These Are The Best Mental Health Apps For On-The-Go Self-Care

Discover the best mental health apps for managing stress, anxiety, and sleepless nights.

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In recent years, there have been moves to make mental health care less taboo—and yet, far too many of us still leave our mental well-being on the back burner because of work, lack of time, budget constraints, or other constraints. The good news is: Mental health apps make it easier for each of us to prioritize our well-being and self-care because they’re just so convenient. After all, most of us rarely go anywhere without our phones—which means those apps are always with us. 

So whether you want to practice guided meditation, get some help destressing before bed, or chat with a therapist, a mental health app might be able to help. Our team evaluated over 46 mental health apps via first-hand testing, surveying users, and interviewing experts in this industry. Here are the ones we recommend. 

Best Mental Health Apps of 2023

When choosing an online therapy provider, we recommend that you read the company’s privacy guidelines before you sign up to better understand whether it is HIPAA-compliant and whether it shares any private information with third parties. There have been some concerns raised by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and several government officials about what user health information online therapy providers collect and what they do with any information they collect.

These Are The Best Mental Health Apps For On-The-Go Self-Care
These Are The Best Mental Health Apps For On-The-Go Self-Care

Best for Therapy : Talkspace

Key Specs
  • Cost: Packages start at $69 per week
  • Platforms Available: iOS or Android, and computer
  • Free Trial: Currently not offered
Why We Chose It 

Talkspace provides a flexible way to connect with a network of licensed therapists. Thousands of experienced providers are available 24/7, offering convenience from anywhere you have an internet connection.

Pros & Cons
  • Offers therapy for individuals, couples, and teens

  • Psychiatric evaluations and medication management is offered

  • Easy access and flexibility in session location and timing of your session

  • Finding pricing structure on the website is difficult

  • Therapists are matched not chosen

Plans & Pricing

Packages start at $69 a week and may vary depending on the number of sessions and the number of access points to treatment. Talkspace is in-network with many major medical plans.

Talkspace currently offers three therapy plans for individual and teen therapy:

  • The Messaging Therapy plan includes unlimited messaging with guaranteed therapist responses five days a week and starts at $69/week
  • The Live Therapy plan includes four live therapy sessions a month via live chat, phone, or video call and starts at $99/week
  • The Live + Messaging Therapy plan includes messaging and four live sessions and starts at $129/week

Talkspace hit web browsers in 2012 with the goal to assist patients in leaping over the financial, geographical, and social obstacles that have often plagued the accessibility of quality mental health services. Talkspace understands that key deterrents to seeking mental health treatment include financial strain and fear around both the stigma of seeking treatment and lack of understanding of what that treatment will entail. For this reason, Talkspace makes the pursuit of professional therapy affordable, discreet, and safe for all.

Talkspace offers online therapy for individuals, couples, and teens with the availability of psychiatric medication management. Beginning with a personal assessment, the app analyzes each user’s personal needs in order to match them with a provider; taking the guesswork out of picking a provider at random. Additionally, the app allows you to speak directly with your matched therapist one-on-one and provides the option to message them at any time for their review and feedback. Talkspace therapy packages can differ, but many include video sessions, messaging, and workshop content.

Best for Meditation : Headspace

Courtesy of Headspace.
Key Specs
  • Cost: $12.99 monthly, $69.99 annually
  • Platforms Available: Apple iOS or Android devices, and computer
  • Free Trial: A 14-day free trial is available 
Why We Chose It 

Headspace comes with a library of superior blog content that speaks to various areas and treatments for mental health. Headspace offers guided exercises for beginners through advanced levels for both adults and kids.

Pros & Cons
  • Affordable and upfront pricing

  • Generous free trial program

  • Great meditation and blog content variety

  • Stress/anxiety-specific offerings are not quite as robust overall meditation offerings

  • Beyond focusing on the breath, physical movement does not appear to be a focus


Headspace provides a focus on meditation, mindfulness, and happiness which results in the end goal of increased mental health. Offering thousands of different meditation exercises, Headspace has gathered a diverse library for every individual’s needs and preferences. For those of us who are new to meditation or if the goal is to build upon existing skills, Headspace is our number one pick for any age and level of achievement, including the more experienced. Headspace founders Andy Puddicombe and Rich Pierson aren’t just the brain trusts behind the mental health venture, they are also clients!

