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NIRSA Assembly’s Guide to Health & Wellbeing Resources

Technology

Last Updated: July 6, 2018

Today’s technology changes quickly and the health and wellbeing industry is no different. New programs and apps are constantly being developed and digital tools have become a large part of students’ daily lives.

Health and wellbeing apps often focus on the physical, mental, social, or emotional wellbeing of the individuals, or groups (often teams) who use them. In 2015, NIRSA published the white paper “How Technology Is Being Used to Foster Student Wellbeing & Enhance the Value of Collegiate Recreation” exploring the topic. Below is a list of more recent health and wellbeing related articles, organized by some of the technology trends happening on campuses today.

Public apps and programs

  • Student Health 101. A web and app-based health and wellness magazine for students, featuring short articles covering a variety of college health issues including: stress, sleep, nutrition, alcohol, sexual health, colds, flu, and more.
  • Virgin Pulse. Technology designed to cultivate good lifestyle habits for employees and students. Includes: an online health assessment which helps employees identify health risks and provides disease management programs and resource to help improve their health; team-based challenges focused on increasing physical activity and social connections across users; a communication and engagement portal that connects users to programs, benefits, tools and information.
  • Health Solutions – Fitbit. A technology solution geared towards employees, health plans, health systems, or researchers that leverages the FitBit platform. May include physical activity challenges, sleep tracking, diabetes and hypertension condition management- the FitBit Health Platform enables continuous monitoring and insights to drive health improvements.
  • WellRight. An employee-focused program focusing on improving overall wellbeing. Program includes: a health risk assessment, group challenges, personal challenges, life coaching, claims data analysis, biometrics, reporting, and rewards program. Focuses on multiple dimensions: physical, occupational, social, financial, emotional, and purpose.
  • MINDBODY. An app that can connect the user to various health and wellness services and classes in their area.

Featured Apps

The following apps were identified by various universities to assist students with improving their health and wellbeing.  This is not an exhaustive list of health related apps.  Users should also be reminded that self-help materials may not be effective in addressing more complex issues.

Motivation/Productivity

  • Any.do by Any.do, Inc. This is a multi-purpose app which allows users to create to-do lists, plan their calendar, and use the Any.do Assistant to get things done.  Is able to sync across multiple devices.
  • Concentrate (Vitamin C) for Chrome.  Allows you to block sites that distract you for a certain period of time, when you try to be productive.
  • FocalFilter for Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari. Like Concentrate, allows you to block distracting websites in all browsers.
  • LeechBlock for Firefox. Allows you to block certain websites from Firefox.
  • SelfControl for Apple OS X. A free Mac application that helps you avoid distracting websites.
  • Task Guru by Dextronet. A simple, handy to –do list that helps you organize your workload in a more effective way, increasing your productivity without too much stress.
  • 30/30 – This goal of this app is to improve time management and enhance performance through decreasing multitasking.  It helps users to set up tasks lists, with specific times designated for each task.
  • Wunderlist – The ultimate to-do list, Wunderlist allows users to share lists, to sync lists with all devices, to add notes, to set due dates, to turn emails into actions, and more.
  • Brainscape – This app is designed for finding, creating, and sharing effective, high-quality flashcards.

