Lonely? Need to talk? Chat confidentially with these apps for free

Lonely? Need to talk? Chat confidentially with these apps for free



The premise is intriguing. We all need to talk sometimes, but you might not always be comfortable opening up to a friend or loved one about certain topics. And professional therapy might not be an option right now. So why not chat with a stranger, who can lend a sympathetic ear and help you talk things through? Recently, I told you about HearMe, a free app that matches up folks who need to talk with empathic “listeners.” More recently, I’ve run across another app called Lyf that seems helpful as well.

HearMe is an app for iOS and Android that lets you talk 1:1 with a stranger. You’re not really talking — this is a texting experience, which might actually make it a bit easier to open up to a stranger. At least that was my experience. I tried out HearMe this week and decided to use it to talk through a personal issue that has been weighing on me. Getting started with the app, which you can install on your iPhone or Android device, is easy, and you don’t need to provide any personal information, so there’s very little for the developers to mine, if your privacy is important to you. You can specify your listener preferences, — like male, female, non-binary — listener’s age range and can say upfront what your topic is or simply start chatting.

Once in a chat, the app behaves like any texting app, with the exception that you’re thrust into a potentially weird situation in which you’re there to chat with a stranger for no reason other than to chat. It’s not a dating app; it’s not an online forum; it’s not someone you know. It’s just someone who’s volunteering their time to talk to you, and you’ll never interact with them again. After your session is over, your chats are saved in a “journal,” which you can refer back to and re-read at any time.

Your other option is an app called Lyf which has a similar philosophy, but rather than 1:1 interactions, Lyf is an online community — a virtual support group. The app is free and lets you create your own discussion groups — called Beats — and you can control the membership and privacy settings. You can also browse other Beats and join in, sharing thoughts and commiserating as appropriate. A lot of Beats on the app right now are related to COVID-19, but there are a number of important conversations in the app, including dealing with autism, depression, illness, body dysmorphia and more. 

For those struggling with COVID-19 related anxiety and depression, or needing questions answered, Lyf has a team of licensed psychologists on the platform 24/7 to answer questions and provide feedback for free.

In this age of self-quarantine and pervasive illness, having resources like HearMe and Lyf may be a godsend. (So is meditation — right now you can get a year of free meditation sessions from Balance.) Honestly, I found both apps to be a little ray of sunshine in a day that otherwise can sometimes feel pretty dreary.   

This article was previously published. It was updated to include Lyf. 

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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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