Affordable and accessibility is a mission at Headspace, with generous free trials allowing for heaps of sampling before buying, monthly and yearly plans, free access for teens, and discounts for students and families. Not only is Headspace easily affordable, but it’s also all-inclusive, catering to every need and community. Headspace also promotes accessibility by accommodating all schedules and comfort levels. Mini meditations are available starting at one to three minutes in length, assuring mental wellness is prioritized within the busiest schedules.

Plans & Pricing

Packages are offered at $12.99 a month or $69.99 a year.

Best for Anxiety : Calm

Calm Meditation App logo


Key Specs
  • Cost: $69.99 a year or $14.99 a month
  • Platforms Available: iTunes App Store or Google Play store. Compatible with most iOS and Android mobile devices. Calm is also available via web browser
  • Free Trial: Yes
Why We Chose It

With a comprehensive library of meditation offerings, sleep stories, mood music, and inspirational talks, Calm is a great option for those wanting to calm their anxiety and learn tools to help them relax in stressful situations—and it's accessible to kids too.

Pros & Cons
  • Provides benefits that can be applied to any part of your day

  • Content regularly updated

  • Addresses numerous areas that impact mental health

  • No talk therapy option

  • Calm offers assistive technology for those with physical disabilities, but it is not easily located within the site 


Calm offers something for everyone and every style. The app provides guided meditations, sleep tracks, and tools for mindfulness similar to other apps on the market. What sets the Calm app apart are the additional options and categories that are not available elsewhere. Some of these features include calming classical tracks for pets, workplace vibes to help with focus, and short daily videos aimed at building positive habits, such as movement videos conducted by a Calm professional. 

Fully capturing the benefits of a zen and restful mind by speaking to the mental benefits of movement, Calm acts in a manner that’s unlike other mental health apps. Be it simple stretches from the quiet of your bedroom or a break in the stillness from your office chair, Calm brings an awareness, as well as the physical techniques that aim to serve the mind-body connection. Calm offers an array of starter videos to assist in addressing your mental health from multiple vantage points at an affordable price point, and from the convenience of nearly any device and location. 

Calm continues to innovate and accentuate how we discover, address, and treat mental health concerns. With daily offerings to promote mindfulness, stress relief, focus, better sleep, movement, and tranquility for kids, Calm provides a robust program for individuals, families, and colleagues that can be utilized throughout your day. From nearly any location, even from the comfort of your office chair, Calm allows access to their comprehensive list of exercises anytime the need arises.

Plans & Pricing

Calm offers an annual subscription for $69.99 a year and a monthly package valued at $14.99 a month. A seven-day free trial is also available if you would like to test the waters prior to committing.

Best for Group Support : Circles+

Circles Logo


Key Specs
  • Cost: $20 a week 
  • Platforms Available: Apple iOS or Android devices, and web browser
  • Free Trial: One-week free trial is available
Why We Chose It 

Circles offers peer-to-peer support, reinforced by expert leadership and guidance. Circles also brings consistency and conversation together in its 12-week support program.

Pros & Cons
  • Provides a sense of camaraderie and community

  • Peer-to-Peer support, combined with expert guidance and leadership

  • A consistent 12-week support program

  • How the technology functions and end-user experience is not clearly defined via the website

  • Website inconsistency -appears there are two websites. One offers far more information than the other

  • Services are only available to adults ages 18 and up


Circles was founded in 2018 to help create a virtual support group between individuals who share a common struggle or issue. While many of us prefer a one-on-one environment in which to discuss our mental health struggles, the team at Circles builds upon the idea that group therapy for many can be just as, if not more, effective than individual therapy. Groups on the Circles app offer support with addiction, divorce, grief, stress management, parenthood, illness, and more. The premise is to create an alliance of support with other individuals who truly get the pain and/or situation you are going through. Each group holds weekly meetings facilitated by a licensed professional. In addition to a private weekly video meeting, members also have access to a 24/7 group chat and live audio conversations available between your scheduled meetings. 

Circles offers many different programs and groups. A 12-week  program is offered at $20 a week and includes a video meeting package, a vetted group of an additional 10 participants, and one mental health professional facilitator. Circles also offers a more flexible monthly plan as well as a free option. The free option is more limited and does not include a mental health professional as a facilitator.

