11 Apps That Will Help Improve Your Mental Health

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Where to start?

There are now more than 1. 5 million apps available for smartphone users in both Andriod and iOS. And a good portion of them are promoted as health apps designed to boost, tweak, lift and sculpt you to a leaner, fitter more wholesome you. But what if a "healthier you" simple means getting out of bed in the morning or going to bed at night in one piece? These apps are designed to help you get through the day.

1. Wake Up Rosie!

Wake Up Rosie / Empat Lima / Via wakeuprosie.org.au

The concept for Wake Up Rosie is simple: it’s an alarm clock that wakes you up to the sound of music, and when you first check your phone the image you see is a beautifully illustrated positive affirmation.

It's the brainchild of Melbourne teacher and artist Ally Oliver-Perham and policy researcher Georgie Proud, and key to the app is its Aussie flavour: it features artwork and music by upcoming musicians and illustrators. Launched in November, the app is a complement to the duo’s website Rosie, a portal that offers practical information and inspirational advice on mental health and body image for young women.

The format is supported by research from mental health organisations including Black Dog Institute and Mission Australia that suggests embracing rather than avoiding technology is one of the most effective ways for Australians to find the support they need to cope with mental ill-health.

“They other thing they pointed to was the power of positive affirmation at the beginning and end of the day as a way to centre yourself,” says Oliver-Perham.

“[The internet] is just a junkyard, there’s so much out there that’s written with an agenda. We wanted to be a different voice in that space.”

“So we constantly talk about how smart and amazing young people are. Always trying to put across the message that you can do anything and you don’t need to listen to naysayers or the companies peddling their latest product. You don’t have to listen to that, we want you to know that we’re in your corner.”

Wake Up Rosie is currently available for iOS and is fundraising to develop an Android version for 2016. You can download Wake UP Rosie for free via wakeuprosie.org.au.

2. The Tool Box, technically not an app but plenty useful nonetheless

Ben Mazey / Via Instagram: @benmazey

One the best features on ReachOut.com, aside from the fact they're available 24/7, is The Tool Box, an app guide that helps you choose the Android or iOS app that best meets your needs.

Since 1996, ReachOut.com has been a life line for many young Australians needing guidance on all matters to do with mental health. The website started in response to rising suicide rates and the need for clear, simple advice on how to find help, but it now offers practical advice on mental fitness, personal identity, dealing with study and school pressures and learning how to become more independent.

Just follow the prompts and boom! A list of peer-reviewed apps will appear ready for you to download. And best of all, most are free!

3. ReachOut Breathe

Ben Mazey / Via Instagram: @benmazey

ReachOut Breathe helps you to control your breath and measures your heart rate in real-time using the camera in your phone.

It was designed by ReachOut.com to help you reduce the physical symptoms of stress and anxiety. But it's not about adrenaline pumping exercise and finicky gadgets and games; you hold the key to making this app work. It's about breathing! Breathe in, breathe out.

The ReachOut Breathe app is free and can be downloaded from the Apple App Store.

4. 1GiantMind

Ben Mazey / Via Instagram: @benmazey

1GiantMind is an Aussie app that helps people get into meditation in 12 easy steps and requires no concentration or focus! Damn, that sounds easy.

So what's mindfulness all about then? It’s been the clarion cry for many a filmmaker, football player, muso and TV personality in recent years. In simple terms, being mindful is about being present as we move through our daily life. Sounds easy enough, but in reality - cue multiple mobile devices and screens - it’s becoming increasingly difficult to concentrate on just the one thing, which is where mindful meditation comes in. Meditation can help you feel less stressed and more energised according to the 1GiantMind team.

The 1GiantMind app is free and can be downloaded via 1giantmind.org.

5. Smiling Mind

Ben Mazey / Via Instagram: @benmazey

Smiling Mind is another meditation app designed with twentysomethings in mind, and it’s got the backing of Cricket Australia.

Designed by a team of psychologists it has a range of programs specifically designed for athletes, students, and people starting out in a corporate environment.

Smiling Mind is a free app and can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

6. BeyondBlue Check-in

Ben Mazey / Via Instagram: @benmazey

You may not be dealing with mental ill-health but if your friend or family member is, this app is for you. BeyondBlue have developed an app that lets you check in with a friend who may be struggling. If you're someone's support system it's also good to know that you're not alone in the role, so the app has a section that provides you with helpful tips of things to consider and say if your friend or loved one is rebuffing your offer of help.

The Check-in app is free and can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

7. Mind the Bump

Ben Mazey / Via Instagram: @benmazey

BeyondBlue’s Mind the Bump is another free app dedicated to mindfulness meditation, but this time for parents-to-be. It has useful tips for expecting parents on how to support each other and themselves mentally and emotionally in the lead up to ARRIVAL DAY, and every day after.

Mind the Bump is a free app and can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

8. Music Escape

Ben Mazey / Via Instagram: @benmazey

Music Escape is designed to create a mood map of your track library, it helps you create playlists to match or change your mood.

So if earworms annoy the hell out of you, block them out. And if you like to listen to the same song over and over again when you’re feeling a bit low, this app has got you covered. Music can have a powerful effect on our mood, so let this app give you a boost.

Music Escape is a free app and can be downloaded from the Apple App Store.

9. Ray’s Night Out

Michael Turek / Getty Images / Via thinkstockphotos.com.au

Ray's Night Out was designed to help you develop tricks to cut back on alcohol consumption without curbing the fun times. This app was developed by students with the help of a team of psychologists and developers from the Queensland University of Technology. It can help you find your "stupid line" before a good night turns bad.

The Ray's Night Out app is free and can be downloaded from the Apple App Store.

10. In The Zone

Daniel Remler / Via Flickr: ellyah

This yet-to-be-launched app will feature mindfulness exercises that can be tailored via emoticons to suit a user’s mood; a drawing tool with a shareable function; geolocation maps to identify mental health services across the Northern Territory; and a resource hub that will include information provided by mental health organisations like Suicide Prevention Australia.

It's designed by a group of entrepreneurial young women from the Northern Territory, Pritika Desai, Emma Shepherd and Sophie Wright. In November they won a $10,000 (AUD) grant from Samsung Adappt to develop the app. Project coordinator Pritika Desai, 24, says it was important the app be designed by her peer group because they aren’t being serviced by apps currently on the market.

“The main criticism of other apps is that they’re quite long,” says Pritika. “You have to commit to a six-week program or commit to an hour of meditation, and young people haven’t been involved in developing those apps.”

The group hope to have the app developed, tested and released within the next 12 months.

11. Headspace

Ben Mazey / Via Instagram: @benmazey

Last but not least: Headspace. An app that’s touted as a gym membership for the mind.

Basically, this is another mindfulness meditation app. You get the first ten-step program for free, but if you want the full experience you have to pay a monthly fee.

Once a subscriber you have access to a buddy system that operates as a support network, plus hours of audio content offering advice and guidance on relationships, stress release, and how to unlock your creative potential.

Find out more and download the app at headspace.com.

All this week we’re talking about mental health. If you liked this story, you might also like reading these:

* Things to say to someone with depression.

* Men open up about dealing with depression.

* Men talk about their struggles with body image.

To learn more about depression, check out the resources at BeyondBlue Australia or ReachOut. If you are dealing with thoughts of suicide, you can speak to someone immediately at Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.

If you are based in the US, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 800 273 TALK (8255).

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