I have another mental health ap to share with all of you! Virtual Hope Box was recommended to me by several of my Twitter followers who have used it and found it helpful, and it was developed by the Department of Defense. It’s free to download in the Apple Store and Google Play.
Many therapists use the concept of a “hope box” with clients, or a toolbox of coping skills. Basically, you keep track of things that bring your mood up, inspire you, or hold sentimental value to you when you are in a positive headspace, and you can revisit these things easily when you are having a hard time. The goal is to make it easy to access these things during a crisis, or even just a hard day.
The ap requires a passcode to protect your privacy and prevent anyone else from modifying the items in your Hope Box without your permission. I like this feature, as it prevents abusers from deliberately adding things that are triggering, and you can still allow a loved one to add something about how they care about you if you want.
When you need to use your Hope Box, sign in. In the upper right corner, there is a phone icon, which will prompt you to reach out to contacts you pre-selected as “Support Contacts,” or people you trust to support you during this time. The Virtual Hope Box icon brings you to “Visual Reminders,” or images of people, memories, places, et cetera that are significant to you.
You can choose to distract yourself with a Sudoku puzzle, photo puzzle, word search, or Mahjong game. The “Inspire Me” tab shows you a list of inspirational quotes. Under “Relax Me,” there are options for breathing exercises, muscle relaxation, and three guided meditations. I love the gentle visuals and the level of control it gives the user to tailor their experience to their unique needs.
Finally, the ap allows you to create coping cards based on specific triggers or emotions that tend to come up for you. You can create these cards when you are having a good day so that they are readily available, and you can prompt yourself to cope in a healthy way before the crisis occurs. You can also set reminders for yourself to practice these skills or use the coping cards on days that you know are likely to be challenging.
When I started my current job, my employer had me take a skills test, which identified one of my strengths as collecting things that are useful. (You may have guessed that from my blog, which consists of several lists of useful things!) This ap prompts you to collect things that help you, so of course I love it. A box of coping skills that you keep in your pocket, ready to go? What could be better?