Plans & Pricing

Twelve-week support programs are offered at $20 a week. Circles offers a free 14-day trial for all monthly and annual subscription plans, as well as limited group sessions at no cost. The free option is more limited and not facilitated.

Best for Kids : Smiling Mind

Smiling Mind

Smiling Mind

Key Specs
  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms Available: iOS and Android. Some content is also available via web browser
  • Free Trial: N/A
Why We Chose It 

Many mental health apps overlook the importance of providing dedicated well-being tools for wee ones. Smiling Mind didn’t just notice this empty space in mental health care, it filled it with free and bite-sized child-friendly mindfulness practices even adults love to take part in.

Pros & Cons
  • Service is available at no cost

  • Provides access to kids starting at age three 

  • Developed via collaboration between psychologists and educators

  • Children will need device access to use the service

  • An email address will be needed to register


Smiling Mind is a mental health not-for-profit organization that provides mindfulness tools and exercises to children and adults at no cost. Since first launching in 2012, Smiling Mind is now considered to be one of the world’s leaders in the preemptive mental health space, per the company's website. Smiling Mind brings the conversation and prioritization of mindfulness to the table at an early age, with programs available to children as young as 3 years old. The app is designed specifically to appeal to children, with a bright, colorful interface and easy-to-read data tracking. 

Smiling Mind has numerous different programs for children, including The Bubble Journey, Snow Globe, Smiling Starfish, and Thrive Inside. Developed via a collaborative effort between psychologists and educators, studies have shown that the Smiling Mind mindfulness program results in improved sleep, enhanced well-being, and improved behavior in children. Program results have been shown to be beneficial for teachers and parents as well.

Plans & Pricing

The app is completely free, though a device and an email are required in order to participate.

Best for Teens : Colorfy

Colorfy logo


Key Specs
  • Cost: Subscriptions start from $9.99 a week
  • Platforms Available: iOS and Android
  • Free Trial: No, but limited free content is available
Why We Chose It 

Colorfy for teens is a mental health app that works to help teens be calm and still while the many benefits of art therapy take hold. It may look like a fun and cool coloring app to a teen, but really it’s a tool to promote mindfulness, calm, and stress reduction.

Pros & Cons
  • Promotes the benefits associated with art therapy 

  • No internet connection needed to use

  • Easily accessible to teens via their trusted app store

  • The app is free, but many of the coloring pictures require payment in order to access them

  • Weekly payment option adds up, making monthly cost more expensive than other apps

  • Art is lost if the app is deleted


Colorfy takes your favorite coloring book and places it in the palm of your hand. The app is much more than a coloring book, allowing users to resolve emotions and thoughts using a visually therapeutic outlet. Art therapy has been shown to provide benefits as it relates to stress, anxiety, trauma, and depression. Coloring allows children, teens, and adults to focus, pass the time, and decompress. Coloring on the app allows the user to slow down their busy thoughts and focus on visually stimulating pages to ease anxiety and restlessness. It also helps that coloring is a ton of fun too! 

Colorfy’s paid subscription allows the use of the app offline, access to over 1,000 different pictures, and the ability to share and view drawings with the entire Colorfy community. The app even allows you to upload your personal drawings and color them using its color palettes and effects. The app is free to download with a limited selection of no-cost drawings. To access a deeper range of coloring pages, a subscription package is required.

Plans & Pricing

A subscription to Colorfy costs $9.99 a week.

Best Free App : Insight Timer

Insight Timer

Insight Timer

Key Specs
  • Cost: Subscriptions are offered for $9.99/mo; $59.99/yr 
  • Platforms Available: iOS and Android. Also available via web browser 
  • Free Trial: 7-day free trial
Why We Chose It 

Insight Timer offers free tools and practices led by experts with superior credentials that guide users to learn tools and techniques to manage their anxiety on the go. The app provides many free guided meditations, with a total of 150,000 tracks from psychologists, spiritual leaders, and mindfulness teachers.

