Anyone who works, lives, or attends school in Berkeley can access these free mental health resources
Anyone at least 13 years old who lives, works, or attends school in Berkeley can now use one of two apps for free: one helps navigate issues ranging from depression and substance abuse, while the other provides more general support around mindfulness and meditation.
These two widely used apps can help develop daily practices and habits that have the potential to provide a space of solace, address a longstanding struggle, or simply lower stress.
No one tool can address all of a person's individual needs. But the goal is that these two differing apps - myStrength and HeadSpace - can provide stepping stones on a path toward greater emotional well-being.
"The pandemic has strained mental health for many of us," said Steve Grolnic-McClurg, manager of Berkeley's Mental Health Division. "We hope that by making these apps free to almost everyone in our community, more people have access to tools that can help them prioritize and care for their mental health."
The state provides almost all of the funding for Berkeley Mental Health with a mandate to help those with the most serious needs in our community. The division - one of only two operating at the City level in California - joined this state-funded, multi-county initiative to serve a much larger population and help address mental health issues that are even more pronounced during the pandemic.
Sign up for one or both apps. And spread the word - we never know who may be struggling and could use some support.
Headspace app: Access meditation, sleep and movement exercises
The Headspace app is a popular online meditation and mindfulness resource. The app's library of exercises can help manage anxiety, encourage stress relief, increase focus, enhance sleep and improve mood.
Additional features include meditation reminders, tracking your practice statistics, and inviting a buddy to join and meditate together. Meditations for children are also available, though only those at least 13-years-old can sign up.
myStrength app: Access proven mental health interventions
The MyStrength app provides personalized and interactive activities that address depression, anxiety, stress, substance use, chronic pain and sleep challenges. The individually tailored program is designed to empower users and also supports the physical and spiritual aspects of whole-person health.
The myStrength experience is based on clinical models like cognitive behavioral therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, positive psychology, mindfulness, and motivational interviewing - proven interventions that have helped millions improve and sustain health and wellbeing.
Sign up for one or both apps
For either app, you must be at least 13-years-old. Start by visiting the Help@Hand website
- For myStrength subscription (active until Oct. 31, 2022)
- Scroll down and select the myStrength button
- Complete the myStrength sign-up process, use access code: cityofberkeley and set up your profile.
- For Headspace subscription (active until Sept. 30, 2023)
- Scroll down and select Headspace button
- Complete the Headspace sign-up process, enter "Berkeley" and your zip code where you work, live or go to school, and set up your profile.
Improving mental health in Berkeley
Help@Hand, a multi-County collaborative, originated the project. The total cost for this state-funded project is $462,916, which covers the development, coordination, app licensing for, and evaluation of the project.
Having our own Mental Health Division gives the City of Berkeley the freedom to tailor services closer to our community's needs. Berkeley's mental health has a significant focus on increasing access to mental health services, offering walk-in hours, operating a daytime mental health crisis line, and, for several decades, having a mobile crisis team to help people suffering from mental health crises. Many of the programs are primarily aimed at individuals with serious mental illness and major impairments and who have Medi-Cal or no insurance.
The COVID-19 epidemic has increased isolation and limited access to mental health services for many Berkeley residents. The partnership with myStrength and Headspace is an exciting expansion of benefits available to the community. This platform, open to all Berkeley community members, builds upon our existing effort to provide access to mental health information and resources.
Improving your mental health will make you, the people you care about, and our community stronger. Sign up and spread the word about these free online mental health resources.
"Downloading the apps is just the start," said Grolnic-McClurg, the Berkeley's Mental Health division manager. "We hope people will use these apps to develop sustainable habits and practices to nurture and protect their emotional health."