In college one in every three students report prolonged periods of depression, 30% of those students reported problems with school work due to a mental health issue, and only 50% of college students received education on mental health issues prior to coming to college (picture). That means that half of the students on Temple Universities campus and other college campuses don’t know about mental health issues, who it affects, and if it may affect them. A survey was done by the National Alliance on Mental Illness where they sent a survey to college students who did suffer from some type of mental issue. The results were really interesting, 82% of the responses were from women because it seems that women are 2 times more likely to experience depression during their lifetime. The survey also brought light to problems with colleges not being aware of how many students suffer from mental health issues. “A depressive episode made it impossible for me to go to classes and I did not get help until it was too late.” (2012, pg 8). The page then went to show how colleges could help bring more attention to the issues, and what accommodations could be given to students with mental health issues. Another student agreed that more can be done by colleges to help students stating “I think colleges should pay attention to the fact that many more students need mental health services than who actually access them. Some of the students most affected or most at risk for mental health conditions are the hardest to reach because they are secluded in their rooms” (2012, pg 5)
This in part inspired me to create my app Just Breathe. The idea behind the app is to educate individuals about mental health issues, as well as help those who may suffer from mental health issues. The app is to be split into a few different pages, an information page, emergency contact page, calming page, search engine, and lastly a “my page”.
The information page is split into two different area’s one is for the individual facing problems with mental health, the second is for those who want more information on how to help someone with mental issues. Very often those who have children, siblings, friends or significant others with a mental health disorder are very uneducated on the topic. Sometimes they are unsure of how to help, how to approach them or help them when they have a break down or panic attack. I hope that this app and the information given will help those understand more of what is going on with their loved ones or themselves, and helps them understand that its more common then they think.
The emergency contact page will have numbers for different hotlines and numbers, including suicide hotlines, numbers to call for abusive relationships, eating disorders and anxiety. This page will also have the option for the individual to import numbers of family members or friends that they can contact in a time of need.
The calming page is a section that is used by those who suffer from mental health issues. This page is mostly to help calm a person when they may be having a panic attack or upset moment. On this page there will be music that they can upload songs that they enjoy or that can help put them into a better mood. The music section will also include sounds and ambient noise that can be used to calm or distract the individual. There will be games that can be played, simple games like Tetris or puzzles that can distract them during that time, they will be a part of the phone so that Wi-Fi is not needed to access this area. Most importantly on the page there will be a breathing timer and movements section. The breathing timer will be to help a person in a panic attack catch their breath and calm down. Very often during a panic attack it is difficult to steady your breathing to get back to a normal state, the breathing timer will help to count how many breaths you should take in and how many you should exhale. It counts for you so you can just focus on it and not on numbers. It will also have lists of different positions you can lay in to help your breathing or calm your body. These movements will all be listed on the page and you will just need to find one that applies to you.
The search engine can be used by anyone. Since so many college students are unaware of how many people are affected by mental health many also don’t know where they can seek help when they do face any issues. The search engine will use your maps or GPS, with your permission, to find hospital, clinics, and centers around you that you, or someone you know can go to. On a college campus it will locate the counseling center through your schools page, find it’s location, and information of how to get in contact and schedule and appointment with the college’s center.
Lastly the area “My Page” is for the individual to put anything that they need to help them on. This page will be password protected so only they can have access to it. They can upload certain photos that they can look at to cheer them up. There is also a notepad where they can write down anything that they feel at the time, as a diary of sort. Often some who have mental health issues need to write things down or get things out of their head.
The importance of this app being mobile is so that it is available at anytime that someone may be in need of it. A panic attack or break down can happen anywhere, you may not necessarily be near objects, medication or people that you need to help you through it. That’s where the app’s mobile function comes in handy; if you’re at school and find yourself having a panic attack you can excuse yourself to the bathroom or a quiet area and use the different sections of the app to help yourself through the attack.