Pros & Cons
  • A robust variety of meditation options

  • Meditations hosted by leaders in the field

  • Exercises for parents and kids

  • Catalog might be a bit overwhelming to a rookie

  • Listening to Insight Timer offline requires a premium subscription


Insight Timer provides an impressive array of content focused on mindfulness, mental health, and relief from daily anxieties. This app provides access to the world’s largest library of guided meditations, with over 150,000 tracks available completely free of charge. Offering more than meditations, the app also helps tackle anxiety via guided contemplation exercises, breathwork, sleep stories, and yoga for a small monthly or annual fee. Daily mood check-ins and journaling capabilities allow you to track your anxiety triggers and note what works best for your personal needs. 

Insight Timer promotes a deep engagement with its activities, helping users develop consistency and maintain a commitment to their mental health journey. The app is free to download and offers a substantial amount of free content. For a more complete experience and access to all of the features Insight Timer has to offer, a paid subscription is recommended.

Plans & Pricing

Subscriptions start at $9.99 a month or $59.99 a year.

Best for Sleep : TIDE

tide fm logo

tide fm

Key Specs
  • Cost: Subscriptions are offered for $11.99 a month or $59.99 a year
  • Platforms Available: iOS and Android. Also available via web browser  
  • Free Trial: No, but limited free content is available
Why We Chose It 

TIDE provides a simple and serene approach to addressing the complex issue of sleep and its impact on mental health. The app offers a crisp and uncluttered look that’s sure to free up the busiest of minds while tracking valuable sleep data addressing the challenges of your resting behavior.

Pros & Cons
  • A strong focus on obtaining mental health through proper sleep 

  • Simple and minimalist design

  • Offers sleep analysis for deeper understanding of your rest patterns

  • Users of the app have noted bugs that have led to a disruption in functionality 

  • Some free content is accessible, but the more robust playlists are only available with paid subscriptions


TIDE prioritizes physical and mental care, aiming to tackle sleep issues from all angles. The look and design of the TIDE app is intentionally uncluttered to create calm and relaxation. The team at TIDE believes that to engage in proper rest, your mind needs to be free of clutter and distraction, not busy, noisy, or hectic. TIDE is not just for the sleep-deprived but also the procrastinator, the distracted creative, and the anxious-minded. 

When it comes to TIDE, you have four basic mindfulness options: sleep, focus, meditation, and breath. Put these pillars together, and you are setting the stage for an ideal night's rest and building the pathway to your overall mental health. Additional features of the TIDE app include: sleep analysis, connectivity to Healthkit, and the ability to synchronize your TIDE data to your iPhone health app as well as the TIDE Diary to keep track of your favorite peaceful and restful moments.

Plans & Pricing

The subscription plan costs $11.99 a month or $59.99 a year.

Best for Breathing Techniques : Breathwrk



Key Specs
  • Cost: A variety of subscription packages are available. Monthly packages begin at $3.99, with the annual offerings starting at $49.99 a year
  • Platforms Available: iOS and Android
  • Free Trial: No
Why We Chose

Breathwrk brings the mental and physical health benefits of breathing to one’s fingertips. Offering hundreds of science-backed breathing exercises and classes, Breathwrk helps reduce stress and helps with better sleep.  

Pros & Cons
  • Practices are versatile and can be done from almost anywhere

  • Reinforces the importance of breathing for relaxation as well as for energizing and recharging

  • Content not available on the website

  • Content unavailable for download 


Breathwrk doesn’t set out just to get you breathing, it aims to get you breathing correctly.  Through proper breathing techniques called breathers, users are able to reduce stress and anxiety, stimulate energy, and promote increased mental health. Studies have shown that “voluntarily regulated breathing practices can significantly improve symptoms of anxiety disorders, trauma- and stressor-related disorders, depressive disorders, and other conditions.” Breathwrk incorporates these fundamental concepts to help guide and support users to find their breath and peace of mind in a personalized way. 

The app features numerous classes and exercises, as well as Apple Health Integration, a breath counter, and Mindfulness Minutes. Free updated exercises are available daily, as well as a variety of health-based exercises, some of which include exercises for Covid support, pregnancy and labor, asthma, migraines, hiccups, and beyond. While a majority of the available exercises are only available through the paid version of the app, Breathwrk provides many discount options, including those for students, families, first responders, and military members.

Plans & Pricing

A variety of subscription packages are available. The monthly packages begin at $3.99, with the annual offerings starting at $49.99 a year.

