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TW: This article makes small reference to self-harm in no distinct detail. If you, or anyone you know, are struggling with self-harm, please visit the NHS website  for further information.


There are many mental health apps on the market. They vary in quality. It can be difficult to decide which ones are worth the time and space on your phone to download.  The problem is that when these apps tend to be built there is no assessment criteria for measuring the quality of what is produced.

In this article I will be introducing you to some of the apps which are recommended by the NHS for mental health. It means that these apps have been assessed for quality. (All of these apps can be downloaded from either the App Store or Google Play.)


Worry Tree

When we have several things rattling around in our mind making it difficult to focus on anything I can often be helpful to write these things down on a piece of paper, in a journal or on an app. Doing this helps us to defuse from the thoughts, that is, separate ourselves from them.

Worry Tree is a free app that’s based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), an approach that is often useful in helping people to break helpful habits.

The app encourages you to notice your worries and to challenge them by assessing how true they are based on evidence in the real world. Thoughts aren’t facts.

This app can also be used to help you to create an action plan for managing your worry.


Feeling Good: Positive Mindset

This is another app based on CBT. It is designed for people aged 18 and over.

The idea behind this app is that it is designed to help you build your resilience and improve the way you feel about yourself in terms of self-esteem and self-confidence. It comes with four free audio tracks that feature soothing music and encouraging spoken words.

There are in-app purchases, which if you buy will unlock all of the 12 positive mental training audio tracks.



Headspace is best known for its little orange dot that slowly expands and contracts. it is suitable for beginners. The idea is you match the speed of your breathing to the movement of this dot.

It is an app you can log into using either your apple account, Facebook or Google account. You can also set up an account separate to any of these things.

On the app you will find various meditation tracks design to help you to relax. Some of these are free and you can get along by simply using the free recordings. There is also a subscription service which opens up the range of content available to you through the app.



Calm is a meditation app and is suitable for beginners. In a similar way to headspace come has a blue d it that encourages you to breathe out more slowly than you breathe in.

You can create an account by linking it to your Facebook or Google account or you can create your own account separate to these things.


The next three apps are for helping people to manage the urge to self-harm.*

Calm Harm

From the teenage mental health charity Stem4, this app is designed to help people to resist or manage the urge to self-harm. The idea on this app, in some ways similar to the dot, is to ride the ‘wave’.

There are a number of different activities in this app, namely Comfort, Distract, Express Yourself Release, Random and Breathe.

The idea behind this app is based on the principles of Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), which encourages people to find their inner strength, build meaningful relationships, create helpful habits and reduce suffering by regulating emotions, to stop us getting overwhelmed by them.


Blue Ice

Blue ice is similar to Calm Harm in that it is designed to help young people manage their emotions and reduce the urge to self-harm.

It offers a series of evidence-based techniques to help reduce the amount of stress someone feels that they are in. It also includes a mood diary.

There are also emergency phone numbers to call if the person still feels the urge to harm themselves, and to help keep themselves safe.



DistrACT is an award-winning free to use app that has been created by doctors to provide information and advice about self-harm and suicidal thoughts. It contains links to local services make an offer support to people who feel too lonely or too ashamed to seek help for themselves.


* In this article, I mention that some of these apps are designed to help people feel less need to self-harm. Self-harm, sometimes also described by doctors as ‘Non suicidal self injury’ (NSSI), is a reaction designed to help someone who is very much caught up in their unhelpful thoughts and heightened unpleasant emotions to break out of that state quickly and drastically. It is not a sign that this person wants to kill themselves. It is a sign that this person is struggling to show themselves self-compassion.



Article written by Emma Ross.

Emma is a CCHA tenant. She has worked as a counsellor for Mind for 7 years, and has also worked in GP surgeries for the Cardiff & Vale NHS in Ely and on an Employee Assistance Program. You can find her on social media @WorkSmartLiveHappy


Disclaimer: All opinions and thoughts are solely the author’s, and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the website or its affiliates.