Anxiety is normal to experience when you’re facing an exam, about to go out on a date, or even if you’re just hanging out with friends. Yet, sometimes anxiety can get more severe than that. You might experience stress and anxiety for no reason. You might feel worry and panic when you wake up in the morning. There are various levels of anxiety including a level of anxiety that can get in the way of your daily functioning.
If you struggle with anxiety and you happen to have a smartphone, there’s a tool that you can take anywhere you go. MindShift is an app for anxiety relief for teens and young adults. Although the app won’t take the place of going to a mental health professional, it can support you between therapy appointments or support you in moments of high anxiety.
The app provides many tools that can teach you how to relax, develop more healthy ways of thinking, and identify action steps that will help you manage anxiety. The app can also provide strategies for dealing with everyday anxiety such as test taking, perfectionism, social anxiety, worry, performance anxiety, and conflict with others.
In order to develop this app, research was done on the symptoms of teens who struggle with anxiety in order to discover what would be useful and relevant. It was created by the joint effort of AnxietyBC and BC Mental Health and Addiction Services. The app is free and available to use by anyone who owns a smartphone. The most important aspect of the app is that it supports actually facing anxiety rather than trying to avoid it. It’s common for teens and young adults to avoid anxiety through the use of drugs and alcohol. Facing those stressful and anxious moments, along with the symptoms that accompany those moments, can make managing anxiety easier in the long run.
Teens in the digital age are accustomed to using social media, Internet, and mobile phone apps to access the information they need. They use digital devices to talk to their friends, watch movies, and complete their homework. Teens no longer reach for books or head to the library for information; instead they reach for something closer – their phone.
And this is becoming more and more true for teens who need support in managing their psychological symptoms. When teens need support for feeling depressed, anxious, or simply confused, they’re going online. They are spending time finding the information they need through digital sources, which is why plenty of planning, time, and money go into creating mental health apps for teens.
MindShift is not the only tool teens can use to manage their anxiety. Another popular app is one called BoosterBuddy. It provides teens with a list of coping mechanisms, tips for controlled breathing exercises, types of mental health concerns, and ways to manage symptoms. BoosterBuddy was created by Calgary-based developers Robots & Pencils, Island Health, Victoria Hospitals Foundation and a $150,000 donation from Coast Capital Savings. The app helps teens do the following:
- Check-in with how you are feeling each day
- Use coping skills
- Keep track of appointments and medications
- Get started on tasks
- Follow self-care routines
- Increase real-life socialization
It’s essential that both parents and teens know that mental health apps should not take the place of seeing a mental health professional. In fact, a good rule of thumb is when anxiety or other psychological experiences can in the way of daily living, then seeing a therapist or psychologist is necessary. The apps are simply a tool to make those everyday moments of anxiety easier. However, seeing someone who can provide a diagnosis and then develop a corresponding treatment plan is the best course of action for a teen whose anxiety is prohibiting success at school, home, or work.