Apps and New Technologies Could Help Latinx Cope With Mental Health Issues

Mental Health Apps Latinx Community BELatina
Photo courtesy of BELatina.

Millions of people in America are suffering from mental health issues. Every day, people of all ages are battling significant psychological issues, ranging from stress and anxiety to more severe conditions.

While many of those people seek treatment from medical professionals, in the Latinx community, the stigma surrounding mental health is so strong that people often do not welcome opportunities for help. This is why modern mental health and stress management apps and tools that allow people to care for their mental well-being are more important than ever. 

During the Covid-19 pandemic, many children, teens, and adults struggled to keep mental instability at bay. People struggled with stress and anxiety, intense worry over the economy, sleep disruption, depression, and more. But for the Latino community, which has been disproportionately impacted during the pandemic, and who view mental health as a sign of weakness, the impact has been two-fold. 

“Mental health issues have a stigma in the Latino community,” explains psychiatrist Diana Lorenzo, MD, of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Behavioral Health. “Many Latinos would prefer to ignore these conditions over talking about them openly.” Although this is nothing new, the pandemic has exacerbated the stress that continues to plague us all.

The good news is that technology is stepping in to assist people in need of help and empower communities to take their mental health into their own hands, literally.

Covid-19 Impact on the Latino Community’s Mental Health Impact

Experts agree that the United States is facing a mental health crisis fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic. The incidence of mental health problems is even more worrisome for people who have a history of mental health problems.

However, it is important to keep in mind that pandemic-related mental health problems do not only translate into stress or anxiety about the virus itself but also about the post-pandemic future, re-entry into a social “new normal,” as well as unhealthy habits adopted during lockdown (think substance abuse or social anxiety).

Studies also show that mental health problems are even greater among populations of color.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation research, “about four in ten Hispanic adults (43%) say the coronavirus has had a negative impact on their mental health.” In addition, the study found that there is a clear relationship between concern and self-reported mental health impacts – 61 percent of Hispanic adults report that “they are either ‘very worried or ‘somewhat worried’ they or a family member will get sick from coronavirus and that worry or stress has had a negative impact on their mental health.” 

Similarly, a recent public opinion poll from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) shows that concern about COVID-19 remains high even more than a year after the initial lockdown. More people than ever are reporting mental health impacts due to stress and anxiety about the pandemic. The data shows that concern toward family and loved ones catching the virus has increased since last year, and 73 percent of Hispanics/Latinos are more anxious about COVID-19 than 50 percent of whites. 

The fact is that the Latino population has been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, from employment, economic, and health perspective, but also from a mental health perspective. However, the challenge is a lingering stigma, especially in the Latinx community, around talking about mental health and seeking help.

This is why assessment tools, self-help software, expert tips, and accessible treatment are all so important. There is a wide range of online tools and mental health apps for your smartphone that allow users to assess their mental health and learn how to cope with stress and anxiety while accurately monitoring their sleep habits, behavioral traits, personality profiles, and risks of depression or other mental illnesses.

How New Mental Health Apps and Technology Can Help

While mental illness is not a new phenomenon, nor is the stigma surrounding it, technology and apps available to help people are groundbreaking and will surely change lives. 

From assessment apps to virtual therapy to iPhone programs to help keep you grounded and help you cope, there’s something for everyone who struggles and who is looking to take their mental health into their own hands. 

Thanks to handheld devices and wearable trackers that monitor your health and well-being (even while you’re sleeping!), you can keep an eye on your mental health and can manage your risk of depression with a simple click. These new technological advances are helping people who value privacy and need personalized self-care tips to protect their emotional and mental health. Considering how much hardship, isolation, uncertainty, and turmoil people are experiencing during the pandemic, these new mental health apps and tools have never been more essential.

Photo courtesy of LUCA Belatina, latinx
Photo courtesy of LUCA

LUCA

This new mobile app and assessment tool allow users to measure their sleep, activity, and heart rate to better monitor their stress levels through their wearable device, bringing real-time awareness to their mental well-being. 

Unlike other tools, this app allows users to approach their mental wellness with objective measurement and science-based stress assessment. The app uses biometric data to measure stress variables across sleep, activity, and heart rate while also helping people understand their personality traits and how they respond to stress to transform negative stress (distress) into positive stress (eustress). 

The idea is that, by looking at how stress impacts these specific biometrics in your daily life, you’ll have a better understanding of what triggers your stress reactions and what puts you at risk of developing depression or other mental health issues. By looking at their behavioral patterns, users can better identify their stress response and how it impacts them from a health perspective. 

