Mental Health Monday: Apps and other online resources
Dr Elizabeth Legg shares the online resources she usually recommends for her clients.
In the last of our Mental Health Monday series – and in honour of Internet Day – Dr Elizabeth Legg, a psychiatrist in private practice, shares her go-to online resources for those who need some guidance but aren't able to visit a healthcare professional in person.
This free mood tracker app is specifically for people with symptoms related to bipolar mood disorder, depression, PTSD, anxiety and other mood disorders. It allows you to monitor your highs and lows, anxiety levels, sleep and more, so you can learn to understand your own rhythms and know when you need additional support. You can also export and share your data directly with your healthcare professional.
Another free mood tracker, Daylio also acts as an online journal. You can decide how detailed to make it by adding notes, or you can keep it simple by just selecting your mood and the activities you did on the day. Through this, you can also identify potential bad habits and make healthier choices.
Dr Legg finds Insight Timer useful for people suffering from anxiety or depression. The free app boasts that it's the 'largest free library of guided meditations on Earth' – and more than 28,000 meditations is pretty impressive. There are guided meditations on topics ranging from stress management to boosting your self-esteem, or you can set a timer. If you struggle to sleep, there are also stories to help you relax when it's time for bed.
This popular app offers bite-sized guided meditations that you can fit in at any time. They offer some meditations for free, including 10 introductory sessions from the 'Basics' pack, but you'll need to subscribe to access the full Headspace Library, which costs around R60 a month.
This free app comes from the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and, as the name says, is for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But Dr Legg says the cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) skills it teaches can be applied to other panic and anxiety disorders too. PTSD Coach is packed with useful information as well as practical tools to help you develop relaxation skills, manage anger and more.
Dr Legg says Woebot is useful for young adults who are 'struggling but are not severely depressed'. Woebot also uses CBT methods and mood tracking. It checks in with you every day and offers insight and suggestions based on what you share with it. You can 'talk' to Woebot as often as you like – for free.
The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) has a very useful website that provides information on various issues. You can also find a support group or contact a counsellor online. In addition, keep an eye on SADAG's Facebook page, where they host regular 'Facebook Friday' chats about specific subjects.