BYU CAPS gives students access to free mental health apps

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Mental health apps have become popular among students, according to Klint Hobbs, a psychologist at BYU Counseling and Psychological Services.

“Where the apps seem to be very helpful is, number one, really instituting healthy habits, so that maybe you won’t need counseling,” Hobbs said. According to Hobbs, these apps help with becoming aware of one’s emotions and learning how to relax and meditate, which can prevent mental health from deteriorating in the first place. 

Hobbs said the apps work really well in addition to counseling. “Being able to track your mood over time and bringing that back to your therapist can be helpful.”

CAPS offers a list of accessible apps to help students cope with the stress and anxiety of college life. Here’s the list of the apps offered and what they cover:

  1. Sanvello. When CAPS received a donation for student wellness, it decided to give students free access to the app. “It just seemed like a really good, well-rounded app that had a lot of research to back it up,” Hobbs said.
  2. Daylio is an app for mood tracking that generates charts to identify mood fluctuations.
  3. Calm Harm provides five to 15-minute activities to prevent the urge to self-harm. It includes hotlines and tracks the efficiency of the activities completed. 
  4. My3 aids with suicide prevention while creating a safety plan and emergency contacts. 
  5. Insight Timer helps users practice mindfulness meditation. Esperanza Dotto, a student majoring in social work said her experience with Insight Timer has been incredible. “I have loved how practical and customizable the app is. It is available in so many languages and there are such interesting insights from very diverse individuals,” Dotto said.
  6. What’s Up Mental Health App can be used for anxiety and depression. It includes a diary, negative thinking tracking and grounding games. 
  7. Breathe2Relax includes breathing exercises for anxiety and panic management. 
  8. You Are a Survivor was designed to aid sexual assault survivors in Utah. 

Hobbs said that while apps are very helpful, they shouldn’t replace counseling when a student is in real need of professional assistance.

He said some warning signs to help identify when counseling is needed are “consistent difficulty sleeping, consistent change in appetite, consistent loss of motivation and consistent anxiety, even when the thing you were worried about is gone.” 

The CAPS website offers a mental health screener that’s free and gives personalized feedback. “It gives you some insight into ‘can I solve this by myself or should I seek counseling?’” Hobbs said. 

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