Meditation, advice, psychological follow-up… Are mental health apps still popular?

“Little Bamboo for kids is great. At the beginning of May 2020, during a Facebook live in complete seclusion from his home in Cap-Ferret, Guillaume Canet praised the Petit Bambou meditation application to his subscribers. “It allows you to do breathing exercises at night and fall asleep. It’s so cool. “A great pub – not sponsored – for the small group of about twenty people in the north of France.

Like the actor, many Frenchmen have started using meditation, wellness, counseling or psychological follow-up applications during quarantine, whether to find sleep, better understand their emotions, let go of life, the daily hustle and bustle or practice mindfulness.

An explosion of downloads

“We had an explosion in the use of the app during the quarantine,” testifies Vincent Bouton, operational director of Petit Bambou, the first French meditation application. A month after the start of the first confinement, the number of users of the platform has doubled. “The most followed programs were those about sleep, mental health and work. Not surprising since during this period 20.1% of the French reported depressive symptoms and 16.9% reported anxiety symptoms, according to a study by Inser and the University of Bordeaux.

As for the psychological support application Mon Sherpa, the explosion of downloads during this closed time is even more impressive, going from 15,000 before the confinement to 150,000 during. “These figures are a bit distorted because we made our application completely free during the quarantine,” admits Fanny Jacq, psychiatrist at Qare and creator of the application.

In fact, to meet the needs of the French, exercises on confinement have been created for the occasion, such as “how to live with confinement when you are isolated? », « how to deal with his addiction problems? ”, or even “how to manage the anxiety associated with the coronavirus? » Programs that were frequently consulted during this period.

Become aware of your mental state

“People used this moment to refocus on themselves, Vincent Bouton analyses. Solutions had to be found to free themselves from their ruminations and their mental burden. According to Fanny Jacq, there has been an awareness that mental health is just as important as physical health. “We realize that her mental health can be weakened, so we will strengthen her, a bit like we do with sports. »

Does this consciousness resonate today? After the confinement, the Ministry of Health created an application to monitor the evolution of his psychological state. His name: Spiritual Garden. “In short, the application is designed for patients who have psychological monitoring, to help them monitor their symptoms,” explains Antoine de Zélicourt, administrator of the platform. And gradually we got more and more users who had no psychological follow-up. »

For example, half of Jardin Mental users today have no therapeutic follow-up. By recording their emotions, such as their fear, anger or sadness, they can gradually become aware of their mental state. “Making people aware that they suffer from burnout or depression was not our primary goal, but it is a good thing,” the person responsible for the application is delighted.

New followers of meditation

This is shown by a study by MoiJeune van 20 minutes, conducted in partnership with Opinionway and published on February 20, 42% of 18-30 year olds surveyed say they are “taking more quiet time for themselves, not doing anything special” compared to the pre-Covid-19 period. A figure confirmed by those of the different applications. “Three years after the confinement, there has been no major abandonment, testifies the operational director of Petit Bambou. We realize that we have acquired budding meditators before. »

If 150,000 people had downloaded My Sherpa during quarantine, today 300,000 have the logo of the little man with the orange Peruvian cap under their applications. The most used programs are those about anxiety and depression. “If the application does not cure suicidal thoughts, severe depression or delusional schizophrenia, on the other hand, the exercises can help regulate sleep disturbances or try to control the first symptoms of depression or anxiety,” specifies the creator of My Sherpa.

Another novelty in the post-containment world: “People are starting to question themselves about their values,” explains Fanny Jacq. The psychiatrist therefore added a value therapy program to her application. A short program to get to know your life values ​​and whether you live in accordance with them. Another possible realization.

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