3 Great Apps For When You’re Feeling Down

using mental health app on phone

Tech has made wellbeing support available at the touch of a button. Here’s a list of a few of the apps we’ve found helpful.

Written and reviewed by Johanna Kruger.

1. Cove

App Store: Free  (Only available available in the App Store for iOS devices)

Looking for a more unique way of emotional self-expression? How about composing music?

The Cove App lets you create music to help express and identify your complex feelings. With its beautiful and aesthetic interface, Cove makes composing music easy and fun. …all while helping you label your emotions and express them through music.

It also gives you the space to reflect on your feelings and write out some thoughts. Even better – the compositions and reflections are stored for you in a personal music journal.

This app was created in collaboration with specialists and clinicians and is currently also in the testing phase of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) for their Digital Apps Library (a collection of a digital tools put together by the NHS to use for health and care).

The technique of musical composition and music as a way towards emotional expression is used in music therapy, a form of therapy found to be an effective tool, often in conjunction with other therapies, for various conditions, including depression.

What I liked:

  • Unlike any other mental health app I’ve encountered before
  • As a music lover, this was a fun and surprisingly easy App to play around with.  It first lets you select a mood, before you add your base, melody and percussion. You’ll be amazed at how good it sounds!
  • The musical compositions are quite soothing to listen to later on.
  • Frees your creative mind.
  • Completely free – no later premium subscription required.
  • No sign-up required.

2. Catch It

App Store: Free

Play Store: Free

Change the way you think.

Catch it helps you better understand your feelings and teaches you to look at problems in a different way. Through its ongoing diary it helps you understand your negative thoughts and turn them into positive ones and in turn feel better.

Catch It was created by the Universities of Liverpool and Manchester and is based on some of the key principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

The app has broken it down in a very user-friendly way and helps you record and reflect on your mood in 3 steps:

  1. Catch it – record and rate your mood
  2. Check it – reflect on what you’re thinking
  3. Change it – think about a better way of dealing with a problem

Not only is Catch It based on the effective method of CBT, but a recent study in the British Journal of Psych Open on the app itself showed promising findings. Researchers found that the intensity of users’ negative moods significantly decreased, while the intensity of their positive moods significantly increased.

This app is also featured in the NHS Digital Apps Library, as an app to help to manage feelings like anxiety and depression.

What I liked:

  • When you open the app you have to enter your PIN to access the app and view your diary. Having this extra safety and privacy made it feel more like a safe space.
  • Simple and user-friendly interface. Not overwhelmed with too many options.
  • Based on CBT – a scientifically supported method that I know and trust
  • No sign-up required.

3. Headspace

App Store: Free

Play Store: Free

You might have already heard of this one…

The popular meditation app Headspace, uses mindfulness and meditation to help you achieve a happier and healthier life. While the practice of regular meditation can help you find a place of calm, reduce stress and keep your mind fit – it can affect so many different areas in your life.

Research has widely shown the benefits mediation can have in your life. But as a beginner it can be hard to know where exactly to start or how to go about practicing. Headspace makes it easy for you with their app, together with their aesthetic, simple and user-friendly interface.

The Basics course is free and consists of 10 guided meditation sessions that teach you the fundamental techniques of meditation and mindfulness. You can gain access to the full Headspace meditation library by gaining a subscription, but you can also use the Basics course as many times as you want.

Countless studies have also been conducted on the app itself and found very promising results. A recent randomized controlled trial found that just 10 days of Headspace reduced stress by 14%. Further findings have shown that Headspace increased compassion and reduced aggression, reduced irritability, increased self-compassion, improved focus, increased positivity and well-being… the list goes on.

Another great feature of Headspace is the calm voice of the guided meditations. The voice is that of Headspace co-founder and former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe. (You might have seen him in his TED talk on mindfulness!)

What I liked:

  • What makes this app stand out most me is the emphasis of building the daily habit of meditating, which for beginners (like me!) is the most important.
  • Simplicity both in interface and content. While it doesn’t offer a lot of different mediation techniques like other apps (such as Calm), I prefer the simplicity as it doesn’t leave me overwhelmed with choice.
  • Can use the 10 free basics as many times as you want – you don’t have to purchase a paid subscription.

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