Skip to main content

Mental health app developed for stressed-out students

HealthyMinds app allows students to track their mood and devise coping strategies.

by Natalie Samson

healthyminds_210
A screenshot of the HealthyMinds app.

Amid growing concerns over the mental health of students, the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group, in partnership with the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and the Association of Canadian Community Colleges, has launched HealthyMinds, an app to help students cope with stress and manage emotional and mental wellness.

The app is free to download in English or French (as Toutematête) through Apple’s App Store. It features a daily mood tracker with optional journal or photo entries; an iCal-compatible step-by-step guide to identifying, framing and overcoming problems; and tips for stress-busting, coping with anxiety and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Researchers and clinicians developed the app out of student feedback from The Royal’s Is It Just Me? series of educational workshops aimed at reducing the stigma around mental illness. Mindful that this stigma often prevents young adults from seeking out help during emotional crisis, developers opted for a mobile resource that ensures privacy and encourages self-exploration and resilience by introducing problem-solving strategies.

The project is funded through a donation from Do It For Daron, which supports youth mental illness initiatives in memory of 14-year-old Daron Richardson, who died by suicide in 2010. The app complements ever-growing health and wellness supports available to students on and off campus, and is just the latest response by postsecondary institutions to growing concerns around youth mental health, says AUCC President Paul Davidson.

“Mental health issues just were not talked about a decade ago,” he says. “It’s something that touches people right across the country and this kind of resource might really make a difference … because it’s been developed for students to use wherever they are.”

Print Comments (4) Post a comment
Email Reprint Share Share

Comments on this Article

Perhaps an app to connect with an on-campus counseling that would allow the student to arrange a screening appointment without having to call or show up in person? Thanks for sharing this great article..
For more information please visit on this site..
www.gogetapps.ca

Posted by toronto mobile app development, Jun 27, 2014 4:23 AM

Several key points have already been mentioned, so I wanted to reply, to what I believe are key elements in all that's been said (or will be said in reply). Stigma, and Ignorance are the essential reasons why individuals do not seek services. They are afraid. This App allows for silence to be broken, even if it's in private. First, one has to acknowledge that there is an issue. Then, they need to be able to confirm that their concerns are valid. I agree with the next step, and this is where the App could be further modified. If the App could confirm a potential mental health related issue and provide credible resources to the individual for follow-up and support, those who may otherwise to have kept their issues to themselves may very well find the help that is required to begin the journey towards wellness, self assuredness, hope and recovery. It may not be the end of the story, but I think that it's an excellent beginning.

Posted by Mental Health Professional, Apr 17, 2014 12:51 PM

Agree to some extent with the previous commenter, that while the intention is good, this app may not help students obtain the services that they need on campus. Stigma still plays a huge role in people not accessing mental health treatment, and while it is a step in the right direction to have students monitoring and thinking about their mental health -- have to wonder what more could be done? Perhaps an app to connect with an on-campus counseling that would allow the student to arrange a screening appointment without having to call or show up in person?

Posted by Anna Kaminsky, Feb 16, 2014 2:11 PM

This is a great idea, and definitely part of a solution. However, creating an app and universities thinking this will solve mental health issues on campus ignores the realities of the undergraduate meat grinder - a system that does not tolerate mistakes and thus punishes students who take risks and do not fit into the neat box that is deemed "academic excellence," usually evaluated using multiple choice questions.

Until students are allowed and encouraged to take risks without the worries of how this will impact their careers (as one bad grade can ruin applications for graduate/professional) school, mental health problems will be rife in Canadian post secondary institutions.

It is further exacerbated by a culture where speaking out is not encouraged - hence why I will not attach my name to this comment. If you're caught speaking out, you are immediately black listed by (some) departments. And that's a risk I won't take.

Posted by Grad student, Feb 6, 2014 4:13 PM


Post a comment

University Affairs moderates all comments according to the following guidelines. If approved, comments generally appear within one business day. We may republish particularly insightful remarks in our print edition or elsewhere.