Most of us know the feeling of Blue Monday all too well (and we’re not talking about a New Order song here). It’s a cold, miserable month right after the holiday season, and bad moods are at an all-time high.
If you’re feeling the January blues coming on and you’re struggling to find motivation and a reason to cheer up, there are some great ways you can put your phone to good use by installing some carefully selected mental health apps.
While mental health apps aren’t meant to replace proper medical care and mental health therapy, they can be a starting point to help you identify how you’re feeling and start moving toward a better space. There are a variety of apps with different offerings, from help with recording anxious thoughts to one-on-one therapy with a trained professional.
We’ve put together a list of popular mental health apps that come highly recommended to help you beat Blue Monday. These programs are not a quick fix or a replacement for professional help, but they are a simple and straightforward way to help you work on yourself when you’re feeling down.
So let’s take a look.
Covering a range of mental health areas, Thrive’s platform has been designed to improve overall mental wellbeing, such as anxiety, stress and low mood.
It helps you monitor your mood and provides insight and educational advice on coping mechanisms so you can better manage stress, bad moods and bad days as and when they happen.
The platform has been developed by British professionals with years of clinical experience, and every coping method in the app uses proven techniques that are easy to learn to help you get back on track.
In addition to monitoring your mood, he can teach you a number of relaxation techniques and uses a mindset training program that is based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), so it’s easier to deal with negative thoughts.
Like Thrive, Sanvello focuses on CBT and mindfulness to provide help in four ways: peer support, self-care, therapy and coaching.
With its smart mood tracker, you can not only record, acknowledge and address your issues as and when they arise, but track potential patterns over time to recognize triggers and make changes to prevent recurrence.
Users can also take advantage of a method called “Guided Journeys” in the app, which takes a long-term approach to help you develop life skills such as controlling negative thoughts. However, for now, the program can also offer short-term solutions and coping strategies to help you overcome a problem or relax – and these solutions are also made for you.
3. Catch him
Despite the strange name (makes you think of a cold, right?), Catch It is a pretty handy app. The platform is designed to help you recognize subtle symptoms of mental health problems such as depression or anxiety, and not only provides educational nuggets on a range of topics, but also tools to help you manage symptoms when you notice them.
The app was developed as a joint project between the Universities of Liverpool and Manchester and aims to encourage users to approach their problems in a new way by turning negative thoughts into positive ones using CBT and proven psychological techniques.
However, it is not a diagnostic tool in and of itself, and if you feel like you’re starting to spiral and are puzzled by the possible symptoms you’re noticing, it’s important to talk to a professional.
If you’ve ever considered therapy, BetterHelp can help. It’s a personalized, convenient way to speak with a licensed therapist from the comfort of your phone or laptop, and the available therapists are experts in a variety of issues that go beyond mental health issues to topics like couples therapy.
When you sign up, the app asks a series of questions to match you with an available therapist that fits your needs, all without the hassle of a face-to-face meeting. All therapists on BetterHelp are trained, qualified and experienced in their fields and can be reached anytime outside of your regular sessions.
It’s a great platform to help you make positive, long-term changes as well as deal with short-term challenges. All at the click of a button.
5. MoodKit (iOS only)
Although MoodKit is only available on iOS, it had to be included in this list just because it’s such a useful tool.
For a small fee, the app offers more than 200 CBT exercises for users that are specifically designed to help manage distorted thinking, improve quality of life through positive action, and channel self-awareness. It’s a great tool to use alongside traditional therapy, but it’s also useful on its own to help identify negative thought patterns, identify triggers, and take responsibility for your own well-being.
Like some of the other apps on this list, MoodKit includes a mood tracker as well as a diary area that can be useful for reflecting on daily thoughts and concerns. It’s also completely secure with Touch or Face ID.
6. Chill Panda
Who knew improving mental health could be fun? Chill Panda uses a unique approach to make it so, with breathing exercises, worry-busting techniques, and more.
In the app, you play the role of Chill Panda – a cute little panda who is anxious to go out into the big world. He goes to talk to the giant panda, and you can help him explore the island by learning to control his senses. The goal is to help you self-regulate so that you can identify the connection between your mental, emotional, and physical feelings and regain control.
While you’re at it, the app can also monitor your heart rate through the camera lens and make suggestions to help improve your current state of mind. Suitable for both kids and adults, it’s definitely the most innovative app to make this list and wins points for its cute panda approach to well-being.
The word “mindfulness” gets thrown around a lot, but Happify based the idea on positive psychology principles that really work.
The app, which is a platform designed to help you identify areas for growth within yourself, then uses a series of goal-directed activities and games to track your goals once you’ve identified them, with over 65 growth tracks to choose from.
The games only take a few minutes and have been designed to help with issues such as low self-esteem, negative thinking or even areas such as achieving career success. The free version of the app has plenty to get you started, and with the paid version, you can turn moments of inactivity into even more mental health productivity to improve your well-being in just two months (according to the app’s creators).
As Google’s 2021 App of the Year, Balance has a lot to offer – not to mention a free annual premium subscription for the first year on Android (at the time of writing).
Designed as a meditation and sleep app to help manage stress and anxiety, the app creates a personalized meditation program for users based on a series of daily questions. With a huge library of audio files, Balance can create a program that suits your needs every day – and the more you use it and the more questions you answer, the more personalized it becomes.
By teaching the basics of meditation at a glance, Balance works to help you step away from your daily routine, focus better, reduce anxiety, and get a good night’s sleep—all with a few simple but proven techniques.