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Best therapy apps for managing your mental health at home

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From AI therapists to platforms that let you video-chat with a professional counsellor, these are the best apps to add to your mental health toolkit.

We’ve been here before. Except last time we hadn’t already done six months of it. 

Lockdown 2.0 might feel daunting but there’s a silver lining to the world going digital again: more mental health support is at hand than ever before, without the intimidation (and price-tag) of the therapist’s couch. 

From AI therapists to apps that let you video-chat with a professional counsellor, these are the best to use. 

HelloSelf: Access the UK’s best clinical psychologists - conveniently, anywhere

HelloSelf match you with the best therapist for your needs ensuring you get quality care, not just the closest. You work with a specialists to understand your goals, get answers, and a plan.

Costs dependent on treatment type. Visit helloself.com

Talkspace: for live video counselling

Chat with a trained counsellor at any time. Take a brief assessment, pick your therapist and Talkspace will offer 24/7 online counselling, from live video chats to phone calls to text services. Options include online therapy with licensed therapists, teen therapy and couples therapy.

The digital counselling platform has been rated App of the Day by the App Store and has more than one million users to date. 98 per cent of users found it to be more convenient than traditional therapy. 

From £199 a month, try.talkspace.com

Shout 85258: for free, 24/7 text support 

If you’re feeling low, anxious, worried, lonely, overwhelmed, suicidal or not quite yourself, text ‘Shout’ to 85258 at any time of day or night and Shout will offer free, confidential mental health support from trained volunteers. It’s completely anonymous and won’t appear on your phone bill. 

Once you text you’ll receive four automated messages before you are connected to an empathetic Shout volunteer. This will usually be within five minutes, but if they are busy it can take longer. The volunteer will introduce themselves and ask you to share a bit more about what’s bothering you. This might include feeling anxious, having relationship problems, addiction, depression, bullying, self-harm and suicide. You will text back and forth and share what you feel comfortable with.

The goal of the conversation is to help you reach a calm and safe place, with a plan of how to support yourself going forwards. As well as listening without judgement, our volunteers may provide you with further resources or tools to help you get more expert support.

Your conversation will only end when the volunteer is sure you are in a safe and calm place. Conversations tend to last around 40 minutes.

Free, giveusashout.org

Feelya

Another platform for private, professional virtual therapy. You’ll get matched with accredited, carefully vetted psychotherapists and have private and secure video and audio sessions online.

It’s pay-as-you-go and you can cancel free of charge up to 48 hours before a session. 

All feelya registered therapists are UK based and highly qualified, registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) or the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).

From £40, feelya.com

BetterHelp: for individuals, couples and teens

BetterHelp offers affordable, online counselling anywhere and at anytime so you can access therapy from your sofa. It’s the world’s largest e-counselling platform and is US-based but has thousands of registered users in the UK.

More than 100 million messaging, phone and video chat sessions have been completed to date. 

From £31 a week, betterhelp.com

7 Cups: for teens and young adults 

A free digital text service connecting people experiencing emotional distress with trained listeners. It’s totally anonymous and confidential and available 24/7. 

For extra support, the app also offers online therapy for over-18s from £115 a month. 

The app has more than 180 professional therapists and more than 300,000 trained listeners. 25 million people across the world have been helped so far. 

Free, 7cups.com

Be mindful: for mindfulness 

An NHS-approved digital mindfulness course. It costs £30 and is proven to have helped thousands of people reduce their levels of stress, anxietyand depression, and enhance and maintain mental health and wellbeing.

You can start immediately and learn at your own pace.

£30, bemindfulonline.com

ieso: for cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a  method of talking therapy proven to be effective at treating anxiety, stress, depression and ieso is the NHS’ solution to providing it online for people at home. The only difference is your conversation is typed instead of spoken. 

Research has shown that people are just as likely to recover this way, and many people have said they found it less daunting and easier to be open. 

At the time of your appointment, you simply log in and speak to your therapist by typing back and forth. Typed conversation removes the pressure of having a face-to-face conversation, and can allow you to express your true, inner feelings. Sessions usually take place once a week and last up to 60 minutes.

Free in certain areas, iesohealth.com

Mindscape: for audio and music therapy

Mindscape is a mental health app launched by creative agency Cult in 2018, combining voice technology, artificial intelligence and science-led music therapy in one handy app.

Developed in consultation with mental health charity Mind, the app is aimed at people dealing with panic attacks or anxiety.

The voice app talks people through relaxing breathing exercises, before asking them questions about their current emotional state. It can offer practical tips for managing work, money, education and sleep and also has bespoke soundscapes tailored to the person using the app.

You can use Mindscape through your Amazon Alexa device at home.

Free to enable, download on Amazon Alexa

Tomo: for suggesting new habits 

Chatbots are a fun way to interact with tech and Tomo is a bot that comes with some hidden benefits. The app enables you to ‘find healthy habits’ and record how you’re feeling, so you can keep track of what’s going on.

As you talk to Tomo, it learns about your lifestyle and how you handle challenges and then suggests new habits for you to try. Every time you complete a habit, Tomo invites you to share a photo of your achievement with the community, so you can receive virtual congrats from the Tomo cohort.

This virtual buddy system is designed to ensure your habits stick.

Free, hellotomo.co.uk

Wysa: for Covid anxiety

An AI chatbot you can use to vent or talk through negative thoughts and emotions. It’s totally anonymous and secure and uses research-backed therapies such as CBT, DBT and meditation.

For extra support, you can also receive text guidance from a qualified professional therapist. Daily messaging support and eight live sessions costs less than £77 a month.

The world’s leading health app evaluation agency, Orcha, has recommended Wysa as the best app to deal with Covid-related stress and anxiety.  

Free, wysa.io

This article was originally posted in The Evening Standard on 9th November 2020.

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