I really wanted to create this app for the sake of social justice. Many college students suffer from some type of mental health issue, it could be from depression, anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Those who suffer from these disorders often don’t tell many people because mental health has such a negative stigma around it. “I was concerned that the information would become part of a permanent record that could be viewed negatively. I still feel that there is a slot of stigma and the benefits of disclosing do not outweigh the risks” (2012, pg9). You often can’t go a day without hearing the term “damn she’s crazy” or something about the way people think being wrong. Many students don’t want to be labeled as “crazy” or think that because they have these problems or disorders that they cannot function like everyone else. I faced this myself with telling anyone about my depression and anxiety, mostly because I didn’t want people to pity me or think that I could handle situations or certain actions because I could become anxious or more upset. In reality mental health affects everyone at least once in their life and if it doesn’t affect them, someone they know is most likely affected in some way. “I was scared to let anyone know about my crisis because I did not want people to worry, did not know who I could turn to and did not want to get in trouble” (2012, pg 18). I was interested in creating an app for mental health to try to show a different side of mental health. That is why I had the information page, you can go to this page and see basic information on different types on disorders, how to help someone, how to diagnose someone, or for yourself to just learn more about what you are facing in your life. I hope that this app would also help those who suffered from mental health issues to come forward and share their stories and struggles to help reduce the stigma around mental issues
When originally doing research for my app I looked online and on the iTunes app store to see if there were any apps that were like this. On the iTunes app store I really couldn’t find many options for an app that was available to help educate and calm people in the same place. They are a lot of apps that would give you information about different mental issues, mostly for nurses or med students. Online I found a few websites that help with calming people, these site would give you options to have a “quite space” where you would use head phones to listen to calming ambient sounds and music and get to write out any things that were troubling or bothering you at the time. As you typed the sentence and then began to type the other the worlds would disappear from the text space, making the worries disappear(Quite Place 2014). This created the idea for the “my page” section of the app, so you could get the ideas out and not have to think about them so much. Other websites also had drawing pages or quotes to help inspire or make them feel not as alone.
This app is very private, for the sake of the individual. The only area’s that would be accessing any personal information or location is the search engine and my page. And they are both only used with permission and are password locked so you don’t have to worry about anything being released that you wouldn’t want. Privacy is important for this app because I would want those who use them to feel comfortable with using the app the way it is intended.
My original field research was don’t done with this app in mind I did a shorter one at the Tuttleman Counseling Center waiting room. While there I noticed how many students didn’t interact with one another. No one spoke or even made eye contact. Probably because some felt awkward to be there, I know I did the first few times I went to see a counselor. This can relate back to the stigma of mental health and how it has a negative view.
Almost anyone would be able to use this app, except for those who have visual impairment. It would be difficult for those who are blind to use the app unless they had another app to help read it to them, all the features of the app should be fine to use though if visually impaired.
In conclusion I really want this app to help those who may not know much about mental health issues understand it more, as well as treat it like it should be. The stigma around mental health is one that isn’t looked at too often, “they need to publicize mental health issues more, instead of waiting until a student commits suicide to focus on problems” (2012, pg 19). I want this app to also help those who do suffer from mental issues to use the calming page to help them through panic attacks and other bad moments. As a person who suffers from depression and anxiety I would find this app extremely helpful, and would love if it could be more of a reality. I really enjoyed putting this project together, finding information about mental health and the ways that they can have less of a stigma. It made me feel less alone like I hope it does for others too.
Taylor, D. Insomnia and mental health in college students . Behavior sleep medicine, 9, 107-116.
Nursing Standard . . Retrieved May 6, 2014, from http://web.a.ebscohost.com.libproxy.temple.edu/ehost/detail?sid=78fa3d51-25fd-456f-8782-7e03b28e2be2%40sessionmgr4005&vid=1&hid=4106&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#db=aph&jid=4ER
The Quite Place. (n.d.). project. Retrieved April 15, 2014, from http://thequietplaceproject.com/
I Want You Safe: Calming Websites . (n.d.). . Retrieved April 15, 2014, from http://backonpointe.tumblr.com/post/61110192180/i-want-you-safe-calming-websites
Gruttadaro, D., & Crudo, D. (2012). College Students Speak: A Survey Report on Mental Illness. Arlington, VA: National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Light, Ann and Rosemary Luckin. (2008). “Designing for Social Justice: People, Technology and Learning.” Report for Futurelab.