News That Matters

Improve your mood: how technology is helping Black Americans address mental health


By Tashi McQueen, AFRO Political Writer,
Report for America Corps Member,
tmcqueen@afro.com

The American healthcare system is unaffordable for the average uninsured American these days. Additional health services that help prevent or manage mental health can be even further out of reach.

Mental health can be debilitating if gone unaddressed for too long, and having more immediate  access to resources is imperative for those suffering.

Mental health tracking phone apps like Blackfullness, Bloom: CBT Therapy & Journal, Exhale – BIWOC Well-Being and the Mood Notes – Mood Tracker can help people address and manage mental health challenges like depression, anxiety and body dysmorphia at little to no cost.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapeutic approach used to treat various mental illnesses. According to the American Psychology Association’s (APA), CBT treatment usually involves efforts to change behavioral patterns by facing one’s fears instead of avoiding them. Role play to prepare for potentially problematic interactions with others is used along with instruction on how to calm one’s mind and relax the body. 

The ultimate goal of CBT is to empower the patient to be their own therapist, therefore, interventions include tracking the outcomes of coping skills utilized outside of the session as “homework.”

The Blackfullness app was created by Sonia Russell and David Walker for Black people looking to take control of their mental health. (Photo by Blackfullness on Facebook)

Blackfullness 

The Blackfullness app is designed to encourage whole well-being and reduce stress, particularly for the minds of Black people.

A virtual space created by Sonia Russell and David Walker, Blackfullness focuses on the physical, emotional, social and spiritual welfare of Black people regarding their overall mental health. They believe Black people are unique and should have resources that replicate that.

Minorities make up less than 10 percent of people registered in clinical trials, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. This means health care rarely considers the Black experience, making healthcare less effective for people of color.

The app provides meditation guidance, prayer, music, and physical activity. It’s an all-in-one service compared to individual sleep tracking and inspirational quote apps, which can become cumbersome to manage.

The Blackfullness app has a 4.9-star rating. The app is free to download and use. It requires iOS 10.0 or later for Apple users. 

https://www.blackfullness.com/

Bloom: CBT Therapy and Journal

The Bloom: CBT Therapy and Journal app aims to help people better themselves through CBT self-lead therapy. 

According to CEO and cofounder Leon Mueller, Bloom has been around for three years and has touched 2.5 million people.

More than 2.5 million people have already addressed their mental health by downloading the Bloom: CBT Therapy and Journal app, cofounded by Leon Mueller. Users learn cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques via pre-recorded video. (Photo by Bloom: CBT on Facebook)

“While the price of one session with a 1-1 therapist can range from $75 to $400, the price of Bloom for the entire year is a fraction of the cost,” Mueller told the AFRO. “All sessions are 5 to 15 minutes and teach you to do therapy yourself.” 

Users learn and practice techniques from CBT through pre-recorded interactive video sessions.

Mueller said Bloom is a 10-year mission with many plans to expand and partner.

The app has a 4.8-star rating on Apple’s software platform. It is available on all Apple products with iOS 14.0 or later.

Exhale: BIWOC Well-Being

Exhale is an emotional well-being app for persons who identify as Black, Indigenous, or as a woman of color (BIWOC).

Exhale: BIWOC Well-Being is an app focused on improving the mental health of people who identify as being Black, Indigenous, or as a woman of color. The platform uses visualization prompts, breathing exercises, coaching and daily affirmations to help improve mental health. (Photo by Exhale: BIWOC Well-Being on Google Play)

It is made to be an easily accessible refuge for and by BIWOC. It aims to improve self-care, which is exceedingly important in the fast-growing digital and post-pandemic world.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expresses the importance of managing mental health significantly when the demands exceed resources and the ability to cope. They focus on creating inner strength by encouraging investment in one’s self with energy and love.

Features include: Guided Meditation relevant to BIWOC persons, visualization prompts, breathing exercises, coaching and daily affirmations.

Exhale is available via Apple iOS devices with 12.0 or later and on Android phones. It is free to download and use. It has a 4.8-star rating on the Apple store. 

Moodnotes: Mood Tracker

One in 25 Americans live with a severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression. Moodnotes is a CBT-based journaling and mood-tracking app that supports people on how to shift and develop better thought patterns in the moment. Users select emojis and make notes that depict their current mood. The paid version of the app features unlimited entries and a “Check a Thought” option to help purchasers challenge negative thoughts.

Moodnotes: Mood Tracker is the perfect app to help address those pesky negative thoughts! CBT-based journaling and mood-tracking are offered by this app. (Photo by Moodnotes: Mood Tracker on Facebook)

Moodnotes has a 4.7-star rating on the Apple App Store. The app is available for Apple users with iOS 13.0 or later.

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