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The top apps for your mental well-being

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Published Apr 29, 2022


By James Browning

Johannesburg – Mental health apps have boomed in popularity over the last couple of years as the world adapts around a pandemic and global conflict.

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Below are three top picks for staying on top of your mental game, especially as load shedding continues to mandate two hours of sporadically scheduled internet-free mindfulness.


Reverie is a self-hypnosis app founded by David Spiegel, one of the leading researchers on clinical hypnosis and a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University. The Reverie App provides access to self-hypnosis audio sessions.

As Spiegel explains (in his characteristically deep voice that you’ll find on many of the hypnosis sessions in the app), clinical hypnosis is nothing like the idea people generally have of stage hypnosis. The image of stage hypnosis is some kind of magician influencing people to do things they otherwise would not.

Alternatively, self-hypnosis is not a state of reduced control, but rather one of heightened focus and increased control. The aim of self-hypnosis is to take more control of one’s mind and body through short sessions of focused and directed attention. The audio sessions typically involve instructions about breathing and visualising one’s ideas and problems.

While hypnosis has a bad reputation in the cultural imagination, the research behind self-hypnosis points to significant positive outcomes. Considering the robust, high quality of the research, especially over the past 10 years, clinical hypnosis has been evidenced to have truly impressive abilities for anxiety reduction, improved focus, and reduced chronic pain.

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Reverie is a fantastic option for anyone looking for a free, science-backed tool to help take more control over their lives – whether that’s breaking thought patterns, needing less pain medication, or building new habits.


Headspace uses mindfulness and meditation to help reduce stress and promote restful sleep. The service aims itself at those looking to reduce daily stress through mindfulness practices and meditation guides for things like work, creativity and focus. Headspace has been one of the more popular mindfulness apps of the past couple years.

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While it is a paid service, Headspace offers free one- or two-week trials which is important when it comes to services like these. Mental wellness can be very personal and specific; you shouldn’t be paying for anything until you’re sure it works for you.


South African start-up Panda, founded by the former director of Uber in sub-Saharan Africa, looks to make mental health resources more accessible. The Panda App provides access to a library of mental health resources in the form of articles and videos as well as tracked well-being assessments. The app’s defining feature is the ‘Bamboo Forest’ – scheduled, live, audio-only discussion sessions where people can speak to experts and peers about shared struggles.

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While Panda has plans to expand into a paid service, the company has committed to keeping the assessment tools and Bamboo Forest feature free. The app does not offer anything groundbreaking, but the opportunity to speak to other South Africans and share one’s burden can be deeply impactful. Both giving and receiving support can be powerful tools in promoting wellness.

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