The app has a focus on helping people to look after their emotional wellbeing and be kind to themselves, a key theme of this year’s MHAW. Called Samaritans Self-Help, it offers practical advice on how to cope and stay safe for people who are going through a difficult time.
There’s a mood tracker to allow people to record how they’re feeling. The app will then recommend evidence-based coping techniques based on how someone is feeling, as well as activities others have found useful when experiencing similar feelings, such as muscle relaxation, breathing and written exercises.
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In particular, the app will be helpful for those who don’t have the privacy to call the charity’s helpline or don’t have any face-to-face support networks at the moment.
The charity was set to launch the app later this year but brought it forward following the impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on our mental health. The coronavirus support pages on the Samaritans website have been viewed over 140,000 times since lockdown began. It’s no wonder the charity is seeing such demand at the moment: a study from the Mental Health Foundation found that a quarter of UK adults have felt loneliness due to the pandemic, and this figure rises to 44 per cent in the 18-24 age group.
Speaking about the launch of the app, the charity’s CEO Ruth Sutherland said: “We’re pleased to be able to launch our new self-help app and provide another channel of support for people during this challenging and worrying time. We know that the need for digital resources to support our mental wellbeing has never been greater, particularly when access to face-to-face support services and networks might be limited.”
Samaritans has created new online resources for those who are supporting someone who is struggling, including practical ways for people to look after themselves when they are supporting others.
Apps to help people with their mental health and anxiety are very much in demand at the moment. Headspace has added some new child-friendly mindfulness videos in a partnership with Sesame Street, whilst the start-up’s former head of research, Nick Begley, recently launched his own app along with anti-anxiety author Chloe Brotheridge named Calmer You.
Mindfulness and meditation apps aren’t the be-all and end-all when it comes to mental health, but they can certainly be part of the toolkit.
The Samaritans Self-Help app is free to access download at selfhelp.samaritans.org