Top 5 Mental Health Apps To Get You Through The Holiday Season
Calm is an app for mindful meditation. The home page shows a relaxing nature scene which can be customized to the user’s preference. Sections on the home page are: Music, Meditation and Sleep. The free trial version offers one meditation session per day, from 2 to 30 minutes in length, and focused music tracks set to scenic photos. Purchase of a subscription provides users with unlimited access to focused meditation programs, sleep stories, and customization options. Additional features include daily reminders to meditate and tracking of user meditation statistics.Read the Professional Review for Calm: A Professional Review
Available for: Requires iOS 10.0 and watchOS 6.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Apple TV. Android version required varies with device. Available on the Web.
Developer: Calm.com, Inc.
Type of Treatment: Mindfulness
Targeted Conditions: Mood Disorders, Stress and Anxiety
Target Audience: Not Specified
Designed to be used in conjunction with a professional? No
Languages Available: English, French, German, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish
Cost: Free with in-app purchases
Get it on: Apple App Store, Google Play, Web
A Randomized Controlled Trial of 88 college students explored the initial efficacy and sustained effects of using Calm for 8 weeks compared to a wait-list control on stress, mindfulness, and self-compassion in college students with elevated stress. Those who used Calm differed significantly on the outcomes of stress, mindfulness, and self-compassion (Huberty, Green, Glissmann, Larkey, Puzia, & Lee. 2019. https://mhealth.jmir.org/2019/6/e14273)
A cross-sectional survey of 12,151 paid subscribers of the Calm app aimed to describe the demographics, clinical characteristics, and usage patterns of the sample and explore the relationship between self-reported app usage and changes in health, stress, and sleep. The frequency of using Calm was associated with incremental changes in noticing changes in mental health, physical health and stress (Huberty, Vranceanu, Carney, Breus, Gordon, & Puzia. 2019. https://mhealth.jmir.org/2019/11/e15648/)
In a qualitative study of Calm with myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) patients, 29%(14/48) of the patients only used the 10% Happier app, 21% (10/48) of the patients only used the Calm app, and 46% (22/48) of the patients used both apps during the 8-week intervention. The qualitative findings of this study suggest that MPN patients who are naïve or nearly naïve meditators perceived mobile phone meditation as enjoyable, preferred the Calm app over the 10% Happier app, perceived the Calm app as more appealing (eg, narrator’s voice and different meditations or background sounds offered), and perceived beneficial effects of meditation on mental health, sleep, fatigue, and pain. (Huberty, Eckert, Larkey, Joeman, & Mesa. 2019. https://cancer.jmir.org/2019/2/e14292)
In another study, adult cancer patients and survivors who are Calm users (N=82) were recruited through the Daily Calm Facebook page. Participants completed a Web-based survey related to Calm app use and satisfaction, interest in and ideas for a cancer-specific Calm app, and demographic characteristics. Responses suggest ways in which the current Calm app could be adapted to better fit cancer patients’ and survivors’ needs and preferences, including adding cancer-specific content, increasing the amount of content focusing on coping with strong emotions, developing communities for Calm users who are cancer patients and survivors, and including features that track cancer-related symptoms (Huberty, Puzia, Eckert, & Larkey. 2020. https://cancer.jmir.org/2020/1/e16926/?utm_source=TrendMD&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=JMIR_TrendMD_1) “
We review apps against rating criteria developed by experts in the field. Some of those criteria are:
We look at the research supporting the technology and the credibility of the development process.
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We explore how fun, functional, easy-to-use, engaging, and interesting the technology is.
A professional in a relevant field downloads and uses the technology and writes a narrative review, highlighting pros & cons and some recommendations for use.