Apps that help mental health

The teenage brain is more susceptible to mental illnesses because of the changes made during this time period. Apps can help students cope with the mental problems they are struggling with. (Photo courtesy: My Teen Life)

By the age of six, the brain is about 90-95% the size of an adult brain. When a child enters puberty, the brain completes its development. Throughout this stage, the brain becomes more efficient through “the ‘use it or lose it’ principle,” according to raisingchildren.net.

Researchers believe that adolescent brain is more susceptible to anxiety and depression because of the changes the brain makes during this time period. The changes, or complete remodeling, rewire the brain making it more susceptible to mental illnesses because “wires” are left unconnected as changes progress.

High school is a huge stressor for teenagers. Schools are not completely oblivious to the mental strain adolescents face though. During their freshman and senior years, students watch presentations about mental illnesses and how to find help. Although these presentations are made, they don’t cater to the uniqueness of the teen and their problems. In addition, many don’t want to enter therapy or therapy is too expensive. Thus, the creation of self care apps.

One app that helps relieve anxiety is Calm. When you open the app, the first thing the user is asked to do is “take a deep breath.” Once inside, you can customize a sound with a relating visual as your home screen– I chose a crackling fire. You can change the setting by clicking the mountains in the upper right corner.

At the bottom of the screen, there are three options to help users relax. One, music, two, meditate, and three, sleep. In order to access everything in the app, app members have to pay a yearly fee of $59.99, but in my opinion, the free options are just as good.

My personal favorite is the sleep option. When you press the moon in the bottom right corner, a list of “sleep stories” appear. Usually right before bed, my mind often races with a thousand thoughts and worries, making it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. The stories distract your mind from the sleep-prohibiting thoughts. From personal experience, I never remember the story and wake up the next morning feeling well rested. They knock you out. The best part is, the app turns off your phone automatically once the story finishes.

The meditation part of the app allows the user to cater their meditation to their needs whether it’s anxiety, focus, relationships, emotions, personal growth, and so much more. Over all, this app really helps calm the user and prepare them for a night of rest.

Another app is Calm Harm. Calm Harm is a distraction based app for those that have feelings of self harm. When you enter the app, there is a short introduction. It basically states “The urge to self-harm is like a wave. It feels the most powerful when you start wanting to do it… learn to surf the wave…[and] the urge will fade.”

To access the activity table, users press the button reading “ride the wave.” Once inside, you can select an activity type based on what you need– comfort, distract, express yourself, release, or breathe. Your choice then has two options: a five minute or 15 minute activity. After selecting your time, a list of different activities pop up that you can choose from.

This app is perfect when thoughts are racing during the day. You can take a short break, complete an activity, and refocus.

Mental health is important and it is important to take care of yourself. High school is a stressful period in an adolescent’s life and these apps can help alleviate the pressure.

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