It’s not a licensed psychologist, but these mental health apps work relatively well enough.
Now more than ever, we’re realising that looking after your mental health is essential. Often played down and often neglected, people are starting to realise that mental health is just as important as any other health aspect of your life. Ease of access is what most of us look for – and having mental health apps on your phone is as easy as it can get. We tried and tested five mental health apps, and here is what we think.
1. MINDHOUSE: for those who like to meditate
Mindhouse, started by Zomato co-founder Pankaj Chaddah and ex-Zomato chief of staff Pooja Khanna, is a fairly new entrant to the mental wellbeing sector. Mindhouse started with offline studios offering live meditation classes in December 2019 and quickly pivoted to a digital offering.
After the download and the sign-in, the app asked me to choose one or more of the five goals it set out – sleep, focus, patience, relaxed body, and a relaxed mind. I opted to try meditation for a relaxed mind. Since the app offers two weeks of free access, I could explore everything on offer. The goals you choose have milestones in the form of classes and sessions to attend, and you can record and save your progress. I signed up for a half-hour session of the Relaxed Mind session and a 50 minute Sound bath session, which promised to help me sleep well. While I did sleep well, the anxiousness came down just a notch. But then, it’s my first time and session.
For those still exploring meditation, like I am, the section titled Do Now is great, as it offers short 10-minute voice-guided sessions for calming the mind, enhancing productivity, and sleeping well. Since this is primarily voice-led, I appreciated the clear diction and gentle tone of the trainers as well, though I would personally have liked Indian voices. The background music in the sessions is especially soothing. The interface is classy and simple to use.
At the end of your trial, you can choose from a strong selection of packages to meet your goals. These can be changed along the way too. Perhaps the only downside is that cancelling a session you have booked has to be done three hours in advance or else remains chargeable. But if you look at the positive side, it ensures you make time and no excuses to miss the class.
2. BEING: For those interested in spirituality
Here’s an app that opens up with two simple words – Just Be. And that alone can make you smile. Being helps you work on several aspects. The app asks you to choose ten or more goals to work towards in the areas of awareness, choice, ego, fear, feelings, love, relationship, and success. The next step is to choose from a range of spiritual titles — I selected Beyond Religion by the Dalai Lama, Grist of the Mill by Ram Dass, and Pocket Peace by Allan Lockos. You can choose from several spiritual leaders that you may want to read from and then add on some soothing music too. Based on how you are feeling, you get a choice of reading material with some lovely music to go with it. The reading is not extensive, but short passages that work towards making you feel better.
3. DAYLIO: for those seeking a more mindful lifestyle
As a youngster, I was often told to write down what I feel to help me feel better. It could a happy, sad, frightening, exciting thought or experience, and the entire gamut of feelings in between. Among the mental health apps listed here, Daylio works on this principle.
Signing up is a simple affair. You are asked to assign emoticons and colours to the emotions you are feeling. You then choose from a set of goals that you want to achieve – from working better to sleeping better, eating better, overall being more mindful, and more. You can then set reminders and enter what you have done or felt in the categories you have chosen. You can set alarms to remind you.
For the goals you set, the app asks how you are feeling for the day, what you have been up to – all with emoticons to evaluate what you have done for the day. It can be saved as a note. The app gives you your space and does not write you up if you don’t make an entry for the day, and that is a feature I appreciated.
A free trial is of a week-long following which you have to take up a subscription. I prefer not to have to upload my card details for a free trial, but am sure many don’t mind at all.
4. PINKYMIND: For those seeking expert advice
Sometimes, all you need is someone to listen to what you have to say, and this is where PinkyMind delivers. Off the bat, you see the option of Let’s Talk that immediately helps you book a session. The app has a quick evaluation chat – where you can go by a pseudonym if you would like to. The chat did feel a bit bot-like, and I was given four options of counsellors who could help me with my anxiety issues. Experts are available for not just common issues but also specifically for teenagers, sexuality, LGBTQ issues, career counselling, alternate therapy. I particularly liked the inclusion of a category called ‘Listeners’. These are specialists, available to listen to you in multiple languages.
What I appreciated about the app is that it did not take me through a sign-up process to explore it. It gives you the option of accessing it all with an OTP to your phone. The interface is pleasant with animated icons, which to me felt fun and eased the anxiety of trying an app for mental peace.
The app offers a tracker to help you record your progress. Anonymity is assured, and the website says that it will return your money if unsatisfied.
The app is currently only available on Playstore
5. MIND.FIT FROM CURE.FIT: For those who want to sleep better
Logging into the Cure.fit app is a simple process. You can start with a 14-day trial, which is always a great option to have when trying out a mental health app. A single log-in also gives you access to other services from Cure.fit. Mental health packages and sessions are curated around stress, relationships, sleep, self-improvement, focus, anxiety, and depression.
I looked through the pre-recorded mindfulness library and thoroughly liked the Sleep Stories segment. The narrator has an Indian accent (a huge plus for me), calming diction, and the overall impact is that of soothing the nerves. Certainly helped with the sleep factor as well. There are several packs available that you can download and do offline, another plus. ‘Saying Yes to Life’ is one I chose to try out, and it had sessions for relationships, embracing opportunities, and getting out of your comfort zone.
Each session for an average of 15 minutes. For those of you who appreciate a good session of yoga, several sessions, categorised from beginners to advanced levels are available. It’s nice to see that the app has kept with the need of the hour with their session Emotional Health in Global Crisis. It provides simple insights and practices for these tough times. You can also book yourself for one on one counselling sessions with experts available through the app.
This article first appeared on Lifestyle Asia India