These Apps Can Help You Fight the Urge to Self Harm

According to WHO, 44% of Pakistan’s population faces chronic depression. The figure includes both teenagers and adults.

When unable to deal with negative emotions, people frequently resort to self harm. A solution to this is therapy, but the practise is unaffordable for most people. Often times, they may not realize they’re suffering from depression in the first place. Fortunately, an alternative exists in smartphones.

Self help apps are based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Most of them are structured around dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) which helps develop skills against negative emotions. The main focus of these apps is to provide distractions against harmful urges.

They act as instant relief against self harm ideas and prevent reckless actions. 

Here’s a list of apps that helps you avoid self harm. Note that not all of these are available for Android.

What’s Up (iOS and Android)

This is one of the top ten free Lifestyle Applications. It contains a variety of options for mental health crisis.

The app has a modern design and lets you pick your own themes. It also provides links to forums where you can reach out to a community of people.

  • “Get Grounded”: This feature helps you keep calm when you feel overwhelmed. It contains over a hundred questions for distraction such as “name five countries” or “what is the capital of France?”
  • “Thinking Patterns”: You can understand the structure of your mind. It contains a variety of different practises such as “mind reading” and asks you questions about them.
  • “Catastrophe Scale”: Measure the level of your self-harm urge on a scale of one to ten. The app will give you relief accordingly.
  • “Personal Diary”: Making notes helps track your mood and feelings.
  • “Uplifting Quotes”: Motivational quotes help you feel better when you feel anxious or upset.
  • “Habit Tracker”: Record both good and bad habits.
Self Heal (iOS and Android)

Self Heal was developed by a group of Oxford students in an IT Innovations project. It contains three options:

  • “Do something now”: This gives you impulsive and comical tasks such as “write on yourself with a red marker” to distract yourself for the moment.
  • “Long term planning”: With the help of this, you can daydream about future goals. It will help you stay motivated and stop you from reckless actions.
  • “Call a friend”: This lets you immediately call someone from your friends or family who will be a source of comfort to you.
  • “Library of photos”: The app has a collection of more than 750 cute, funny and motivational photos to distract and provide hope against negative thoughts.

The app also gives advice against self-harm to help you overcome the urge for it for long term.

My Shiny Thing (iOS)

This one is a distraction app, it works in a very simple way.

First the app asks you to rate on a scale of 1 to 5 how much you want to hurt yourself. It then gives you relief based on the severity of your urge. This includes cute and comical YouTube videos and photos.

The app records your urges and their severity, which is useful information that can motivate you to get better.

Moods (iOS)

This app is not developed to help against self harm per se, but is useful for mental health. It is a mood tracker that lets you record your daily moods with the help of a reminder.

You can rate your mood as “good”, “okay” or “bad”. You can also add tags such as “overjoyed”, “frustrated” and “lethargic” and even add notes.

This information lets you figure out which moods you feel most often, helping you ascertain why you feel that way.

Calm Harm (iOS and Android)

This is the most popular app against self harm. It was developed by Dr Nihara Krause, a consultant clinical psychologist for Stem4. The organization is a charity for teenage mental health and developed the most comprehensive application on the subject.

Negative feelings are like a wave. They appear and rise, but will eventually pass. Calm Harm is based on helping users across this wave.

It contains six categories to help combat negative feelings. Users simply have to choose time periods for sessions: five or fifteen minutes.

  • “Distract”: This feature helps users combat the urge to harm themselves. It teaches self control with fun activities like “roll a dice” or “name five pop singers”.
  • “Comfort”: The idea is to care rather than hurt. It lets you choose activities like “rub on some hand-cream” or “eat something you like slowly so that you enjoy it”.
  • “Express”: It helps users express negative feelings in a different way like “make a positive thoughts diary” or “create a thought box”.
  • “Relief”: This provides a safe alternative to injury such as “Stick some fake tattoos where you hurt yourself. Remind yourself to do one comforting thing every time you see them.”
  • “Breathe”: The breathe feature is based on breathing exercises to help calm down the mind.
  • “Random”: This feature is for when users get so upset, they’re unsure of what feature to choose.

Calm Harm is fully customizable and password protected. It lets you choose a Mascot to cheer you, and even lets you create your own tasks.

You can opt for any of these applications, not only for urges against self harm but everyday stress as well.


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