June 6, 2023

The COVID-19 pandemic has immensely taken a toll on the mental health of Canadians as increases in anxiety, depression, loneliness and isolation continue to rise.

The Centre of Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) reports that 50 per cent of Canadians have seen worsening mental health as a result of the pandemic. Marinela Trickett, registered psychotherapist, says a lack of connection has significantly contributed to these increased mental health issues.

“We are amidst an absolutely unprecedented situation,” said Trickett. “As humans, it’s innate to seek connection… but we are isolated at home and that goes against our nature as a species and brings forward fear of abandonment and rejection.”

This fear and lack of connection have also contributed to increased feelings of loneliness and isolation. According to Ipsos, 54 per cent of Canadians currently feel lonely or isolated as a result of COVID-19.

Amidst such challenging times, many have turned to digital therapy. As a result, the usage and creation of mental wellbeing apps have surged.

The Organization for the Review of Care and Health Apps (ORCHA) reported a 7,500 per cent increase in searches for health apps related to self-harm, an 86 per cent increase in searches for mental health apps related to anxiety and a 176 per cent increase in apps dedicated to the management of depression.

“People are suffering and looking for resources to help them,” said Greg Klym, Waterloo-based life and wellness coach. “In this technologically inclined world that we live in, apps are everywhere and there are so many apps for everything so people are on their phones trying to access a resource that will support them in some way.”

Klym says mental wellbeing apps provide users with mental and emotional support through the educational, practical and common humanity elements of digital therapy. With a substantial amount of options to chose from, he highlights the importance of finding the right one.

Listed below are three mental wellbeing apps that Klym highly recommends based on accessibility, relatability and content.

1. Ten Percent Happier Meditation:

The Ten Percent Happier Meditation app supports mental and emotional wellbeing by providing users with guided meditations and practical teachings related to stress, happiness and sleep. The meditation teachers within the app are renowned leaders who offer several differentiating approaches. Klym highlights the app’s easy accessibility and says it is very well-rounded and relatable.

“You’re in this community,” says Klym. “You’re not in a physical community but you’re in a shared experience where you know that thousands of other people are doing the same thing that you are.”

2. Insight Timer:

Insight Timer is the number one rated free app for sleep, anxiety and stress. It equips users with many resources such as courses, guides, talks, events, listenings, music and more. Klym emphasizes that these resources cover a wide variety of topics that are immensely important for physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

“It’s an expansive app where you can find whatever you’re looking for… there are thousands and thousands of guided meditations in every style and technique.”

3. Calm:

The Calm app strives to help users improve their overall health and happiness. Their main themes focus on self-improvement, bettering one’s sleep quality, reducing anxiety or stress and improving one’s focus. While Klym says the approaches to these themes are extremely enlightening, he also specifically highlights the kid’s section within the app.

“I’ve used the Calm app for kids I’ve worked with in the past,” said Klym. “It’s kid-appropriate and kids understand it because it’s in a very accessible voice… it’s kind, it’s light and the words they use are relatable for kids.”

The mental health of Canadians has been impacted by the pandemic for over a year now. With Ontario recently entering a province-wide lockdown, these digital therapy apps remain an accessible option amidst another month of distance and isolation.

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