The app all parents need to download for their teenagers.

Video by Mamamia Women's Network.

 

From disclosing what’s going on to those around you to figuring out what helps, learning to manage a mental health condition is an arduous and exhausting experience.

Not only has an incredibly hard journey of self-learning been forced upon you, but there’s also other landmarks to navigate like developing a language to explain what you’re feeling. And then telling those around you what’s going on. And figuring out how to manage your school or workload during particularly difficult periods. And how to ask for help when you need it. And when to go on medication. Or go off medication. Or alter the dose of your medication. Or take up cognitive behavioural therapy. Or seek out the help of a therapist.

If you’re also a teenager, it’s unquestionably even more difficult.

anxietyhelper
Source: iStock.

But it's exactly these problems that 15-year-old Amanda Southworth wanted to solve when she launched AnxietyHelper, her first ever app, earlier this year.

"Basically it's just to make your life easier because dealing with mental illness as it is, sucks," Southworth told Medium earlier this month.

"This app is kind of reaching out and saying 'hey, I'm sorry you're in this predicament but I want to help make this better.'"

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Within the app itself, which is currently free to download, Southworth explains AnxietyHelper is "not your therapist" and can't  exactly offer the same comfort as crying into a friend's shoulder or talking to someone about what's going on can, but instead, it acts as a toolkit that helps people not only understand the battle but also arm themselves for it.

Listen: Madonna King talks about the anxieties that plague teenagers. Post continues... 

Within the anxiety portion of the app, there are sections on causes, signs, treatments, useful activities, advice on how to tell others and handle things in public, day-to-day management. Similarly, for depression, subjects like signs, self-harm, motivation, treatments and easing the discomfort are all addressed.

There are sections on recovery, aftercare from panic attacks, resources, tools and supportive pep talks from Southworth littered throughout each and every section.

"Congratulations! You told someone," a note in the panic attacks section of the app begins.

"That's a big accomplishment. The best thing to do in the case of an event is to be prepared for it, and you just did that."

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Screenshots from within the app. Source: AnxietyHelper.

As someone who has experience anxiety on a daily basis for the past 10 years, opening this app filled me with so many emotions.

I thought about what a tool like this could have offered me if it had only been around 10 years ago when I was first diagnosed with a generalised anxiety disorder. Of the support and education it could have offered my boyfriend when I was having panic attack after panic attack for months on end. How it would have helped me better understand the multiple eating disorders I've battled through.

What it could have taught me about my friend's depression. What I could have said to help someone else in need. What it already is and will continue to offer teenagers staring down the barrel of a precarious and complicated experience.

best mental health apps
Screenshots from within the app. Source: AnxietyHelper.

Mostly, though, I thought about parents grabbing their children's phones and downloading the apps for them. About what having something like this in a teenager's pocket could offer so many.

In Australia alone, BeyondBlue estimate one in 14 young Australians will experience anxiety and that one in 20 will experience some form of a depressive disorder. For three out of four Australian adults, mental health conditions will emerge by the age of 24, and tragically, suicide is still the biggest killer of young Australians.

Buried among the many sections of the app is a note to users penned by Southworth, and it's as upfront as it is uplifting.

"The truth is, this app isn't going to magically cure you of your anxiety, panic attacks or depression. It's not going to make you magically recover and make everything in life right again," it reads.

"It's just going to give you the resources to do that."

And really, that's all and exactly anybody - particularly teenagers - needs.

AnxietyHelper is available for download via the iTunes App store. If you or anyone you know is experiencing anxiety or depression and in need of help, contact BeyondBlue on 1300 22 4636. 

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