Mental Wellness Apps: How Do They Help Students Overcome Stress

Mental Wellness Apps: Are They Useful For Student Well-Being
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In an era marked by the relentless pace of academic challenges and societal pressures, the mental well-being of students has become an increasingly crucial aspect of their overall health. Recent data from a 2023 survey by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reveals an alarming statistic: a staggering 85% of college students have faced significant stress, anxiety, or depressive symptoms during their academic pursuits. This highlights a growing need to address what causes mental health problems in the student population and explore effective methods of treatment.

In response to this growing demand, a wave of innovative technology has emerged to provide students with a virtual lifeline – mental wellness apps. This article delves into the world of these applications, exploring their impact on student mental health and the features that make them indispensable companions in the journey towards holistic well-being.

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Understanding a Mental Health App

Mental wellness apps are like digital companions designed to support your well-being. These are software programs that offer various tools and resources to help you manage your mental health. They can include features like tracking, educational information, and exercises to make it easier for you to take care of your mental well-being.

For college students, these apps can be particularly helpful because they can be accessed on smartphones, and it turns out that nearly everyone in the age group of 18 to 29 owns a smartphone. This makes students an ideal group to benefit from these resources. The best part is that you can use these apps anytime, making them super convenient, especially for students who might have a hard time accessing traditional mental health services due to busy schedules or staff shortages on campus.

While apps for mental health offer flexibility and accessibility, there are some challenges. Not all apps are regulated or backed by solid research, which can make it tricky for students to find ones with evidence-based content. Privacy and safety are also concerns, as there have been instances of breaches. However, despite these challenges, some apps have been thoroughly researched and proven effective in reducing mental health symptoms.

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Types of Mental Health Apps

According to our academic essay writing service, the journey of mental wellness apps began in the late 1950s with the introduction of telehealth, and the subsequent rise of smartphones in 2007 opened new avenues for this domain. Their emergence around 2011 marked a turning point, with pioneering apps like PTSD Coach aimed at supporting veterans through post-traumatic stress disorder.

Today, the mental wellness app market is booming, boasting approximately 20,000 apps addressing an array of mental health concerns. However, these apps don't follow a one-size-fits-all approach. Here are the key types of apps designed to tackle the most common mental health disorders in college students:

Mindfulness Games

Features: Interactive games promoting mindfulness and stress reduction through engaging activities.

Applicability: Ideal for individuals seeking a gamified approach to cultivate mindfulness and alleviate stress.

Sleep Improvement

Features: Tools and programs addressing sleep-related issues, including guided sleep meditations and ambient sounds.

Applicability: Beneficial for those struggling with sleep disorders or seeking better sleep quality.

Mood Journaling

Features: Platforms for tracking and journaling mood fluctuations, helping users identify patterns and triggers.

Applicability: Useful for individuals managing mood disorders or seeking emotional self-awareness.

Digital Support Groups

Features: Virtual communities offering a space for users to share experiences, provide support, and connect with others facing similar challenges.

Applicability: Particularly valuable for fostering a sense of belonging and understanding among individuals dealing with mental health issues.

Therapy Platforms

Features: Online therapy options, including text messaging, live video, and audio therapy.

Applicability: Useful for addressing a range of mental disorders, excluding severe cases like dementia or high suicidal risk.

Eating Disorders Apps

Features: Tailored support for recovery, customizable meal plans, and progress tracking.

Applicability: Ideal for those combating bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and ARFID.

Benefits of Using Mental Health Apps

In addition to the direct support for student mental wellness concerns, there are several overarching benefits that make these applications an indispensable resource for students:

Benefits of Using Mental Health Apps

  • Convenience on Demand:
  • They are accessible 24/7, allowing users to engage with them according to their schedules. Whether practicing mindfulness or accessing modules at their own pace, students have the flexibility to prioritize their mental well-being when it suits them best.
  • Consumer-Friendly Technology:
  • The widespread acceptance of e-health, marked by the popularity of smartwatches and wearables tracking physical health metrics, extends to these apps. This familiarity with health-related technology makes students more receptive to leveraging apps for mental well-being.
  • Reducing Stigma through Anonymity:
  • The persistent stigma around mental health treatment often hinders individuals from seeking support. The apps provide a solution by allowing users to access help anonymously. Users can navigate their mental health journey without involving others or engaging directly with a counselor, thereby mitigating the impact of stigma.
  • Cost-Effective Mental Health Support:
  • Financial constraints should not be a barrier to mental health care. These wellness applications are either free or charge a nominal fee, offering an affordable alternative to traditional therapy. This accessibility ensures that students, regardless of financial limitations, can access valuable mental health resources.
  • Customizable Self-Care Plans:
  • Using a mental health app for teens empowers them to tailor their self-care plans. With customizable features and resources, individuals can address specific aspects of their mental health, ensuring a personalized and effective approach to well-being.
  • Real-Time Monitoring and Feedback:
  • Some apps offer real-time monitoring of mental health indicators, providing users with instant feedback. This immediate response mechanism allows students to track their progress and make timely adjustments to their self-care routines.
  • Educational Resources and Psychoeducation:
  • Many of these apps go beyond support and offer educational resources. Students can access psychoeducational content to better understand their mental health, fostering a proactive and informed approach to well-being.