Best Variety : Simple Habit

Simple Habit

 Simple Habit

Key Specs
  • Cost: Free offerings are available, with subscription packages ranging from $12 a month to $90 for a year
  • Platforms Available: iOS, Android. Content is also available via web browser
  • Free Trial: No, but limited free content is available
Why We Chose It 

Simple Habit provides on-the-go mindfulness for the person who barely has a moment to spare. With over 2,000 short and sweet mindfulness tracks, there is an array of content designed to address whatever the moment or mood.

Pros & Cons
  • Quick five-minute snippets of meditation are available for people always on the go

  • 25+ unique categories

  • Coaching content and motivational speaker content is also made available

  • Not all content is free. To access locked content, a subscription is required

  • Content beyond 15 minutes is a bit limited


Simple Habit’s mission is simple: “ to empower humans to stress less, achieve more, and live better.” The app offers over 2,000 guided meditations and a wide variety of programs. Top meditation and mindfulness teachers, licensed psychologists, and coaches from all over the world guide the app’s users to find their zen, overcome stress, and sleep better. The variety and offerings of meditation topics and subcategories are impressive. Meditations are neatly categorized and easily identified, removing any unnecessary stress as you navigate through the app. 

Simple Habit provides more than 25 different categories containing hundreds of different exercises overall. This app includes topic varieties not otherwise found, such as exercises for intimacy, athletes, holiday stress, and commuting. The app, of course, provides the classic topics of anxiety, health, spirituality, and self-improvement. For variety in a mental health app, Simple Habit simply can’t be beat.

Plans & Pricing

Simple Habit offers free access to a portion of its content, but a lot of meditations and sessions are kept under lock and key for paid subscribers. Subscription packages range from $12 a month to $90 for a year.

Final Verdict

The mental health apps mentioned in this roundup draw a focus and prioritization to mental health. Those looking for more structured talk and text therapy will be hard-pressed to find a better app than Talkspace. The app allows for on-the-go, around-the-clock therapy options between texting your therapist seven days a week and one weekly live session via chat, video, or phone. For those looking for a self-guided, yet structured meditation app, Headspace is a perfect option. 

Some of the more mainstream apps do come at a cost, but free apps like Smiling Mind and Insight Timer knock it out of the park for families and those on a budget. For limited but fantastic free content, Simple Habit does an excellent job of providing outlets and access to mental health support and tools.

Compare the Best Mental Health Apps

Company Price Platforms Available Free Trial?
Talkspace Best for Therapy Packages start at $69 per week Apple iOS or Android devices and can also be reached from your desktop or laptop computer's web browser No
Headspace Best for Meditation $12.99 monthly, $69.99 annually Apple iOS or Android devices and can also be reached from your desktop or laptop computer's web browser A 14-day free trial is available. 
Calm Best for Anxiety $69.99 a year or $14.99 a month Apple iOS or Android devices and can also be reached from your desktop or laptop computer's web browser Yes
Circles+ Best for Group Support $20 a week. Apple iOS or Android devices One-week free trial is available.
Smiling Mind Best for Kids Free Apple iOS or Android devices App is free.
Colorfy Best for Teens Subscriptions start at $9.99 a week Apple iOS or Android devices No, but limited free content is available. 
Insight Timer Best Free App Subscriptions are offered for $9.99 a month up to $59.99 a year.  Apple iOS or Android devices and can also be reached from your desktop or laptop computer's web browser 7-day free trial is available. 
TIDE Best for Sleep Subscriptions are offered for $11.99 a month or $59.99 a year. Apple iOS or Android devices and can also be reached from your desktop or laptop computer's web browser  No, but limited free content is available. 
Breathwrk Best for Breathing Techniques A variety of subscription packages are available. Monthly packages begin at $3.99, with the annual offerings starting at $49.99 a year. Apple iOS or Android devices No
Simple Habit Best for Variety Free offerings are available, with subscription packages ranging from $12 a month to $90 for a year. Apple iOS or Android devices and can also be reached from your desktop or laptop computer's web browser No, but limited free content is available. 

Guide to Choosing the Best Mental Health Apps

What Do Mental Health Apps Do?

