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A user’s guide to therapy on your smartphone

More than 75 percent of Americans now own a smartphone, up from just 35 percent in 2011, according to Pew Research Center studies published in 2017. When on our smartphones, time is increasingly spent on applications, or apps, with U.S. smartphone users averaging 3 hours, 23 minutes a day using apps compared to averaging 50 minutes a day using our phones to search the Internet, reports eMarketer, a global company that tracks and analyzes digital marketplace information.

A massive app smorgasbord is at our fingertips. As of March 2017, Apple users had access to 2.2 million apps; Android users had even more options: 2.8 million apps, according to eMarketer. Among them are mental-health apps for everything from tracking symptoms and triggers of anxiety to accessing trained counselors for help with depression or other mood disorders.

For example, the Self-help for Anxiety Management (SAM) app offers anxiety-reducing strategies. If anger is the issue, What’s Up? might be a good choice. Headspace provides guided meditation; 7 Cups gives access to free, confidential chats with trained volunteer listeners; Moodtrack helps the user chart mood swings.

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs developed PTSD Coach to help veterans and others cope with trauma. MY3 is a suicide prevention app, … and the list could go on and on.

Most of the aforementioned apps are free. Some mental-health apps have fees after a trial period or if the user wants more in-depth services. Many apps are available that connect users to licensed therapists in real time, with the user paying a fee that is often lower than seeing a therapist.

Convenience is key. Some studies show people are more willing to admit and seek help for a mental-health issue if they can do so without a face-to-face encounter with a therapist or without scheduling and waiting for or traveling some distance to see a therapist. Help is usually 24/7. More.

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