Medibio, the health technology company behind LUCA, is on a mission to use objective measures to aid in the early detection and screening of mental health conditions. This mental health app takes into account emotional intelligence and personality profiles to make predictions about how a person will cope with stress based on scientific information and unique algorithms. 

While many apps address specific areas of mental health, LUCA looks at the whole picture. “First, you have to understand who you are, your personality, and most importantly, how are you going to respond to stress according to who you are?” explains Medibio’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Archie Defillo. 

It’s all about knowledge and taking control of your own health. “I do believe that the more information we give to people about their health, the better the journey,” Dr. Defillo told BeLatina. “For anyone who is facing mental illness, especially those in the Latinx community, there is a big stigma of ‘I may be weak.’ And so the more information that we can give to people about what people are experiencing and that what they are feeling is real, and this is why it is happening, that is contributing to a big step forward for people struggling with mental issues,” Dr. Defillo said. 

LUCA will be available for download in the coming months, so be sure to check back to see when they launch and how to download this groundbreaking application. 

What's Up App BELatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of Google Play.

What’s Up

No, we’re not talking about WhatsApp. We’re talking about a free app that uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Acceptance Commitment Therapy methods to help people cope with depression, anxiety, stress, and more. 

What’s Up offers tangible tips to help you track your habits (good and bad) and learn where you can be more productive at improving your mindset. 

The “Get Grounded” feature asks users several questions to help you pinpoint how you are feeling and put your thoughts into perspective to help you, wait for it, get grounded. There is also functionality to help you get out of your head and eliminate negative internal monologues.

Mood Kit Mental Health App BELatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of https://onemindpsyberguide.org/

Mood Kit

Once you know you are struggling mentally or emotionally and need a mood booster, this mental health app is loaded with over 200 different mood improvement activities, all inspired by Cognitive Behavior Therapy. 

Two clinical psychologists developed this app and all associated activities to change mental patterns and help users develop self-awareness and healthy attitudes. A journal feature encourages users to become more aware of their needs and mood patterns and practice self-care by reflecting on their day and what triggers shifts in their moods and moments of distress.

MoodMission BELatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of MoodMission.

MoodMission

Being aware of depression and anxiety is half the battle, and then knowing how to cope is the other piece of the puzzle. This app is designed to empower users to discover better ways of coping to help them overcome depression. By telling the app how you are feeling at any given moment, you are provided with a tailored list of 5 simple, quick, effective, evidence-based missions to improve your mood. Every mission that you complete earns you rewards, plus you’ll learn how each mission is relevant and helpful in protecting your mental health. 

TalkSpace BELatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of Twitter.

Talkspace Online Therapy 

Sometimes one-on-one therapy is an essential part of the coping process for dealing with mental health issues. But for many people, especially during the pandemic, meeting with a therapist face-to-face is not an option. This is where Talkspace Online Therapy is so valuable. This app allows you to speak with a trained, professional therapist via text, audio, or video, as often as you want to. 

This is a subscription service, and for $65 a month, you will have access to a licensed therapist at your fingertips. The app will pair you with the right therapist based on your needs, preferences, goals, and struggles. And it really works. According to the Journal of Telemedicine e-Health, 80% of respondents found Talkspace as effective or more effective than traditional therapy. And 98% found Talkspace to be more convenient than traditional therapy. 

Furthermore, big things are in the works for Talkspace. This past January 2021, Talkspace announced it was awarded two grants — nearly $4 million from the NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program and a $3 million NIH R01 grant — to explore how mental health can be impacted by telemedicine and teletherapy services. 

“At Talkspace, we are committed to making therapy accessible and affordable to help those in need live a happier and healthier life,” said Neil Leibowitz, Chief Medical Officer at Talkspace. “When we make mental health services easier to access, more people can get preventive support early on so that they can avoid a crisis,” continued Paul Ginofriddo, President and CEO of Mental Health America. “The pandemic has shown us that teletherapy works, and we need to make this the standard, not the exception.” 

Shine Mental Health App BELatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of V Magazine.

Shine

For an app focused on mental health and self-care to be truly effective, many people feel that it needs to be relatable, including your experiences and identity. That’s what the founders of Shine realized — they didn’t see themselves (a Black woman and a half-Japanese woman) and their experiences represented in the mainstream “wellness” industry. So, they created this app, which is on a mission to make caring for your mental and emotional health easier and more diverse. 

“We believe that fighting for the mental health of marginalized groups helps fight for their lives and rights — and it’s one of the most important ways to improve the global landscape of mental health,” the co-founders explain on their website. 

The app offers daily meditations created with representation at the forefront, personalized tools, an interactive journal to track your mood, plus an inclusive online community of members and mental health experts.