Apps that can help with your mental health [Part 1]

I haven’t written app feature or review posts in a while. Even though I use the term app, I will also include some websites.

I’ve been working on my own platform but I’m taking longer that I expected because of my own personal issues.

So in the mean time, here are some that are pretty great. There are two general types of apps, consumer apps that are based on peer to peer support, and apps aims to help you cope with mental illness and improve your overall well-being.

For Part 1, I’ll be focusing more on peer to peer support apps.

1. Talk Life

The first on the list is Talk Life, it’s a social network for you to get help and give help.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the app you can post your stories. You can make your post private in your diary or public, so people can comment on them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They can also send you virtual gifts of encouragement.

Screenshot_20180510-182138.jpg

You can specify your trigger warnings and when a story that is potentially triggering shows up in the feed, it’s hidden but you have to option to view it if you want.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The app is monetized through native ads that will show up in the feed, but you can pay to remove them.

Screenshot_20180510-181806.jpg

The developers of TalkLife are also collaborating with researchers from Microsoft Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University to better understand and predict self harm, with the aim to create meaningful interventions.

They also recently won the People’s Choice Awards at the Digital Agenda Impact Awards (which is actually how I found out about the app).

 

 

Talk Life is based on peer to peer support and its benefits for better mental health. Their website also provided links to to research from Mind, Nesta and University of Nottingham.

What I like about Talk Life?

I really like the idea behind the app and the idea of having a community that helps one another. It is however, important to emphasize that it is not a crisis support community.

If users are feeling suicidal, it is very important that they seek professional help. The app also includes information on help line numbers.

Screenshot_20180510-181912.jpg

The app also takes content moderation very seriously.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also really like the visual aesthetic, especially the purple color scheme, of the app.

What I think can be improved?

I don’t like that the ability to sign up via Facebook or Google, also the personal identifying characteristics in the user registration process, such as full name and birthday, ability to upload profile pictures.

Even though it’s a community, where I can theoretically share very personal stories of myself, I don’t want it to be personally identified by it. I am a very private person and I do curate what I post on social media and how I set my privacy settings.

Another mental health community, Big White Wall (which I will talk about later in this post) actually encourages you to pick a profile name that you normally wouldn’t use.

Links:

2. The Safe Place

The Safe Place is a minority mental health app geared towards the Black Community.

 

 

 

As an app it’s very simple, it contains predominantly text-based information for a variety of topics on mental health that’s more geared towards the Black Community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It also includes some resources that link out of the app. It also has a group forum that links to a Facebook Group.

The app is monetized through a Donate button.

What I like about The Safe Place?

I think it’s very valuable to have an app that’s geared towards a minority group. Simply existing, lets the Black Community know that they aren’t alone.

I’m personally from a different minority group, I’m ethnically Chinese, and I know that culture also plays a big part on our mental health in terms of our coping mechanisms or how open we are to acknowledging we have a problem and getting help.

What I think can be improved?

I think in terms of the way the information is presented. Forgive me when I say, more pictures. Also the app can be more interactive, such as in the assessment section, it can be presented more like a quiz instead of just a list of questions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Links:

 

3. Big White Wall

Big White Wall isn’t an app, it’s a website. It is a digital mental health support service. It encourages anonymity, so you can express yourself freely and openly.

Screen Shot 2018-07-02 at 5.19.17 PM

There are a few aspects to the website. It has a social network element in the form of clinically-monitored peer support forum called Talkabout and the concept of Bricks (Big White Wall, get it?).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It also includes a variety of tools and information for self-management.

It also has one-to-one live therapy available using audio, webcam and instant messaging. I haven’t tried it though, because it’s an additional service.

Jen Hyatt, the CEO of Big White Wall, says  “They can provide access to services from the comfort of the home. Many people find it hard to access services because of geography, because of mental ill health, because of physical disability. We’ve also found that, in the 50% of cases that do get to a GP, they’re not able to guide mental health problems adequately.”

Big White Wall is actually available through a subscription based model, but it teamed up with several institutions to provide its service freely. I was able to access Big White Wall thanks to my previous university. They also received a £2 million investment from Big Society Capital.

What I like about Big White Wall?

I like the level of care and the amount of research the website conducted.

The press release of Big White Wall on Impact Ventures UK, talked about how there are thousands of unverified mental health apps encompassing mindfulness, CBT, mood tracking, peer support and more. Jen Hyatt says this about them, “I have no tolerance for developers who try to avoid taking responsibility for the safety of people online. We have a responsibility to our users – it’s the only route to a good, rigorous resource. We have support staff 24/7. We have data analytics, tests we use to screen for tests, and a clinical governance handbook that has protocols for issues like suicide ideation, self harm and other crises. They can be escalated to a clinical psychiatrist within two minutes.”

