Mental Health Apps: LifeWorks Staff Favorites

Staff Favorites is a monthly installation for 2019 featuring the mental health and self care picks of our very own LifeWorkers. Favorites in 2019 will highlight apps, books, self-soothing items, blogs/instagrams, places to move your body around Chicago, and more personally endorsed by LifeWorks staff. Our thanks to Elizabeth Duke for organizing this new installation!

This month LifeWorkers are sharing their favorite mental health apps! Obviously these apps are no substitute for therapy, but they can be an excellent additional tool to facilitate self reflection, help guide mindful meditations, track moods, and more. We hope that you will all share your favorites as well!

 

Matt Amador:

HEADSPACE  Offers guided meditations, available in 3, 5, and 10 minute sessions to accommodate a busy schedule. Some meditations are for purchase, but plenty are free — available for anyone seeking out mindfulness on a budget.

THE SAFE PLACE  According to it’s creator, Jasmin Pierre (2019) THE SAFE PLACE is “a free app specifically addressing the lack of mental health awareness within the black community. THE SAFE PLACE brings together culturally-informed resources, inspirational media, and educational materials together for people of color to be more educated on their mental health and ultimately know they’re not alone,”

 

Greenlee Brown:


BOOSTER BUDDY  This is an excellent app for anyone who struggles with executive functioning.

Here’s how it works: you select a furry friend (mine’s a little red fox!) who naps quietly in the app until you “wake” them by completing “quests”. Every morning (or whenever you remember to do it), you go to the app and check-in. The check-in is geared toward specific info/goals that you provide upon signing up. So for example, if you take meds every morning, you can set up a reminder and complete a daily check-in. Other quests include: thinking of friends to call when you’re feeling low, coming up with a crisis plan, breathing exercises, writing down a short list of healthy foods you could eat, etc. I use this almost every day and it really helps break down daunting feelings into little tasks.

#SELFCARE  This is an app I use on extremely low-functioning days, because it’s geared toward radical acceptance and slowing down in order to heal.

The entire app is just an aerial view of a person’s bedroom, and your “job” in the app is to interact with different objects in the room that are there to help you self-soothe. So for example, you can touch a head massager in the room, and then the app will shift to give you a pattern to repeatedly touch with your fingers. Or you can select a tarot card from a deck on the floor of the bedroom to get a little mantra and explanation of what the card means. There’s even a cat that you can pet and nuzzle to make it purr. This app is perfect for days when staying in bed is all you can do, and it’s helped me remember to be gentle and slow.

GOLDEN THREAD TAROT This is not a mental health app, per se, but I love its simplicity, and it’s a nice ritual to do when you’re on your phone anyway.

The app is set up so that you can draw one random card each day. Once your card is drawn, the app provides an explanation of its suit and whether it’s major or minor arcana, along with a brief description of what the card could be pointing to in your life. After you draw the card, you can “log” it in the app and track the ways that the card made you feel: you select words like “anxious” or “hopeful” or “rejuvenated” from a word bank, and then the app turns that into a line graph that will show your mood has changed from day to day. This is really good for someone like me, who often can’t figure out what I’m feeling until I get a little outside context.

THE PATTERN This is by far the least scientific app, but it’s often extremely accurate anyways, and I like to use it when I’m struggling to widen my perspective.

The app works based on your astrological info, so you put in that data, and then it identifies a number of different “patterns” that you might be experiencing in your life. Within each of these breakdowns are short paragraphs about what you might be going through, what obstacles and relationships you might be struggling with, and reminders to slow down and not try to make everything your responsibility. If you love astrology, you’ll love it, and I find it really interesting to read the small explanations of what larger parts of my personality are affecting my life.

 

Betsy Duke & Pat Cochran:

CALM  A meditation app reminding us that we can all find at least two minutes to focus on our breathing and calm ourselves down.

What I love about CALM is that even in the free version you can set this app up to send you reminders to focus on your breathing throughout the day. The app will send you a text reminder such as “ are you ready for a moment of calm?” You can personalize each meditation, and the best part about it is that you can select times as short as two minutes. For those of us who struggle with time management or exhaustion as a status symbol, two minutes of meditation can make a big difference.

 

Betsy Duke:

PACIFICA This app has made waves on many news sites as the “Number One App for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression” and it doesn’t disappoint. This app uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) methods and theory in order to help users track their moods, find time for daily reflection, notice patterns, and make meaningful changes to thinking and behavior. It’s no substitute for traditional psychotherapy, but the focus on mindfulness and distress tolerance is a close second and I recommend it constantly!

 

Cindy Trawinski:

SIMPLE HABIT  I love this app and use its free meditations all the time.  Becasue they have an intuitive and easy to navigate menu, I find the relaxation starts right away!  This app offers each meditation for  5, 10 or 20 minutes duration.  In addition, the navigation wheel helps you to zero in onthe mediation that might be best for very different situations and needs. Can’t say enough about it. I often recommend to friends as well as clients.

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About Elizabeth Duke, Psy.D.

Elizabeth Duke joined the LifeWorks Psychotherapy team in July 2015. She has been trained as an Equine Assisted Psychotherapist and also has had a therapy dog. Clients who are experiencing depression, loss, or long standing difficulties in relationships sometimes find a therapy animal can offer a unique channel of healing that may not require words. Elizabeth is a member of the American Psychological Association; Division 32, Society for Humanistic Psychology; Division 44, Society for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues; and Kink & Poly Aware Chicago Therapists (KPACT).