We all spend way more time glued to our cellular devices than we want to admit. For accountability purposes, I’ll go first – as much as I try to limit myself, on lazy days I can spend 7 to 8 hours browsing Pinterest and lurking on Instagram. WHY?! I don’t know. What I do know is that phones are dangerously addictive and if we are going to spend so much time on them, why not improve our mental health along the way? Our lovely employer, a.k.a the Boss Lady, a.k.a. Serena, recommends and provides access to some amazing mental health and self-care apps; so that everyone on the team can rest and rejuvenate between projects or at the end of the day. The apps are Sanity & Self, Calm App, Cerebral, and Bloom. Here are some pros and cons of each app, in no definitive ranking!
1. Sanity & Self
About (from the app): Sanity & Self is THE #1 Self-Care App for Women! Manage your anxiety, reduce stress, get better sleep, heal heartbreak, and gain self-love! True self-care is taking care of YOU from the inside out. From healing a broken heart, managing anxious thoughts, learning to self-love, gain confidence, or bust through insomnia, whatever type of self-care YOU need is what Sanity & Self is here to guide you through. Sanity & Self connects you with a team of experts to guide you through guided audio sessions or 1:1 messaging. We’re taking the taboo out of topics like mental health, sex, breakups, and relationships.
Pros: Sanity & Self is only for women, which is a pro for women who are looking for something geared towards the unique struggles of womanhood and a community to connect with. The app is less expensive at only $5 per month, which is a definite pro. One review wrote: “If you are interested In self development and building your boundaries without feeling guilty, I recommend this app.”
Cons: This app is iOS only, which means you’ll have to sit this one out if you have an Android or other phone. It is also only for women, which means men would probably want to look elsewhere for your community support. Some have said that the discussion board format of the app is a bit overwhelming, so if you want something simple, explore other options. Others say that the content appears to be geared more towards younger women than it is to older women, so keep that in mind when making a decision.
2. Calm App
Price: $14.99/month or $69.99/year
About (from the app): Calm is the #1 app for Sleep, Meditation and Relaxation. Join the millions experiencing better sleep, lower stress, and less anxiety with our guided meditations, Sleep Stories, breathing programs, stretching exercises, and relaxing music. Calm is recommended by top psychologists, therapists, and mental health experts. Calm is the perfect mindfulness app for beginners, but also includes hundreds of programs for intermediate and advanced users. Guided meditation sessions are available in lengths of 3, 5, 10, 15, 20 or 25 minutes so you can choose the perfect length to fit with your schedule. Sleep Stories are bedtime stories that are guaranteed to lull you into a deep and restful slumber. Calm has 100+ exclusive Sleep Stories for adults and children alike, featuring well-known talents such as Stephen Fry, Matthew McConaughey, Leona Lewis, and Jerome Flynn. Drift off to dreamland and wake up refreshed.
Pros: Calm is available for both iPhone and Android users! Positive reviews for the app say that while users didn’t expect that an app could truly solve their sleep troubles, they now have no problem falling asleep while using Calm. Users love the mood check-in feature and say that it has been much easier for them to express their emotions, good or bad. One reviewer on the app store said: “I decided to try this app out because even doctors had recommend it, while yes- price tag can seem like a lot, BUT I used this one night while my anxiety was setting in and I was asleep halfway through the sleep story and when I woke in the morning I was in disbelief. Nothing, I mean nothing had helped me until I found this app.”
Cons: This app subscription is on the more expensive side, at $14.99/month. Users of the free Calm app say that the free content is not enough to truly help with anxiety or sleep troubles and recommend using a different app if the subscription cost is too high for your liking.
Price: $85/month for the “Medication + Care Counseling Plan”
About (from the website): Expert help for your emotional health. Help for anxiety, depression, insomnia, and ADHD. Online prescriber visits, care counseling, and prescriptions delivered to your door.
Pros: Users of the website have said that it is a quick and easy sign-up process, which allows you to get assessed and book your appointment (also quick and easy). One reviewer of the website said that there is a good selection of licensed therapists — “mine was empathetic, astute and focused on my goals,” they said. While the post may seem prohibitive, this is meant to replace traditional therapy, which makes it significantly less expensive than therapy from an out-of-network provider.
Cons: According to Cerebral users, there isn’t a way to pause your plan or get credit for missed sessions during weeks you might travel out of your state, so if you are a frequent flyer or have a hectic schedule, this may mean money wasted. You can also only book one week at a time (as opposed to your entire month at once). Some insurance providers may consider Cerebral an “out-of-network provider.”
Price: $14.50/month or $59.95 for your first year
About (from the app): Bloom is the easiest & most affordable way to do therapy. Train your mind with personalized daily mental health coaching sessions to manage stress and anxiety, improve sleep, build better habits, foster stronger relationships and improve the quality of life. We use the power of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and combine interactive video classes with journaling and mindfulness exercises to help you improve your mental well-being, boost your mood & cultivate more joy in life.
Pros: The people who use Bloom, love Bloom. With over 7,000 ratings at 4.8 stars, the app appears to be a hit. “All I can say from a VERY skeptical millennial, is that this was by far the most relief I had felt in any therapy app that I’ve downloaded (and no, I don’t work or have any association with this company),” said one user of the app.
Cons: Nay-sayers cite technical glitches for the #1 reason Bloom does not work for them. One negative review said “I’ve been using Bloom off and on for a few months and it’s been a good introduction to CBT. I think I’m going to soon look for another resource though, for two reasons: one, the app is very glitchy; two, the categories are inflexible and hard to adapt.”
Realistically, what would be best for our collective mental health would be to get rid of technology altogether and frolic around in the woods with the wildflowers (probably). But since that is incredibly unrealistic and highly improbable — our whole lives exist in the metaverse — perhaps we can make our screentime a more enjoyable experience for ourselves. Let’s make a choice for ourselves! 2022 will be about self-care and self-love. I hope that this blog article was helpful in making the distinction between the mental health apps out there and which is best for you.