Meditation/Mindfulness/Relaxation

  • Gratitude Garden by Izzy McRae. An app intended to help you maintain the gratitude practice of noting down three good things that have happened over the past 24 hours.
  • Calm – Meditate, Sleep, Relax by Calm.com, Inc. An app for mindfulness and meditation to bring more clarity, job and peace to your daily life.
  • Colorfy by TGF Co. A coloring book for adults to de-stress and relax.
  • Guided Mind by AppSimple. Access to over 200+ guided meditations.
  • Headspace by Headspace. Meditation made relevant to modern life. Get unique daily guided meditations, science facts and figures and progress reports, all designed to make it as easy as possible for you to get some calm and clarity.
  • Lotus Bud Mindfulness Bell by Chad Sager. Based on a practice in Buddhist monasteries, Mindfulness Bells are a powerful practice to remind you of your intention to me mindful, with gentle reminders throughout the day.
  • Pacifica for Stress and Anxiety by Pacifica Labs, Inc. Daily tools for stress, anxiety and depression alongside a supportive community.  Based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Mindfulness Meditation.
  • Nature Sounds Relax and Sleep This app lets you choose from a list of 6 different good quality nature relaxing sounds (sounds of nature) which include thunder, ocean sounds, sea, birds sounds, rain, night in jungle, water sounds, waterfall, nature and start your personal audio therapy.
  • Breathe2Relax A portable stress management tool which provides detailed information on the effects of stress on the body and instructions and practice exercise to help users learn the stress management skill of diaphragmatic breathing.
  • Relax Melodies: Sleep and Yoga Select sounds and melodies that you like and combine them to create a mix with this app. Also available for Android.
  • Mindfulness Coach – Offers exercises for practicing and increasing mindfulness, an awareness of the present moment which has been shown to decrease stress.

Sleep

  • CBT-i Coach by VA’s National Center for PTSD, Stanford School of Medicine, and DoD’s National Center for Telehealth & Technology. – This app is great for users working with a therapist on insomnia issues, but it can be used by anyone who is looking to improve sleep habits.  It includes a sleep diary, reminders, and specific “tools” for improving sleep.
  • Relax & Sleep Well by i-mobilize, Inc. A hypnosis and meditation app.
  • Sleep as Android by Urbandroid. Smart alarm clock with sleep cycle tracking, wakes you gently in optimal moment for pleasant mornings.
  • Sleep Pillow Sounds: white noise machine app by Clear Sky Apps, Ltd.  A variety of white noise options to help you sleep.
  • Sleep Stream 2 by Explosive Apps. Soothing sounds from nature, gentle audio, and music to help you sleep, relax, meditation, focus, re-energize, and lift your mood.
  • Aura – Offers 3-minute “micro” meditations, a gratitude journal, mood tracking, 30-second “mindful breathers,” and more.
  • Insight Timer – Versatile free app that offers timed meditations of any length or a selection of thousands of guided meditations with various themes.
  • Moving Forward – This app assists with managing stress by teaching problem-solving.  It is especially helpful for maintaining a work-life balance.
  • Stop, Breathe & Think – This app recommends meditations for you based on how you are currently feeling, both physically and mentally.
  • Smiling Mind – This meditation app is specifically designed for young people.  It includes programs for individuals, education, and sports.

Mental Health/Mood

  • Happify: for Stress and Worry Happify works to bring you effective tools and program to help you take control of your feelings and thoughts.
  • MoodPanda by Jake Greenwood. Track your mood and get anonymous support.
  • Moody Me by MedHelp. A free mood diary app to track your mood to find out what make you feel good.  Keep track of your mood, not what affects it and record any treatment’s you’re taking.
  • Thought Box by Gerard Hartnett. An app designed to help you focus on the present.

Anxiety

  • Tactical Breather Can be used to gain control over physiological and psychological responses to stress. Through repetitive practice and training, you can learn to gain control of your heart rate, emotions, concentration, and other physiological and psychological responses to your body during stressful situations. Also available for Android.
  • Mindshift Designed to provide you with tools for managing various types of anxiety, including test anxiety, perfectionism, social anxiety, performance anxiety, worry, panic, and conflict. Also available for Android.
  • SAM (Self-Help for Anxiety Management) Offers options for tracking anxiety, identifying anxiety triggers, teaching breathing and relaxation strategies, and developing an anxiety management toolkit. Also available for Android.
  • Stop Panic and Anxiety Stop Panic and Anxiety is a free app that offers self-help methods to control panic and anxiety. The info in this app assumes that you are suffering from panic attacks due to Panic Disorder. It may not be applicable to other forms of anxiety. It focuses on the fear of having a panic attack and the fear of the sensations when having a panic.
  • Seven Cups Connects you one-on-one to a listener or online therapist anonymously, has daily goals for your personal pathway

Depression

  • Depression CBT Self-Help Guide This app contains a depression severity test, audios, articles, a cognitive diary, and a motivational points system that help you learn.
  • Cognitive Diary CBT The self-help methods used in this app are based on the tools of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and challenge irrational thinking.