Link: http://www.impactventuresuk.com/press-releases-and-news/big-white-wall-one-of-four-nhs-apps-found-to-be-clinically-effective/

What I think can be improved?

I think the layout of the website looks a bit dated.

 

Link: https://www.bigwhitewall.com/

 

4. Project Semicolon

Project Semicolon is a movement for suicide prevention started by .  It is based on the concept that “a semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life”.

It also a community with a website and apps.

Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 2.54.08 PMScreen Shot 2018-01-10 at 2.54.27 PM

First the website, you can create an account and you can share your story. People can comment and share your story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It also provides information about different mental illnesses and how you can get help.

They also have a shop where they sell merch, such as t-shirts and temporary tattoos (in case you don’t want to get a real one). They also have a Donate button.

The app is not too different from the website actually. But it’s based more on support groups and getting real life support from one another through chats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The app is 100% free, and it doesn’t contain ads or any in app purchases.

They also have another app specifically for survivors. I’m not its target audience, so I didn’t download it.

 

What I like about Project Semicolon?

I think the impact the movement has is quite impressive and I truly admire their efforts. They are also a non-profit organization.

I have been contemplating getting a semicolon tattoo, but haven’t gotten around to it.

What I think can be improved?

The website is WordPress based, so when I signed up using my usual email address, it automatically linked with Gravatar with my face as a profile picture. Like what I mentioned before with Talk Life, I prefer to be anonymous.

The app is actually quite confusing, I don’t know how to post stories or Insights. I also had to sign up on the app using my mobile phone number, which I didn’t really appreciate. I didn’t actually try to reach out to anyone or join any of the groups, because for some reason I felt hesitant.

 

Links:

 

5. Elefriends

Elefriends is an online support community managed by Mind, the mental health charity.

 

It has a website and apps (unfortunately my Google Play Store is no longer set in the UK and I couldn’t download them).

You can sign up to the website using Facebook or your email address.

Firefox_Screenshot_2018-07-02T09-05-20.919Z

I feel like I’ve been repeating myself again, but in Elefriends, you can also share your stories, read and comment on other people’s stories. And since it’s run by Mind, they have Ele handlers that moderate the community. You can also report stories.

Screen Shot 2018-07-02 at 6.26.13 PM

You can also send private messages to other users and share hugs.

Screen Shot 2018-07-02 at 6.33.09 PM

It’s basically an adorable version of Facebook.

Elefriends is generously supported by the Cabinet Office’s Social Action Fund.

 

What I like about Elefriends?

It looks adorable.

What I think can be improved?

I think its pretty good as it is. It also includes links to Mind for more information about mental illness, where to get help etc.

Oh right, I wish the app will be available worldwide instead of just UK.

Links:

 

6. Ok2Talk

Ok2Talk  is also an online support community, but it’s managed by NAMI or the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Screen Shot 2018-07-02 at 6.51.25 PM

It’s geared more towards teens and it’s a Tumblr based site.

You can submit stories and read and comment on other people’s stories. You can post text, images or videos. Also since it’s Tumblr based, you can also heart, reblog and share on Twitter and Facebook.

Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 3.26.26 PM

They also review every submission before posting it on the site.

They also provide information on where to get help.

 

What I like about Ok2Talk?

Since it’s geared towards teens, they take extra care on monitoring the content and reviewing all the submissions.

Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 3.26.38 PM

What I think can be improved?

I like it, no complaints. I like how they make use of Tumblr and all its functionality.

Link: http://ok2talk.org/

 

7. Not Ok

Not OK is a digital panic button that will connect you to your support network via text, call, even including your GPS information. Their goal is to make it easier for people to reach out for help when they need it.

Screenshot Image

It was created by Hannah Lucas and her brother because she needed something like it when she needed help. She wrote an op ed on Teen Vogue about her experience with POTS and having depression and why she created the app.

Their website also provided links to peer support research from MHA, NAMI and DBSA.

The app is monetized through a monthly subscription.

I couldn’t download their app because it’s not available in my country, so I didn’t have a chance to try it out.

 

Links:

 

And that wraps up the apps for Part 1. Most of these apps and websites are actually quite similar, and I couldn’t really say if one is better than the other. But it’s all based on the community, so try them out and see which peer support group you feel more comfortable in.

Remember, you are not alone.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s