In recent years, the topic of mental health has deservedly (and belatedly) become widely discussed.
After decades of focusing on physical health and dietary habits, the world has finally woken up to the importance of being mentally robust as well.
Unfortunately, modern technology has played its own role in the seemingly inexorable rise of mental health issues.
From phone addiction and cyber bullying to insomnia and anxiety, our brains simply aren’t equipped to deal with the relentless drip-drip of information provided by the internet.
Experts believe the blue light emitted by smartphone and tablet screens is also having a detrimental effect on our sleep patterns and energy levels.
Poacher turned gamekeeper
Unsurprisingly (if ironically), software apps are at the forefront of tackling mental health issues.
Apps are also being used to improve our physical wellbeing, acting as proxy fitness instructors and personal trainers.
Below, we’ve listed some of the apps currently available in the UK to develop a healthier life – both mentally and physically.
Some will be of benefit to anyone, while a few are more focused in who they’re targeting – but they’re all available on both iOS and Android.
Mental health apps
- MindShift. Anxiety has become a hot topic in recent years. This app for teens and young adults provides real-time support and guidance on how to manage anxiety attacks
- IMoodJournal. Identifying problems is often the first step to resolving them. This mood tracker helps users to monitor medication, sleep, energy levels and much more
- Wrap. Wrap is a powerful and flexible app developed by mental health sufferers, and used around the world. Features include action and crisis plans, plus a wellness toolbox
- Mental Health Recovery Guide. Living up to its name, this 17-point guide to recovering from depression, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder is recommended by the NHS
- What’s Up? An easy-to-use app combining Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Acceptance Commitment Therapy, for sufferers of depression, stress, anger and anxiety
- Headspace. Mindfulness is increasingly being viewed as key in the war on depression and anxiety. Headspace delivers loads of guided meditations and breathing exercises.
Physical health apps
- Couch to 5K. Okay, it’s half an hour of trotting rather than a 5K. But sticking with C25K’s guided nine-week course enables most users to become accomplished runners
- The Walk. If running is too much, The Walk creates a storyline where walking 500 miles (in short bursts) will help save the world. It’s slick, imaginative and surprisingly fun
- My Virtual Mission. Working towards a goal is a great motivator, whether it’s Iron Man or daily pilates. This app covers many activities, guiding users towards objectives
- Strava. With over ten million users, Strava’s popularity is obvious. From running to cycling, it shares achievements with a community eager to dispense advice and support
- Fiit. Cancel the gym membership and use a subscription app to work out at home. An extensive array of 25-minute and 40-minute videos extends from yoga to cardio classes
- MyFitnessPal. You get out what you put in, so track your food intake with this hugely popular calorie counter. Create diaries, import recipes, and even check restaurant menus.
Know your limits
Finally, tackle smartphone addiction by setting limits on the amount of time you spend on mobile devices.
The latest Android Pie update provides statistics on how often your phone is unlocked, and how much time is spent on specific apps.
It’ll grey out certain apps when a self-imposed daily time quota is exceeded, and it can also turn off all notifications overnight to ensure a more restful sleep.
Apple’s iOS offers similar services, while apps like FamilyTime and OurPact help parents to regulate their children’s activities.