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Looking for someone to mow your lawn? There's an app for that.

How about getting a rideshare? There's an app for that. What about seeing how you'd look with a moustache? Well, there's an app for that too.

Online app stores are now filled with truckloads of apps, with these nifty little digi-things holding the potential to alleviate any issue or itch you might have. We often worry about an addiction to our smartphones – especially for adolescents – but can more screen time actually help people feel less anxious and more stimulated?

E-mental Health Programs

Research from Beyond Blue regarding e-mental health programs found that most Australians with depression and anxiety do not receive treatment due to reasons such as cost, proximity and stigma. The presence of e-mental health programs (such as apps, online diagnostic and information sites) provide a new online avenue for people to overcome any accessibility barriers.

Private, customisable and simple to use, here are our favourite five tested and true mental health apps.

1. Smiling Mind

Developed in Australia, Smiling Mind is a modern meditation app that aims to provide easy access to mindfulness meditation and empower people with the tools needed to live a calmer lifestyle. Developed by psychologists and educators, the app contains various levels of meditation activities to slowly and sustainably bring balance into busy lives, over time aiding in the relief of anxiety and stress. It has programs for adults and children, with useful tips for teachers to practice it in the school setting.

Research listed on their app website has found that mindfulness meditation can:

  • Assist with the management of pain and stress
  • Help build resilience and compassion
  • Improve focus at work and in the classroom
  • Help with creativity and collaboration

2. Sleep Cycle

The Australian Sleep Health Foundation states that poor sleep can increase stress levels, as well as contribute to other health problems like depression, heart disease and diabetes. Lack of sleep, over an extended period of time, can trigger negative feelings and exhaustion – dramatically affecting our mood and mental wellbeing.

The Sleep Cycle app tracks your sleep patterns over time, analysing your sleep quality and allowing you to make improvements over time. The clever alarm timing means your sleep will no longer be interrupted by a haphazard ringing/blurting at 6am. Instead, the app wakes you at your lightest sleep phase, significantly reducing the early morning bleariness.

3. Balanced

There never seems to be enough hours in the day. If we were to fit it all in and be the wholesome person we always dreamt of, we would hardly be present for the intimate and slow moments that really matter: a child’s first words, dinner and late night TV with your partner, or a long lunch with mum.

Balanced recognises this tension between what we want to do and what we have to do, and works to motivate us to do both. For those of us who love a good checklist, Balanced gives you the little satisfaction of checking something off. With little reminders of what’s up next, this scheduling app allows users to be more mindful of progress and timelines, altogether aiding in getting you on-track with tasks and giving you time for life’s important moments.

4. Little Memory

Keeping a diary feels reminiscent of a more adolescent time. But journaling for mental health has become widely recognised as a healthy outlet for people to document their thoughts and feelings. The University of Rochester Medical Center describes journaling as a helpful tool to manage anxiety, reduce stress and cope with depression.

Life can sometimes be very overwhelming, with little to no time for self-reflection or ‘me-time’. The Little Memory app is private, personal and meaningful; giving you daily reminders to pop in a memory or feeling or photo from the day that was. The best thing about it is that it encourages you to keep the entries short so that journaling feels less like a chore, and more like a practice.

5. Memorado

A fun one for those who are looking for some mental stimulation – without the added academic or work pressure. Memorado is a brain training app designed by scientists, used to challenge your working memory and cognitive control. By initially outlining your goals, the app encourages a stronger and healthier brain through different levels of mind-training games.

Instead of scrolling through your Facebook feed, brain training apps are a great way to keep occupied whilst also improving concentration and memory. Just like physical health, by training your brain over time, you will see slow improvements to your mind just as you would with your body.