Digital Resources for Mental Health at All Ages

Research and awareness surrounding mental health have grown in the last few decades, highlighting its crucial place in the betterment of overall quality of life. That said, as unprecedented stressors arise from the pandemic and an increasingly divisive political climate, mental health self-care has arguably never been more important. 

Luckily, parallel advancements in digital technology have created a multitude of resources for mental health betterment. These outlets span many clinical focal points, and they can be found in mediums ranging from websites and webinars to mobile apps and videos. 

Technology’s Impact on Mental Health Accessibility

Collectively, today’s technology is helping more people access a wide variety of applicable mental health resources. This technology is not just crucial for increasing societal awareness of these conditions — it has the power to enhance healthcare accessibility as a whole. During the pandemic, these benefits have been magnified amidst spikes in mental illness and a general shift to socially distanced living. 

Some areas where we are seeing the benefit of technology in the mental health arena include: 

  1. Telehealth: The ability to virtually connect with mental health practitioners could improve access to mental health care, as approximately 111 million in the U.S. live in areas experiencing a shortage of mental health professionals. 
  2. Apps: There are now an estimated 10,000–20,000 mental health self-help apps publicly available for download. 
  3. Gaming: Games are being developed to help address depression in teens and ADHD in kids.
  4. VR: Certain virtual reality tools have been shown to treat anxiety, phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), among other conditions.
  5. Digital Educational Resources: The internet offers access to countless mental health support, therapy, and educational resources. 

With approximately 4.7 billion internet users across the globe, more people than ever have direct access to digitally available mental health resources. Below, we have included a comprehensive, age-segmented overview of some of these resources focusing on various aspects of mental health, including a variety of top-rated apps selected for their effectiveness and popularity. 

Mood Improvement 

Sometimes, better mental wellbeing can start with a simple mood boost. There are numerous digital resources aimed at initiating this process — nipping adverse emotions and negative thoughts in the bud before they can become overwhelming. 

Children (ages 2 to 10)

Children are often tough to read when it comes to mood- and emotion-related challenges, but the introduction of mood improvement exercises can help establish behavioral stability during pre-adolescent development. 

Resources

Adolescents (ages 11 to 17)

A lifestage notorious for hormonal fluctuation, adolescence is a crucial period for learning mood management skills. Teens are expected to balance a variety of developmental changes and new responsibilities, which can be overwhelming without the occasional emotional reset. 

Resources

  • Emotion Regulation for Teens — A video providing an overview of adolescent mood regulation. 
  • Smiling Mind — A meditation-based app providing emotional mindfulness exercises. 
  • Sanvello — A mental health app that includes a goal-based mood tracker. 

Adults (ages 18 and above)

Even beyond adolescence, mood improvement remains a priority in adult mental health. Life experience comes with an enhanced knowledge of the world — including the various stressors of a busier, more adult-oriented schedule. These pressures warrant additional dedication in managing underlying emotions. 

Resources

Stress

Stress is perhaps the most common unpleasant feeling, as it transcends age and can appear in situations ranging from office work and school projects to professional sports and dating. Fortunately, the feeling’s widespread nature has given way to an even broader array of digital stress management resources.

Children (ages 2 to 10)

Though childhood is often viewed as a simple, carefree time, it can quickly become rife with stress under certain circumstances. A child’s developmental fragility can heighten stress associated with significant life changes — even positive changes like starting school or trying a new activity. Early intervention is key in mitigating stress-forming habits later in life. 

Resources

Adolescents (ages 11 to 17)

Between increased school work, personal changes, and shifting thoughts on impending adulthood, adolescence can be considerably stressful. This particular period is a much-studied corner of mental health research, and a variety of technological resources are tailored to its unique triggers. 

Resources

  • Stress for Teens — A webpage dedicated to teen stress management that includes videos, exercises, and tips.
  • How We Cope With Anxiety and Stress — A video discussing teenage stress and various management techniques. 
  • SuperBetter — A popular app that gamifies stress management, making the process more goal-oriented. 

Adults (ages 18 and above)

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), stress in adults is reaching overwhelming levels due to a variety of factors, with two out of three adults reporting increased stress from the COVID-19 pandemic alone. With this data in mind, stress management has become an imperative aspect of modern adulthood. 

Resources

  • Breathe2Relax — An app providing stress-relieving breathing routines based on personalized stress levels. 
  • Wysa — An award-winning chatbot app focused, in part, on stress management, and includes access to licensed therapists. 
  • Mental Health For Remote Workers — A webinar on managing remote work stress during the pandemic. 

Mood Disorders

“Mood disorder” is a clinical category encapsulating diagnoses from generalized anxiety to bipolar disorder. These conditions generally distort a person’s emotional framework and can interfere with basic life functions. As with stress, the broadness of mood disorders is a double-edged sword, as their frequency and nuance have spawned an equally layered list of technological resources.

Children (ages 2 to 10)

Childhood mood disorders are some of the most under-diagnosed conditions in medicine, according to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. What’s more, even when properly diagnosed, these conditions can be difficult to address at this early stage of development. The following resources are predicated on addressing this issue at its core, helping children cope with their conditions while learning more about them. 

Resources

Adolescents (ages 11 to 17)

Hormonal changes and overall mental development put adolescents at increased risk for depression, anxiety, and behavioral instability (among other mental health issues). Teens on the threshold of such problems may find solace in the following resources. 

Resources

Adults (ages 18 and above)

For adults, dealing with mood disorders can be difficult while trying to work and be a good parent. Such situations can either be a culmination (or continuation) of preexisting symptoms or something entirely new — and both are difficult to approach in their own way. These resources can help adults navigate this process. 

