Mental health issues are among those at the fore after the tragic rampage shootings Friday in Newtown, Conn. A few smartphone applications are available for people dealing with mental illness - their own or a loved one's. Apps are no substitute for professional help, but they could inform and provide community for those in need.
Toxic Thinking is a free app from Boultons MultiMedia for Android and Apple. The app is meant to help users recognize habitual negative thought - the bad "self-talk" in themselves, or that they may spot in someone close - that can take a heavy toll on health and relationships.
To start off, the Toxic Thinking app explains the importance of good nutrition, getting enough sleep, and maintaining personal boundaries. The menu screen offers a simple guide to dealing with "toxic thinking triggers," symptoms, and "appropriate action." Tap each for more information.
Tabs on each page link to screens within the app or to websites of resource material, such as sites on eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and suicide.
The Mental Health News Reader for iPhone, 99 cents from Splaysoft L.L.C., aggregates feeds from other sites that concentrate on mental health reporting, such as MedScape, MentalHelp.net, and counselingresources.com.
The app is set up so that you can delete unwanted sources or add "rss" feeds from other sites.
From inside the app, you can post and read comments on articles, or send e-mails containing the article links.
On the free MHF (Mental Health Forum) app for Android and Apple from Neil Morris, you have to set up an account. Then you get access to an active community that discusses all manner of issues from the mundane - how to get ready for Christmas - to incredibly intense - "I can't bear to breathe another minute."
Users (mental health workers are encouraged to participate) weigh in to help one another and refer people to intervention services when needed.