Mental Health Apps provide awareness and accessibility to those in need of mental health treatment and management. Mental health apps are not designed to replace trained medical health professionals. Instead, these apps are meant to be used as tools for those in need of assistance regulating aspects of their daily lives. Many apps provide guidance and coaching in behaviors that may help alleviate symptoms of mental health disorders such as anxiety, sleeplessness, mood regulation, grief, and depression. Mental health apps cannot diagnose or treat mental health issues or disorders.

Are Mental Health Apps Effective?

Recent research suggests that mental health apps have not yet proven themselves as long-term treatment resource for stress, anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues. While mental health apps may still be earning their stripes as a long-term solution to mental health, it is fair to infer that they do serve a short-term benefit by providing periods of relief, an awareness of mental health symptoms, and serve as an identifier for need or treatment. “Mental health apps are a good option for those who need additional support between therapy sessions or who would like a routine to check in on their mental health regularly. They can supplement CBT therapy, for example, or help you practice mindfulness by offering meditation guides or sleep aids. However, most mental health apps are not sufficient on their own, especially for those living with more severe symptoms,” says subject matter expert Hannah Owens, LMSW.

How to Compare the Best Mental Health Apps

Each mental health app has its own core area of interest, expertise, and cost structure. With many options available and a lot of packages, some things to consider are:

  • What areas of concern do you want to focus on? 
  • What price points can you afford? 
  • Does the app you want offer a free trial? 
  • Are you looking for a trained professional or a self-guided experience? 
  • How much time do you have to devote each day? 
  • Will your chosen app be for personal use alone, or will you also use it with your family?

What areas of your mental health do you think need to be supported:

  • Are you stressed, are you sad, are you overwhelmed?
  • Do you feel disconnected?
  • Do you need assistance in relaxing? 

Do you need the ear and support of a trained professional?

  • Would you benefit from talking or typing out your thoughts to a professional therapist?
  • Do you want one-on-one time with an expert who provides you with insight and wellness tips and tricks? 

What platforms do you use: Make sure the app is available on iOs, Android, desktop, and any other devices you plan to use.

Cost: Of course, cost should always be a consideration. Is limited free content enough, or do you need a full catalog of options?

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is Meditation Good for Your Mental Health?

    Meditation has been shown to benefit not only mental health, but physical health as well. Through the act of meditation and redirecting one’s consciousness, a person has the ability to decrease stress, improve attention and self-awareness, reduce headaches, and improve immunity.

  • What Are Some Common Ways to Improve Your Mental Well-Being?

    Just taking a beat and a breath can greatly impact mental well-being. By allowing yourself a moment to pause, inhale deeply, and exhale slowly, you can hit the reset button on your nervous system and your general outlook on life.

  • What Can You Do Daily to Improve Your Mental Health?

    Making small improvements in your mental health doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg, but it may cause you to move one.  Physical exercise, proper sleep, keeping connected with others, and helping others in need have been shown to raise the bar regarding mental health.

  • Can Mental Health Apps Be a Substitute for In-Person Therapy?

    As we discussed earlier, mental health apps do an excellent job of addressing in-the-moment concerns and providing short-term relief, but should your concerns be a consistent factor that impacts your everyday life, you may be better suited to coupling a mental health app with in-person therapy. If you are experiencing severe mental health issues or thoughts of harming yourself, seek immediate help or call the crisis hotline.


Our research team initially considered 46 mental health apps. To narrow down the list, special attention was given to the apps that were created by experts, employed evidence-based practices and therapies, and were regularly updated with new content and best practices; overall cost and free options were also considered. We also ensured that two or more mental health conditions were given priority within the content of the app, including, but not limited to, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, and stress. And last, we consulted with subject matter experts to ensure our final list of winners was, in fact, the best of the best.

Psychologist Consulting Patient At Clinic

Juliya Shapoval / EyeEm / Getty Images

Article Sources
  1. What is art therapy? | psychology. Org.

  2. Goldberg SB, Lam SU, Simonsson O, Torous J, Sun S. Mobile phone-based interventions for mental health: A systematic meta-review of 14 meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials. PLOS Digital Health. 2022;1(1):e0000002.

  3. Meditation and mindfulness: what you need to know. NCCIH.

  4. Ten things you can do for your mental health | university health service.

  5. Ten things you can do for your mental health | university health service.

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