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.”