Personal Safety

  • bSafeby Bipper, Inc. A safety app for you and your friends and family.  Create your own security network and let each other know if you need help.
  • Companionby Companion LLC. The on-call mobile security app that always has your back.
  • CircleOf6by The Line Campaign, Inc. Users are able to add up to 6 people from their contacts to send a notification or call to notify them if they need help getting home or out of a harmful situation.
  • Kitestringby Kitestring. An all that checks up on you when you’re out and alerts your friends if you don’t respond.

Suicide Prevention

  • A Friend Asks– This app offers tips for getting help for a friend (or yourself).  Helpful information includes what to do RIGHT NOW as well as what NOT to do.
  • ReliefLink– This award-winning suicide prevention app assists users with tracking daily mood/thoughts, creating a safety plan, locating the nearest hospitals, and obtaining quick-access to coping methods.
  • Virtual Hope Box This app helps with coping relaxation, distraction from overwhelming emotion, and positive thinking. You can personalize the content on the app to meet your specific needs. Also available for Android.

Eating Disorders

Alcohol & Other Drug Use

  • Saying When– This app is a self-help program for taking charge of your drinking, either cutting back or quitting altogether.  It helps users monitor when and how much they are drinking, including tracking alcohol consumption and estimating BAC levels over time.
  • com– This is a simple tool for monitoring your BAC levels.
  • Addicaid/OneHealth Meeting FinderA free app that helps you find nearby AA, NA, pills anonymous, etc., meetings in your area. Allows for mobile check-in to track recovery and rate meetings.
  • Sobriety CounterA free consumption tracker with sponsor support and virtual tokens.
  • ImQuit A free sobriety tracking app with inspirational quotes.
  • I am SoberA sobriety tracker app; includes daily logs and inspirational messages.
  • 12 Steps AA Companion“Big book” included along with a sobriety calculator and AA contacts/resources.
  • HappifyA free app that uses positive psychology to reduce stress, overcome negative thoughts and reach personal goals.
  • Anonymous Sober Chat for Alcoholics and Addicts A free sober chat app used by 20,000 recovering individuals. Not affiliated with AA.

Tobacco

  • LIVESTRONG MyQuit Coach The LIVESTRONG.COM MyQuit Coach application creates a personalized plan to help you quit smoking. Through a physician approved, interactive and easy to use app, you’ll evaluate your current status, set attainable goals and adjust preferences according to your needs. You’ll finally be able to stop smoking.
  • Quit Smoking: Cessation Nation See how long it’s been since you stopped smoking, the amount of money you’ve saved, cigarettes not smoked and health improvements. Play a fun distracting game while you forget about your cravings.
  • quitSTART quitSTART App is a FREE app made for people who want to quit smoking. This app takes the information you provide about your smoking history and gives you tailored tips, inspiration and challenges to help you become smoke free and live a healthier life.

Social Media Resources

Recommended Reading

  • The Future of Well-Being in a Tech-Saturated World by Janna Anderson and Lee Rainie. Pew Research Center. April 17, 2018.
  • 10 Things Your Workplace Health and Wellness Software Should Do by Steve Aldana. Well Steps.  January 10, 2018.
  • Wellbeing Technology in the Workplace: Trending Now and in Future by Stephen Haynes. Personnel Today. January 4, 2018.
  • How College Students Choose Mobile Health/Wellness Applications? By Wonchan Choi and Besili Stvilia. Association for Information Science and Technology.  November 2014.

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