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Articles tell us what to do, but apps help lead us and remind us to practice self-care every day. Below are apps we recommend, and many have been shown to be effective in evidence-based research. These high quality apps have been made available to UCSF, with some also free to the general public.
The Stress Free UC Study found that Headspace, used daily for just 10 minutes, reduced stress in a meaningful way and the benefits lasted for two months after stopping use. Headspace can be done in the morning or evening, alone or with family, or anytime you need to take a break.
Please consider trying one of these apps.
Meditation and relaxation
- Headspace: Two-week free trial for the general public. (Providers with a National Provider Identifier can sign up for free full access.)
- Calm: Seven-day free trial. A meditation, sleep, and relaxation app that also provides resources specifically for coping with COVID-19 anxiety.
- Stop, Breathe & Think: Always free, and for kids too.
- Insight Timer: Always free. This is not a daily app, but rather a great library where you can search for various types of meditations and lengths by excellent teachers.
- 10% Happier: Free and paid options available. Health care providers can use redemption code HEALTHCARE to unlock all content.
- UCLA Mindful App: Free and has meditation by Diana Winston.
- Mindfulness Coach: Mindfulness Coach 2.0 was developed to help veterans, service members, and others learn how to practice mindfulness. The app provides a gradual, self-guided training program designed to help you understand and adopt a simple mindfulness practice.
Coping with stress and anxiety
- Sanvello: Clinically validated techniques for reducing stress and treating anxiety and depression (free premium access during COVID-19 pandemic).
- Happify: Some free content, including stress reduction and cognitive techniques to address anxiety.
- MindShift CBT: Free content, including cognitive behavioral therapy strategies to address general worry, social anxiety, and panic.
- PTSD Coach: Created by VA’s National Center for PTSD and the Department of Defense’s National Center for Telehealth & Technology. This app provides you with education about post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), information about professional care, a self-assessment for PTSD, opportunities to find support, and tools that can help you manage the stresses of daily life with PTSD.
- PTSD Family Coach: In conjunction with PTSD Coach, the PTSD Family Coach app is for family members of those living with PTSD. The app provides extensive information about PTSD, how to take care of yourself, how to take care of your relationship with your loved one or with children, and how to help your loved one get the treatment they deserve.
- CBT-i Coach - Free cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, available for iOS and Android.
Interested in finding another high quality mental health app, but feeling overwhelmed by all the choices? PsyberGuide is a helpful non-profit site developed by UCSF alum and UC Irvine professor Stephen Schueller, PhD, that provides expert reviews on mental health apps (both credibility and user experience) and offers solid recommendations.
The Daylight and Sleepio apps are usually only offered through paying employers, but are now accessible to UCSF employees for free when you sign up using the links below in the next 30 days. Your free account will last for a year from signup and includes access to 24/7 user support.
- Learn more about Daylight (customer support: firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Access to Daylight for UCSF employees (MyAccess login required)