Mental Health

Enhancing Mental Health in 2024: 4 Recommended Apps

Employees with an Asian heritage continue to struggle for inclusion and belonging in the workplace. Asian Heritage Month is a good reminder that bias still lurks in the workplace but can be ferreted out with a well-structured DEI effort that is fully inclusive. - By Malibu Kothari

As the stigma around discussing mental health topics has faded away, fresh mental health supports have appeared both online and offline. There are now employee assistance programs for mental health at all major employers, and support tools for the neurodivergent are enabling greater numbers of them to enter and thrive in the workplace. However, some of the most promising (and private) support options for mental wellbeing in Canada can be found online.

Apps and tech-driven tools that can be accessed anytime and anywhere a data connection can be found are providing millions of Canadians with unprecedented levels of mental health support. Some of it is offered in conjunction with existing mental health frameworks, expanding the reach of Canada’s official mental health systems. Others systems use similar research bases but eschew formal connections to existing structures. Here, some of the most promising tools presently available will be reviewed, including Pocketwell from Health Canada, CAMH’s Stress & Anxiety app, the PTSD Coach Canada app, and the unaffiliated wellness app, Happify.

Pocketwell, Health Canada’s Official Mental Health App

For Canadians looking for mental health support, Pocketwell has been a central part of the dialogue over the last two years. The app is provided free through the Wellness Together Canada (WTC) platform, a mental health and substance use support organization nested under the Health Canada umbrella. It includes a self-assessment of mental health designed by psychologists, research-based tools for tracking mental health and wellbeing, and the opportunity for users to be connected to live therapists and counselors in addition to the companion chat features in the app.

Since its release in January 2022, Pocketwell has been downloaded more than 30,000 times. While this is a much smaller level of reach than the main WTC site (accessed more than 3.5 million times by users over a similar time period), developers are pleased, especially since most users are in the 19 – 29 age range. App reviews have been positive in the Google Play and App stores, and the WTC team anticipates a bright future for the app as more Canadians get comfortable with virtual mental health tools and get used to using apps as a starting point when seeking to improve their mental health.

Managing Stress & Anxiety With CAMH

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is one of Canada’s largest mental health hospital networks, with multiple teaching facilities and research groups. During COVID, CAMH realized that many of their wellness tools could be accessed via an app framework and released a companion app, Managing Your Stress & Anxiety, designed to help people cope with the stress, anxiety, and frustrations of daily life. It’s available in the App Store and from the Google Play store.

Like other apps from CAMH, the app is free. To protect user privacy – something CAMH takes very seriously – the app collects no data on users. However, users who need immediate support or an urgent conversation with a mental health specialist will need to leave the app and contact a support line directly, as there is no built-in link to live counselors.

The Expanded PTSD Coach Canada

Originally developed for Canada’s military veterans and their families, PTSD Coach Canada/Coach ESPT Canada has been updated for use by any Canadian who has experienced a trauma. It is provided free as both an app and an online platform, supported by Veterans Affairs Canada in partnership with the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Mental Health Association. While other apps focus on generalized wellbeing, PTSD Coach Canada has an intentional focus on trauma and trauma recovery. The app provides users with tools for screening and tracking symptoms, information on professional care services, and updates on the latest research-based methods for recovering from trauma and living a full life. Rather than being a stand-alone support or “therapist replacement”, developers have recommended this app be used in partnership with professional care services to achieve the best results.

Mood Boosting With Happify

As a daily companion to boost mood, Canadians can try the short programs, training tracks, and wellbeing exercises available through the Happify app. Designed to help users create positive change in all areas of their life that impact mental health – relationships, work/life balance, finances, and health – the app focuses on changing habits, behaviors, and mindsets with research-based tools. Users can choose to have their profiles set to public or private, and have the option to pay for a premium tier.

Compared to other mental health apps, Happify is markedly lighter fare. Users will still want to reach out to trained professionals and support lines for any serious mental health crisis, but may find the app useful in breaking out of unproductive daily behaviors or thought patterns. It may also provide a comforting option to users looking for apps that have no official governmental or institutional ties.

With Apps, There’s No Reason to Stand Alone on Mental Health

Mental health issues can create feelings of isolation, or make it seem like the only way to navigate the issue is on your own. However, with these apps (and others launching on a continual basis) it’s never been easier to find supportive tools, get someone to talk to privately at any hour, or unlock referrals for more advanced professional services. In fact, apps like these, with their low barrier for access and entry, could be just what is needed now to help improve the national mood and the mental wellbeing of the entire nation. Download one now to try… or test them all, with their free tools and support only a simple phone tap away.