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There’s a real need for easy-to-access treatment options, but for now, experts are skeptical

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Last summer, Chanel Omari, 34, couldn’t fit therapy in her schedule. She was frequently out of town for work, while also working on a podcast, and it was seemingly impossible to make time for regular check-ins. But she was diagnosed with mild depression and anxiety and needed help managing her mental health, so she downloaded two apps: one called Calm, which would teach her meditation, and another called 7 Cups, which would connect her with mental health professionals or trained “listeners” (volunteers who are not necessarily certified therapists) who could offer support over text messages.

“At first I felt better,”…


What the science says about their reliability and effectiveness

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The ubiquity of smartphones and wearables makes it easy to count steps, spends, and snoozes in the name of optimizing health and happiness. But how reliable is consumer sleep tracking?

The challenge for mainstream sleep trackers is to achieve practical insights into sleep quality without being able to measure sleep directly. A direct scientific assessment of sleep is known as polysomnography, and it measures several important variables in order to profile sleep accurately. These often include recordings of eye movements, muscle activity, breathing, and brain activity. …


Meditation apps like Headspace and Calm are helping people relax. What makes the voices they use — now including Matthew McConaughey’s — so hypnotizing?

Meditation is a practice that’s inherently free, yet millions of people are turning to apps — and paying subscription fees — to learn the craft and ideally turn it into a life-changing habit. The two biggest players here are Calm and Headspace, which promise less stress, more happiness, and better sleep from their guided meditations and other in-app features.

Thanks in part to the accessibility of these apps, meditation and mindfulness have moved from being buzzwords to being habits. Calmness-seekers are shelling out anywhere from $59.99 (for Calm premium) to $96 annually (for Headspace premium). …


Programs that allow you to text or video chat your therapist are more popular than ever. Here’s how to decide if one of them is right for your mental health needs.

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Of the tens of millions of Americans who suffer from a diagnosable mental health problem each year, only half will pursue treatment, for any number of reasons. Some can’t afford it, or struggle with accessibility. Others are deterred by the stigma still associated with mental illness. And that’s not even counting all the people without a clinical diagnosis who could still benefit from therapy, but are put off by the same challenges.

In recent years, a new type of therapy has positioned itself as a solution to all of the above. Text-based teletherapy apps, often with the option of phone…

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