Review by Ericka D, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2019
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Calm Harm - Manages Self Harm

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Immediate help for teens struggling with harmful urges

Subjects & skills
Subjects
  • Health & Wellness

Skills
  • Character & SEL
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
8–12
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Pros: Helpful distraction activities with self-monitoring assist in replacing self-injurious behavior.

Cons: Some of the tasks aren't built into the app and can take extra effort.

Bottom Line: Powerful therapeutic tool teaches positive coping skills and mental wellness.

While any apps designed to support mental health are best used in the presence and guidance of a professional, mentors, homeroom teachers, health teachers, school counselors, and school psychologists could use Calm Harm - Manages Self Harm to supplement their work with teens. Consider walking students through the app during a health class demo to show the integration of technology with mental wellness. Post a QR code of the link to the app store on a mental health awareness bulletin board. Or use Calm Harm as a check-in for students who meet regularly with a counselor regarding self-harm practices. 

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Calm Harm - Manages Self Harm begins by asking teens to create a profile and set their location. Once they're ready to begin, they can select "Ride the Wave" and choose an area to focus on: Comfort, Distract, Express Yourself, Release, Random, or Breathe. Each of the six areas has different activities to help students manage the discomfort and urge to self-harm. Once they choose an area, kids can pick five- or 15-minute activities. Students tap Start to begin the countdown; after finishing the activity, they'll complete a post-activity self-monitoring sheet. This will log in to a weekly diary that shows patterns. The data log shows the feeling that occurs most before each urge and also what time of day most urges occur. Students can also send activity ideas by clicking "Suggest an Activity." 

Calm Harm - Manages Self Harm is useful for teens who are looking for ways to cope with the discomfort of self-harm. It's probably best used as a therapeutic tool as opposed to a teaching tool, as most mental health tools pair best with professional guidance. Calm Harm recognizes this and provides resources and phone numbers for national phone lines after each activity. It also recommends reaching out to a professional if the urge becomes too strong for too long.

Teens might not enjoy the fact that Calm Harm requires some out-of-app effort (e.g., "write down a list of ... ") and may prefer a more instantaneous game format for some of the distraction or expressive activities. But, if teens don't love the characters, they can choose different mascots or remove the characters completely. Overall, Calm Harm has numerous ideas for distraction -- as well as for releasing and expressing emotions with more appropriate coping skills -- to make it a useful mental health tool in schools.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Calm Harm manages to give kids lots to do while being visually uncluttered. Teens will enjoy the simplistic nature and can change the characters to fit their taste.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Whether it's for comfort, release, or distraction, the depth of the activities makes this app stand out. Some activities require effort outside the app, but it can help generalize the skills.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

While the app itself doesn't readily adapt to students as their emotions and actions change, it does display data in a helpful way. A quick onboarding tutorial walks kids through the setup.


Common Sense Reviewer
Ericka D Counselor, psychologist, or social worker

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