your progress and team up with friends so you can encourage each other.

Ease of Use = 4   |   Effectiveness = 4   |Personalization = 4

2. Learn2Breathe

Studies have shown that breathing patterns are linked to emotions, therefore changing the way you breathe can change your emotions. So a good deep breathing app was essential for me to include on this list. Learn2Breathe is my pick because it does this job well. You get to practice breathing by following along with the breathing meter. A calm voice guides you through the exercises while relaxing nature photos pop up on the screen. It’s also extremely straightforward to use. I did wish there was more variation on the exercises but overall its really great for simple deep breathing, especially for a free app.

Ease of Use = 5   |   Effectiveness = 3.5   |   Personalization = 3

3. SAM

SAM is an anxiety management app with some pretty great options. You can log your anxiety levels and it will graph it for you to show you any patterns in your anxiety. SAM includes a button called “Help for anxiety NOW,” which gives you instant advice, a breathing exercise and a nature photograph to help you feel at peace.

Ease of Use = 4   |   Effectiveness = 4   |   Personalization = 5

4. Pacifica

This app uses elements of relaxation, therapy and health to reduce stress. They’ve also got meditation exercises in useful categories to help you get through your day – whether it’s social anxiety, public speaking, or public transit anxiety. The cool feature on the app is the community feature, where you can connect with a supportive community of people discussing mental health issues through forums on tons of topics.

Ease of Use = 4   |   Effectiveness = 4   |   Personalization = 4

5. Talkspace

I haven’t personally purchased the subscription to this one, so I couldn’t test out all the features, but I decided to include it because I love the idea of having an on-call therapist on your phone. Talkspace connects users with over 200 licensed therapists and allows you to get matched with a therapist to chat via messages. It’s not a substitute for in-person therapy, but I think it could be especially useful for those concerned about getting help immediately.

Ease of Use = 4   |   Effectiveness = 4   |   Personalization = 5

 

Do you have any resources you’d like to add to this list? Let us know @RUStudentLife.

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Robyn Fiorda
Robyn is a fourth-year journalism student who likes writing about business and lifestyle stories. Her hobbies include photography, painting, devouring chick-lit novels and figure skating. You can follow her on Twitter @robynfiorda.