This past year of lockdowns and quarantines has underscored the importance of online mental health services for those in need of mental healthcare. These services take on several forms, ranging from free mental health apps and online support groups to online therapy. Online therapy has been a lifeline for millions of people throughout the pandemic, but there are other free mental health resources that can be accessed free of charge.
Free Online Mental Health Support Groups and Forums
MentalHealth.gov is an official government-based and sponsored resource for all mental illnesses, including online and in-person resources. It’s free to access.
Daily Strength is a peer-based online forum and support group for anxiety.
Mental Health America. A community-based nonprofit with interactive tools to get help for mental illness.
Turn2Me provides free online support groups for depression, anxiety, and stress. Turn2Me is free, with mental health professionals available. Turn2me requires a reservation to get a time slot to speak with a trained professional.
Health Unlocked. Health Unlocked is a comprehensive resource with free access to a wide variety of mental health resources. Though focused primarily on depression and anxiety, they offer resources for all mental health issues.
Free Mental Health Apps
Anxiety Apps. Over 40 million American adults live with an anxiety disorder. The following apps can help you learn to manage anxiety, in conjunction with treatment from a professional mental healthcare provider.
- Self-Help for Anxiety Management (SAM). SAM allows you to track your anxious thoughts and feelings along with situations that ramp up anxiety. SAM also helps you create your own anxiety-fighting toolkit so you can learn what works for you. (Free; iOS and Android)
- MindShift. MindShift is a free mental health app made for teens and young adults living with anxiety. Mind Shift emphasizes the need for changing one’s thoughts about anxiety and anxiety-provoking situations. MindShift also helps teens and young adults reframe emotions and ride out tough situations with self-care suggestions (Free; iOS and Android).
Bipolar Disorder Apps. Bipolar disorder affects almost 6 million people every year. It’s characterized by episodes of low, depressed mood similar to those of major depression, with at least one episode of mania in a person’s lifetime. Mania is an extremely elevated mood that incapacitates a person’s perceptions, often leading to a person recklessly overspending, abusing alcohol or other substances, or engaging in sexual promiscuity.
- eMoods. eMoods is specially designed for those with bipolar disorder. Users of the app can track their symptoms, including depression, elevated mood, and irritability. The app has a monthly calendar users can color-code for particular moods or events, then export a summary each month to identify mood triggers. (Free; iOS and Android)
Depression Apps. Depressive disorders affect over 17 million Americans every year. Depression causes about 20,000 suicides in the USA every year and accounts for billions of dollars in lost productivity.
- MoodTools. MoodTools helps support people with depression by providing a thought diary for recording your thoughts and feelings, with analysis tools to help modify your behaviors. MoodTools is based around an effective form of psychotherapy that examines how our thinking shapes our behaviors (CBT). MoodTools also provides the depression questionnaire PHQ-9 depression questionnaire to track your symptom severity. (Free, iOS for iPad and Android)
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Apps. About 2 million US adults live with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). OCD involves a person having intrusive, disturbing, and unwanted thoughts (obsessions) coupled with repetitive, ritualized behaviors that relieve the anxiety caused by the distressing thoughts. Identifying and defusing the triggers associated with a person’s OCD is an important first step in short-circuiting the cycle of obsessive thoughts and compulsive rituals that temporarily relieve anxiety, followed by more obsessive thoughts.
- GG OCD. GG OCD helps users train themselves to disregard negative and intrusive thoughts, challenging them to allow a more adaptive mindset to grow. The app uses brief, fun games that explore methods of building healthier ways of thinking. (Free; iOS and Android)
While there are many free resources available online, it’s sometimes best to work with a mental health professional in-person to help get our lives back. One of the newer and most effective treatments available is TMS therapy. TMS is a painless, non-invasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to improve symptoms of depression. TMS has become a great option for initial treatment options, as it’s become widely available and is covered by many insurance providers. TMS is FDA-cleared and free of side effects.
This blog post is meant to be educational in nature and does not replace the advice of a medical professional. See full disclaimer.