Resources

Self-Image

Self-esteem is a timelessly relevant aspect of mental health wellness. Whether it involves body image, intelligence, or social confidence, one’s self-image can be easily broken at almost any stage of life. Unfortunately, this can lead to a series of critical issues if not addressed early and often.

Children (ages 2 to 10)

Children are impressionable by default, and this makes them especially vulnerable to attacks on their self-image. In this regard, it is important to leverage self-esteem-building resources to fortify confidence and iron out early insecurities. 

Resources

Adolescents (ages 11 to 17)

Adolescents are even more prone to self-image problems due to bodily changes, newfound emotions, and growing perceptions of the world around them. The following resources strive to meet these difficult factors head-on, providing tools and exercises to establish greater self-confidence. 

Resources

Adults (ages 18 and above)

Though free of developmental struggles, adults are hardly impervious to issues relating to self-image. For some, these matters may have started early in life and left to fester; for others, they may be the byproduct of work- or home-related stress. Whatever the reason, these resources are designed to help adults feel better about themselves.

Resources

Mindfulness

A growing buzzword in the mental health community, mindfulness generally refers to a stronger, more intimate focus on one’s environment and physical being — as well as the constant shooing away of intrusive, undesirable thoughts. This tactic helps build a sort of mental muscle memory that promotes mood management, anxiety reduction, and sharper focus.

Children (ages 2 to 10)

Children are often overlooked when it comes to mindfulness exercises, but even they can participate in this beneficial process. Here are a few helpful resources for getting started.

Resources

Adolescents (ages 11 to 17)

Mindfulness can be instrumental in helping adolescents compartmentalize their various stressors — from school to budding relationships. These tools were built with the teenage brain in mind. 

Resources

  • Mindfulness for Teens — A website covering various aspects of mindfulness during adolescence. 
  • Mindfulness: Youth Voices — A video outlining the importance of mindfulness for young people. 
  • Mindshift — A teen-oriented mindfulness app designed by Anxiety Canada Association. 

Adults (ages 18 and above)

The average adult work schedule can be harrowing, which can lead to a lack of mental awareness and increase the likelihood of emotional hardship. Mindfulness is a great answer to this perpetual dilemma, and the following resources serve as a great foundation. 

Resources

  • Ten Percent Happier — A mindfulness app based on a memoir by Dan Harris, a news anchor who discovered mindfulness after experiencing a panic attack on live television.
  • Headspace — A popular app aimed primarily at mindfulness. The app also includes stress reduction, sleep improvement, and other key mental health fields. 
  • Calm — Another top-rated mindfulness app focused on providing meditation exercises and general mental betterment. 

Addiction Recovery

Addiction can take many forms, each with its own degree of difficulty, but recovery-oriented technologies have risen to the challenge of turning the tide. Now, there is a wide range of digital resources aimed at communal healing, behavioral therapy, and self-reconciliation.

Children (ages 2 to 10)

Though addiction is typically associated with teens and adults, it does not discriminate against children. The following resources focus on making addiction easier to understand from a child’s perspective. 

Resources

Adolescents (ages 11 to 17)

As their horizons expand, adolescents are exposed to a large number of substances, habits, and other indulgences that can quickly become addictive. These resources can help teens begin to address addiction, seek help, and change the trajectory of their lives. 

Resources

Adults (ages 18 and above)

It can be difficult to curb addiction as an adult — especially one that has persisted for years. That said, by pairing proactive treatment with the resources below, recovering addicts can put their best foot forward. 

Resources

Grief and Bereavement

The death of a friend or loved one is objectively difficult to process, and the dire need for bereavement support has helped generate a series of digital coping resources.

Children (ages 2 to 10)

Sadness is a normal human emotion that can easily turn to grief when magnified through a child’s eyes. These resources aim to address this sensitive process with empathy and consideration for childhood development. 

Resources

Adolescents (ages 11 to 17)

The grieving process can be compounded by the challenges of adolescence. The following resources are built with this development process in mind. 

Resources

Adults (ages 18 and above)

Adults may potentially have an easier time rationalizing grief, but it does little to dull the pain of loss. Grieving adults can gain insight into their feelings with the help of the following resources. 

Resources

Technology Use Tips

While technology clearly offers a lot in terms of mental health improvement, its use and abuse can also lead to an array of mental health issues. As you’re using the resources above, here are some tips for optimizing your technology habits to improve your mental health without inadvertently making things worse.

  • Limit screen time when possible, keeping a rough record of time spent on your device.
  • Keep your device separate from your sleeping space to ensure you are getting a good night’s sleep. 
  • Use social media to find a community built around your mental health goals. 
  • Maintain a healthy sitting or standing posture when using your device, avoiding slouching or hunching. 
  • Only use Wi-Fi when absolutely necessary.
  • Limit digital activity to one outlet or medium at a time. 
  • Merge your device use with physical activity (yoga, running, walking, etc.). 
  • Turn off notifications wherever possible to avoid excessive device use. 
  • Swap one technology-based mental health therapy for a device-free alternative weekly (mindful meditation, muscle relaxation, etc.).
  • Consider a digital detox, taking a break from all devices for a short or extended period of time. 

Technology has opened new, exciting doors for the mental health field, and it continues to grow to encompass more elements of the mental health sector. The links above allow individuals to seek guidance, comfort, and a sense of community from a variety of easily accessed virtual locations. In tandem with clinical treatment, these resources represent a new age of personalized, supportive digital healthcare. 

Disclaimer

This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

If you are in crisis or you think you may have an emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. If you’re having suicidal thoughts, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to talk to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area at any time (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline). If you are located outside the United States, call your local emergency line immediately.

The inclusion of these resources is for educational purposes only and does not constitute an endorsement by UT Austin Boot Camps or The University of Texas at Austin. 

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