By Tashi McQueen, AFRO political writer,
Report for America Corps Member,
The American healthcare system is unaffordable for the average uninsured American these days. Additional health services that help prevent or manage mental health may be even further out of reach.
Mental health can be debilitating if left unattended for too long, and more immediate access to resources is imperative for those who are suffering.
Mental health tracking phone apps like Blackfullness, Bloom: CBT Therapy & Journal, Exhale – BIWOC Well-Being and the Mood Notes – Mood Tracker can help people address and manage mental health issues like depression, anxiety and body dysmorphia at little or no cost.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapeutic approach used to treat various mental illnesses. According to the American Psychology Association (APA), CBT treatment typically involves efforts to change behaviors by facing one’s fears instead of avoiding them. Role-playing to prepare for potentially problematic interactions with others is used with instructions on how to calm one’s mind and relax one’s body.
The ultimate goal of CBT is to empower the patient to be their own therapist. Therefore, interventions include tracking the outcomes of coping skills used outside of the session as “homework”.
The Blackfullness app is designed to encourage total well-being and reduce stress, especially for the black mind.
A virtual space created by Sonia Russell and David Walker, Blackfullness focuses on the physical, emotional, social and spiritual well-being of Black people regarding their overall mental health. They believe black people are unique and should have resources that replicate that.
Minorities make up less than 10% of those enrolled in clinical trials, according to the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This means health care rarely takes into account the experience of black people, making health care less effective for people of color.
The app provides meditation, prayer, music and physical activity guidance. It’s an all-in-one service compared to individual sleep tracking and inspirational quotes apps, which can get cumbersome to manage.
The Blackfullness app has a 4.9 star rating. The application is free to download and use. It requires iOS 10.0 or later for Apple users.
Bloom: CBT Therapy and Journal
The Bloom: CBT Therapy and Journal app aims to help people improve through CBT self-help therapy.
According to CEO and co-founder Leon Mueller, Bloom has been around for three years and has reached 2.5 million people.
“While the price of a session with a 1-1 therapist can range from $75 to $400, Bloom’s price for the entire year is a fraction of the cost,” Mueller told AFRO. “All sessions are 5-15 minutes long and teach you how to do the therapy yourself.”
Users learn and practice CBT techniques through pre-recorded interactive video sessions.
Mueller said Bloom is a 10-year mission with many plans for expansion and partnership.
The app has a 4.8 star rating on Apple’s software platform. It is available on all Apple products with iOS 14.0 or later.
Exhale: BIWOC Wellness
Exhale is an emotional wellness app for people who identify as Black, Indigenous, or Women of Color (BIWOC).
It is made to be an easily accessible refuge for and by BIWOC. It aims to improve self-care, which is hugely important in the fast-growing digital and post-pandemic world.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expresses the importance of managing mental health meaningfully when demands exceed resources and coping capacity. They focus on building inner strength by encouraging self-investment with energy and love.
Features include: guided meditation suitable for BIWOC people, visualization prompts, breathing exercises, coaching and daily affirmations.
Exhale is available through Apple iOS devices with 12.0 or later and Android phones. It is free to download and use. It has a 4.8 star rating on the Apple Store.
Mood Notes: Mood Tracker
One in 25 Americans lives with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or major depression. Moodnotes is a CBT-based mood tracking and journaling app that helps people change and develop better thought patterns in the moment. Users select emojis and take notes that describe their current mood. The paid version of the app offers unlimited entries and a “Check a Thought” option to help shoppers challenge negative thoughts.
Moodnotes has a 4.7 star rating on the Apple App Store. The app is available for Apple users with iOS 13.0 or later.
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