Busy season: Mental health apps to keep accountants well
As accountants trudge through the mental health hazard that is January, Maddy Christopher summarises the top wellbeing apps to help ease the stressful side-effects of self assessment season.
Thrive: An NHS recommended mental wellbeing platform for managing stress, anxiety and days when you are just feeling a little low. Thrive helps users track their moods and teaches the best coping mechanisms for managing down days. Thrive helps you prevent sadness, negative thoughts and related conditions. The game-based app can be used to relax before a stressful situation or on a more regular basis to maintain a happier, more stress-free life.
Feeling Good: positive mindset (free on iOS and Android) – Promoted by the NHS, the app helps relax body and mind with a series of audio tracks designed to help you build confidence, energy and a positive mindset.
eQuoo: The free NHS-approved emotional fitness game uses adventures designed by psychologists to help increase emotional fitness and teach new psychological skills. It offers tips on how to communicate more effectively and maintain mental wellbeing.
Qualified therapist sessions
Babylon: For £49 per session or £149 a year, the Babylon app offers virtual video therapy sessions with registered behavioural therapists. The service also includes access to healthcare information, medical prescriptions and appointments with qualified GPs via your mobile. However, Babylon is currently only available on iOS.
Anxiety and stress management
WorryTree: Free and NHS-approved, WorryTree helps control worry on-the-go via an interactive online journal. The app uses cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques to help you notice and challenge your worries. It can also help you create an action plan for managing worry.
Chill Panda: Free on iOS and Google Play, Chill Panda is aimed at the overworked, run-down or those who have heightened feelings of fear and anxiety. The app offers many different breathing and worry management exercises, and distracting techniques. The app uses your phone's camera to monitor your heart rate and suggests appropriate tasks, such as both yoga stretching and gentle exercise. Chill Panda is currently being tested in the NHS.
Anxiety and depression
Catch It: Free on Android and iOS, Catch It comes from the Universities of Liverpool and Manchester, and help users better understand their moods through the use of an ongoing diary. Designed to illustrate key psychological approaches to mental health and well-being, specifically CBT, the app helps manage your feelings by turning negative thoughts into positive ones.
7 Cups: Connects users instantly (via a chatbot) to trained volunteer listeners or licensed therapists. The app engages users in anonymous, free, confidential conversations to vent and unload freely. It also gives the option to connect with multiple users and to participate in guided discussions in group support chat rooms. A licensed therapist will set you back $150/month (£110), however, talking to a trained volunteer, community support and the chat rooms are all free.
Be Mindful: An online course for reducing stress, depression and anxiety. It guides you through the elements of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). The digital MBCT course costs £30 and is NHS-approved. The Be Mindful pathway has helped reduce levels of stress, anxiety and depression, and enhance and maintain mental health and wellbeing.
Headspace: (App Store or Google Play): As the most popular app for mindfulness (but also meditation, stress and sleep), Headspace offers ten free sessions which can be repeated freely. Currently, membership costs £49.99/year with the first two weeks free or £9.99/month for hundreds of themed, guided meditations and mindfulness exercises – although prices do fluctuate to up £70 per year
Calm (App Store or Google Play): The second most highly rated mindfulness (and mental health) app on the market, Calm, offers guided meditations for any situation, sleep scapes and calming audio content in different six languages. Download for sleep stories and mental fitness sessions. The app is free to download and has free features but costs around £30 (one-off cost) for full access to all its exercises and ability levels.
Insight Timer: This mediation app offers a whole host of free guided meditations, including sleep music and mediation, and a wide range of personal development courses.
Sleepio: Recommended by the NHS, Sleepio is an online sleep improvement programme for Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire postcodes (if one of these postcodes is entered in the opening questionnaire, this service is free). The app is based around Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for insomnia (CBTi) and teaches techniques to slow the racing mind and behavioural strategies to reset sleeping patterns naturally, without relying on sleeping pills. It has been clinically proven to help users fall asleep faster and sleep through the night. Sleepio uses an in-depth onboarding sleep test to build a fully personalised programme.
Sleepstation: Sleepstation is a clinically validated sleep improvement programme that can help you sleep better after four sessions (six weeks in total). Sleepstation claims to identify the underlying causes of each sleep problem and provides personal support to overcome insomnia. The course uses the information you provide and gives you access to a team of sleep experts who will offer helpful advice and support throughout. Sleepstation costs between £95 and £485, depending on the chosen package - or is free with GP referral (NHS or Bupa).
myNoise: Free on Android and iOS, myNoise has a built-in coloured-noise and frequency generator. White noise sounds like radio static, pink resembles steady rainfall or wind, and brown noise is like a roaring river. There's also an "I'm Feeling Lucky Button," to negate choosing. myNoise also includes a built-in timer to stop playback and includes a binaural beat generator, among many sound variations for restful sleep.
Atmosphere: Similar to myNoise, and free on Android and iOS, Atmosphere offers a huge variety of sounds for relaxing and sleeping, tailored to needs including insomnia, stress, anxiety and relaxation. Atmosphere offers binaural and isochronic beats that work at different frequencies and pulses – emerging forms of sound therapy that train brainwaves into a more restful state.
Insight Timer: [See Mindfulness and meditation listing above]
Community and personal communication
Elefriends: A supportive online community from Mind available on Android, Elefriends is a safe place to listen, share and be heard. The app is free to use and is for over 17s only. The app features an interactive main page to comment, read, or share thoughts and feelings with other like-minded users. There is also a private message facility.
Ieso: A free NHS online course using instant messaging for people with mental health problems. The confidential service puts you in touch with a trained CBT therapist. The therapy is delivered via text so you can review your sessions at any time.
Chatbots mimic conversation with people via the internet. The following apps use chatbots to support people with mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
Wysa (currently free): Leading health app evaluation agency ORCHA awarded Wysa 93% and recommended it as the best app for Covid-19 stress and anxiety. Wysa is completely anonymous and complies with the NHS DCB 0129 standard for clinical safety.
Woebot: A suite of clinically-validated therapy programs that address many of today’s mental health challenges, from generalised anxiety and depression to specific conditions like postpartum depression, adult and adolescent depression, and substance abuse.
Pacfica: An ecosystem of clinically validated techniques for feeling better.
MyPossibleSelf: If interacting with humans is not your thing, MyPossibleSelf might be for you. Bloopy the assistant bot guides you through a free, and rather in-depth eight-week cognitive behavioural therapy based course. MyPossibleSelf offers the potential to help you work through your issues in the format of a text conversation. Available on Apple Store and Google Play.
Cove: Free on iOS, Cove allows you to create music, capturing your mood and express how you feel. Cove can be used any time, but may be most useful when you find it difficult to express yourself through other means, such as talking or writing. Instead of words, create music to reflect emotions like joy, sadness, calm and anger. You can store your music in a personal journal, or send them to someone and let the music do the talking. Cove is currently being tested in the NHS.
Beat Panic: Guides users through panic attacks by shifting your current focus, improve breathing patterns and reduce heart rate. The app costs £0.99 and is NHS approved, but is only available on iPhones.
If you have any top mental health app recommendations, please add in the comments below with a brief synopsis.