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LA County Still Gets The Headspace Mindfulness App For Free — Plus, More Mental Health Help

An illustration of three yellow-orange palm trees against a blue sky, the middle one personified with a peaceful face, eyes closed.
A screenshot from the Headspace signup page for L.A. County residents.
(Via Headspace)
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Update: L.A. County no longer partnering with Headspace
  • Headspace is no longer free to Los Angeles County residents due to the county's contract with the service ending, according to L.A. County Mental Health. While the service is still linked to from the department's website and a landing page still exists on the Headspace site for people to sign up, the county has been trying to get Headspace to take that page down.

Our minds have been on our minds a lot lately — specifically, mental health. Here’s everything you need to know about how popular meditation apps are addressing the pandemic, including how Los Angeles County is continuing to offer one of the biggest ones for free.

We’ve also got info on deals for the most popular apps, links to other apps (including some free ones), and more.

You can find more free mental health resources from Los Angeles County here. (May also happens to be National Mental Health Month, with the L.A. County Department of Mental Health providing free events both online and in person.)

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Early in the pandemic, L.A. County’s Mental Health Department made a deal with popular meditation app Headspace to provide its Headspace Plus premium service to L.A. County residents for free. That deal was set to expire at the end of last year — but then again, most of us didn’t think the pandemic was going to last this long.

But that means those Headspace subscriptions are still available. We’re unclear on when exactly that will last until. But the service itself is currently being discounted by 30% for everyone, even if you’re not in L.A. County. Headspace is also offering a selection of sample meditations, sleep experiences, and guided walks meant to help people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Plus, certain health plans and employers provide a subscription for free — this includes Kaiser Health, as well as free subscriptions for L.A. County employees.

The app’s offerings include a wide variety of meditations, including ones designed to help you sleep, meditations specifically targeted toward certain mental health issues, music to help you focus, and even mindful workouts. Headspace was declared the best meditation app by the New York Times' popular Wirecutter site.


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Calm has some free content meant to support your mental and emotional wellness during the pandemic, available here. While not quite as well-reviewed as Headspace, Calm was listed as an “also great” meditation app by Wirecutter. Wirecutter noted that Calm’s meditations are more open-ended, which could be good for experienced meditators, but may mean less guidance for newbies.

Calm doesn’t have as many readily available discounts, but beyond the free trial, you still have some options. First off, you can get 25% off at this link. You may also be able to get a discount from your work — a number of companies offer this as a perk for their workers. Or you can bug your boss to sign up to get your workplace covered (at a discount) here.

You can also see other potential discounts at the RetailMeNot website. It’s available for free to Kaiser Health members — check with your own health provider about mental health and meditation resources. (American Express cardholders could get a free year with Calm, followed by a year at half-off — but that deal expired at the end of 2020.)

More App Options

Beyond these popular meditation apps, some others that have received positive reviews include:

  • UCLA Meditation: UCLA has its own free meditation app, though the school also offers mindfulness classes that you can pay for to explore the practice in more depth.
  • Insight Timer: This app includes some of the most free content available in a meditation app, while also having higher-level courses available with a paid subscription.
  • Ten Percent Happier: This app puts great emphasis on classes from meditation teachers, beyond just the meditations themselves, so you can understand a bit more of the philosophy behind those meditations. They also offer the option to connect with your own meditation coach.
  • Buddhify: This service emphasizes their mobile/on-the-go meditations, with less of an ask for your time than many other apps. They also have a low one-off fee to get started, along with an extra premium subscription option that runs less than their more well-known competition — $30 a year, versus the list prices of around $70 for Headspace and Calm.
  • The Breathing App: This is a free app, available for both Apple and Android devices. It’s simple — but, well, it’s free.
  • Your smartwatch: A number of smartwatches have simple mindfulness apps built into them, such as the Apple Watch’s Breathe feature or Relax on Fitbit. They might not be as fancy as other apps, but they’re with you all the time — and might be a chance to jump in a little more quickly, as well as enjoying mindfulness on the go.
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How are you protecting your own mental health this year? Let us know.