Contents of Mental Wellness Apps

Mental wellness apps are designed to be versatile and cater to various aspects of well-being. Here are some common features found in these apps:

Meditation and Mindfulness Techniques

  • Many apps offer daily meditation sessions and mindfulness exercises to promote relaxation and stress reduction.

Journaling Support

  • Users can engage in the art of journaling, such as noting gratitude or tracking mood. If you're wondering how and why journaling app help with mental health, it facilitates progress tracking and helps users connect their mood with events.

Notifications and Reminders

  • To support users in maintaining a consistent routine, some apps include notifications, affirmations, and reminders. These gentle prompts ensure that users stay on top of their daily self-care practices.

Interactive Exercises

  • Certain apps go beyond theoretical knowledge and incorporate interactive exercises. Users can apply what they've learned through practical exercises, reinforcing their mental well-being practices.

Progress Tracking Reports

  • Users can monitor their journey by accessing progress reports and charts provided by the apps. These visual aids offer insights into personal growth and help individuals understand the effectiveness of their chosen mental health strategies.

Sleep and Relaxation Tools

  • Some apps extend support beyond waking hours by including features for sleep improvement. Sleep trackers, guided sleep meditations, and relaxation exercises contribute to a comprehensive approach to well-being.

Goal Setting and Achievements

  • To motivate users, certain apps incorporate goal-setting features. Users can set well-being goals and track their achievements, fostering a sense of accomplishment and progress.

Mental Health App Engagement in College Students

College students need more mental health support, and while mobile apps seem like a good idea, a study with 100 students shows that not many are using them. The study by Melcher et al., 2022, and Bautista, J., & Schueller, S. M. (2023), tries to understand how does mental health affect students and find ways to make these apps better for them.

What the Study Found

  • Even though many students (53%) were interested in mental health apps and had downloaded them before, only a small number (19%) are currently using them.
  • Students worry about their privacy when using these apps. They want to make sure their information is kept safe, so that's really important for them.
  • Students also want the information in the apps to be trustworthy and based on good evidence. They think this is crucial for using the apps for a longer time.

Challenges and Solutions

  • A big review found that mental health apps are good at helping with feelings of depression and anxiety in college students, underscoring the importance of emotional intelligence in education. But, even with this, not many students keep using the apps after they download them. Students with clinical diagnoses of depression and anxiety show more interest, but still, not many stick with it. 
  • To address this, future research will delve deeper into understanding student preferences, emphasizing why is mental health important for students. By making sure the apps are private, easy to use, trustworthy, and can be personalized, they can become more appealing and helpful for college students. This way, we can meet the growing need for mental health support in a way that makes sense for students. 

How to Find the Right Mental Health App for You

Selecting the right mental health apps is a personal journey, and finding the perfect fit may involve a bit of exploration. To guide you through this process, consider the following factors from our college essay writers:

How to Find the Right Mental Health App for You

Research-Backed Effectiveness

  • Opt for an app that has undergone research studies and has evidence supporting its effectiveness. Look for information on how well the app has performed in scientific evaluations.

User-Friendly Interface

  • Prioritize apps with an easy-to-use interface. Navigate through the app to ensure it aligns with your preferences. Keep in mind that some features may require a paid membership for full access.

Tailored Features to Meet Your Needs

  • Identify your specific needs and choose an app that offers features catering to those requirements. For instance, if stress relief is a priority, explore apps providing guided meditation or other stress management tools.

Privacy and Security Measures

  • Prioritize your privacy by selecting an app with robust security features. Ensure the app has a transparent privacy policy, and check if it allows you to delete your data whenever you choose.

Device Compatibility

  • Confirm that the app is compatible with your smart devices. Some apps may only be accessible on specific platforms or operating systems, so choose one that aligns with your technology preferences.

User Reviews and Recommendations

  • Explore user reviews and recommendations to gain insights into real experiences with the app. Others' feedback can provide valuable information about the app's usability and effectiveness.

5 Best Apps For Mental Health Support

Having discussed the factors influencing app engagement among students, let's now delve into practical solutions. We present a selection of the best mental health apps tailored to support students on their journey to well-being. These apps not only address common concerns but also offer user-friendly features to make the student experience more accessible and beneficial.

Headspace

Ideal for stress and anxiety management, Headspace accommodates diverse needs. This is a user-friendly mental wellness app focused on meditation and mindfulness, offering tranquility and stress reduction.

Pricing:

  • Basic features are free.
  • Subscriptions:
  • $12.99/month (7-day free trial)
  • $69.99/year (14-day free trial)
  • $99.99/year for families (up to 6 accounts)

Key Features:

  • Guided Meditation: Structured sessions for stress, focus, and sleep.
  • Sleep Tools: Sounds and meditations for restful sleep.
  • Mindfulness Exercises: Quick exercises for daily mindfulness.
  • Personalized Journeys: Tailored meditations based on individual goals.

