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WPSU's Mental Health Q&A: Which apps to trust?

 FILE - Illustration of woman with healthy/positive thoughts of life around her.
Illustration of woman with healthy/positive thoughts of life around her.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Young adulthood is a time when many mental health issues first surface, and college can be a stressful time. WPSU asked Penn State students their questions about mental health. Then we got experts to answer them for our “Mental Health Q&A” series this month.

Dr. Aiesha Lee is an associate professor at Penn State and a licensed mental health counselor. She answered a question from Penn State student Caitlin Farber.

Caitlin Farber:  My question is are there any trusted apps or online resources that are clinically approved of that I could trust over others to manage my anxiety and depression?  

Dr. Aiesha Lee: We're constantly on our phones and on our devices and, you know, apps are great. There's Insight Timer, there's Headway, there's Calm, and all those apps promote taking care of yourself, right? And they promote mindfulness. And we know that mindfulness is something that combats anxiety and depression because it brings you to the present moment and so all the noise in your mind isn't as noisy, so to speak.

However, it might be better actually not use an app. Get outside, right, go for a walk or engage with friends, family, cook. You know, do things outside of devices.

What I understand about the brain and how we work is when we're on these devices, and we're when we're disconnected from the real world, the present, anxiety and depression lives there. It thrives there. So maybe not use an app, maybe just kind of, see what's actually around you to help you manage these difficult emotions.

We need to be present, we need to find time to do that…because if we get too caught up in the past or future, we get burned out. We can't be our full selves.