With mental illness a huge problem in Australia – the Australian government spent $9 billion on mental health in 2015-16, and one in five Australians aged 16-85 experience mental illness each year -- getting treatment right is crucial. SMH, 2019
And research has found that half of Australian teachers suffer from anxiety and nearly one-fifth are depressed. It is clear we need targeted interventions based on the needs of those who are suffering.
A multitude of approaches have been taken to actively prevent the prevalence and impact of mental illnesses in Australia and equally so, on a global scale - from early interventions to subsidised clinical support and recent technological innovations. The growth in support from all angles towards tackling this issue is encouraging, however the old saying “prevention is better than cure” isn’t sympathetic to those who might've missed out on such initiatives in earlier years, those who may struggle with poor wellbeing on a daily basis.
Popular innovations in technology have arisen in the form of self-management apps aiming to develop positive behaviours and a breadth of skills which evidence suggests, improve mental health and wellbeing through resilience. This approach could be the most promising tool to help to combat such mental illness, from a preventative or curative perspective.
It’s important to acknowledge that clinical psychologists and psychiatrists will always have a place and it’s always preferable to consult health professionals instead of expecting that any one approach be the solution. With that being said, here’s some apps which can help you manage your own wellbeing and even the wellbeing of your classroom, for those times you might need an extra boost.
Here's 4 apps to support your social, emotional wellbeing:
Life Skills GO - A mobile app which is 100% free and brings together our amazing library of flexible, evidence-based resources designed to empower teachers and support their social and emotional wellbeing. The app also provides downloadable resources specifically for teachers to continue this learning in the classroom and facilitates a whole school approach to wellbeing.
Headspace - An app which teaches you how to meditate, breathe, and live mindfully. There are exercises on topics including managing anxiety, stress relief, breathing, happiness, and focus. Don’t worry if you’ve never meditated before.
Happify - An app with science-based activities and games to help reduce stress, overcome negative thoughts, and build greater resilience by providing effective tools and programs to improve emotional well-being.
Calm - An app for Sleep, Meditation and Relaxation. Designed to achieve better sleep, lower stress, and less anxiety with guided meditations, Sleep Stories, breathing programs, stretching exercises, and relaxing music.
But what do these apps offer that we didn’t have until now?
The ubiquity of technology and the technological explosion which has ensued since the introduction of smartphones has given us unprecedented accessibility and a huge degree of empowerment to self-manage and support our personal health and wellbeing.
Self reflection whenever, wherever - Just sitting down and reflecting upon the happenings around us has become much easier, no need for a pen and a journal. Apps provide access to this at our fingertips, which means if you are in the car, in a doctor’s waiting room or you’ve taken a brain break at work, you have the ability to check-in with yourself and better work through challenges or emotions which can happen any time.
Evidence-based activities - This increased accessibility has meant consumers have access to a broad range of information delivered by professionals, in the form of engaging evidence-based content such as guided mindfulness and meditation activities. With research showing that mindfulness based interventions (MBIs) can lead to: increase positive psychological attributes like mindfulness, meta-awareness, and self-compassion. In addition, MBIs have been shown to reduce negative thinking patterns and reactions associated with psychopathology such as rumination, worry, and emotional reactivity.
If you would like to improve your own self-management skills and boost resilience to come out of the tough times quicker, these apps can be very effective. However, it’s important to realise and acknowledge such apps are not a replacement for clinical help. If you are concerned about your own, or a loved one’s mental health and wellbeing, the best course of action is still to always consult your GP.