Sanvello

Now, let's explore another mental wellness app—Sanvello. Serving as your dedicated self-care companion, Sanvello equips you with tools to navigate life's stressors. Through its innovative mood-tracking feature, the app empowers you to observe patterns in thoughts, habits, exercise, sleep, and emotions, guiding you toward positive and healthy changes.

Pricing:

  • Free to download
  • Premium subscriptions: $8.99/month or $53.99/year

Key Features:

  • Mood Tracking: Observe patterns for better well-being.
  • Coping Strategies: Personalized recommendations for challenging situations.
  • Weekly Assessments: Track progress and identify areas for improvement.
  • Community Support: Engage with the community board and attend live classes.
  • Personalized Coaching: Connect with trained coaches for one-on-one advice.
  • Live Video Therapy (In Certain States): Access licensed mental health clinicians for personalized support.

Calm

Calm, often hailed as the top app for sleep, meditation, and relaxation, stands out as a go-to solution for those seeking tranquility. Available on both iPhone and Android, Calm offers a Premium subscription, providing access to a wealth of resources, including celebrity-narrated bedtime stories, exclusive music tracks, and immersive soundscapes for a restful night's sleep. The app's free version offers limited features, while premium plans cater to various needs, ensuring accessibility through family and student plans.

Pricing:

  • Free to download
  • Calm Premium: $14.99/month, $69.99/year, $399.99 for lifetime membership
  • Calm Premium Family Plan: $99.99/year (up to 6 accounts)
  • Calm for Students: $8.99/year after a 3-month free trial through Amazon Prime

Key Features:

  • Library of Sleep Resources: Explore a variety of sleep aids, including music, guided meditations, and soundscapes.
  • Bedtime Stories by Celebrities: Drift off to soothing tales narrated by celebrities like Matthew McConaughey and P!nk.
  • Discounted Family and Student Plans: Affordable options for families and students to access premium features.
  • 7-Day Free Trial: Test Calm Premium with a complimentary seven-day trial before committing to a subscription.

MoodKit

MoodKit, developed by clinical psychologists and deeply grounded in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) principles, is among our favorite mental health apps. For a one-time low fee, MoodKit provides access to over 200 evidence-based activities designed to identify negative thought patterns, improve mood, and cultivate positive life skills. The app's features include a personalized journal with customizable templates, exportable mood tracking charts, and seamless integration with your iOS calendar.

Pricing:

  • $4.99 (one-time fee)

Key Features:

  • CBT-Based Activities: Over 200 evidence-based activities rooted in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy principles.
  • Exportable Mood Charts: Track and analyze mood patterns with exportable charts and notes.
  • Customizable Journal: Personalize your journal with various templates to suit your preferences.
  • Integration with iOS Calendar: Seamlessly integrates into your iOS calendar for added convenience.

BetterHelp

Founded in 2013, BetterHelp stands as one of the largest and most popular online mental health care platforms globally. With an extensive network of licensed therapists, the app addresses a wide range of mental health concerns, from grief and stress to relationships, anxiety, depression, trauma, and more.

Pricing:

  • $65-$90/week, billed every 4 weeks

Key Features:

  • Unlimited Messaging: Communicate seamlessly with your therapist through unlimited messaging.
  • Multiple Therapy Options: Access various therapy options, including live chat, to suit your preferences.
  • Effortless Sign-Up: Quickly connect with a suitable therapist through a streamlined and user-friendly sign-up process.
  • Flexible Communication: Flexibility with one weekly talk therapy session via live video, audio, or chat. 

Daily Practices for Mental Health

While mental wellness apps play a crucial role in supporting student well-being, it's essential to recognize that they aren't the sole solution. Alongside the use of these applications, consider integrating the following practices for a holistic approach:

Daily Practices for Mental Health
  • Regular Physical Activity: Engaging in regular exercise has proven benefits for mental health, releasing endorphins that promote a positive mood and reduce stress.
  • Mindfulness Meditation: In addition to app-based meditation, practicing mindfulness through techniques like deep breathing and focused awareness can enhance mental clarity and reduce anxiety.
  • Balanced Nutrition: A well-balanced diet can have a significant impact on mental health. Ensure you're nourishing your body with the nutrients it needs for optimal brain function.
  • Adequate Sleep: Quality sleep is crucial for mental well-being. Establishing consistent sleep patterns can improve mood, concentration, and overall cognitive function.
  • Social Connections: Building and maintaining strong social connections can provide emotional support and contribute to a sense of belonging.
  • Professional Therapy: Beyond app-based therapy, seeking professional counseling or therapy can offer personalized guidance and support for specific mental health concerns.

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Final Outlook

Mental wellness apps are powerful tools that provide personalized support. Yet, it's vital to remember that well-being extends beyond screens. Lifestyle changes like exercise, mindfulness, good nutrition, sleep, and social connections are essential.

While apps offer convenience, a balanced mix of digital solutions and real-life practices is key for lasting mental wellness. You might even consider documenting your unique journey through a personal essay. In this case, learning how to start a personal essay and exploring diverse approaches can contribute to a more fulfilling life!

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