App-enabled Mental Health Services
There are three main mental health apps directed towards college students in the U.S. that are currently available today. Though there are a number of other possibly applicable apps, these are either still in development or target other demographics. The available apps include Bliss: Harvard Mental Health, SafeUT, and StudentLife.
BLISS: HARVARD MENTAL HEALTH
Bliss: Harvard Mental Health is an app that focuses on available mental health resources on the Harvard campus. The app won first place at Harvard's Great Mobile Appathon, a national competition where students have 24 hours to build an inventive and unique app.
The app provides information on news articles and organizations focused on mental health, access to peer counseling groups, and a list of mental health-focused events and panels held on the Harvard campus.
The SafeUT Crisis Text and Tip Line was developed by a team at The University of Utah's Neuropsychiatric Institute to provide a form of crisis intervention across the state. Originally, this app was meant for high school students experiencing "emotional crises, bullying, relationship problems, mental health or suicide related issues," according to the university, but it has expanded to reach college-aged students as well.
Students are able to send confidential tips to administrators regarding any problems they may be experiencing in school. They also have access to trained therapists and licensed social workers, who work 24/7 through the anonymous app to provide support relating to depression, anxiety, bullying, drug and/or alcohol abuse, and any other struggles the student might be dealing with at the time.
While suicide is the primary cause of death among Utah residents between the ages of 10 and 17, it has reported that this app may be responsible for a 20% decrease in youth suicide attempts statewide, with tens of thousands of students accessing the app in the first year since its release.
StudentLife was created by researchers at Dartmouth University to see how levels of stress, happiness, and depression can affect academic performance. It compiles data by continuously measuring sleep habits, physical activity, number and length of conversations the app user has throughout the day, and self-assessments on mood. Using computational methods and algorithms, the app is able to use automatic sensing data to collect this information. Though there are concerns about privacy with this app, findings have already been discovered that could help students with their academic and emotional performance, including correlations found between social activity and feelings of happiness, which correlates to positive academic performance.
The developers wish to update the app in the future to include feedback and intervention options, including the ability to warn students of the risks of partying too much, poor sleeping habits, and lack of social activity.
Though the only media coverage Bliss: Harvard Mental Health received was due to the app winning the Great Mobile Appathon, SafeUT and StudentLife received an exorbitant amount of media coverage. The media primarily reports on what the app does and how it can help students, and both SafeUT and StudentLife have received overwhelmingly positive reviews from the media.
In conclusion, there are three main apps that focus on mental health services for college students: Bliss: Harvard Mental Health, SafeUT, and StudentLife. All of these apps are free and easily accessible to students. Bliss: Harvard Mental Health focuses on mental health resources and events on the Harvard campus. SafeUT provides 24/7 access to trained therapists and social workers for students suffering from bullying, depression, anxiety, and any additional life problems. StudentLife uses automatic sensing data to analyze data on a student's lifestyle and mood habits in relation to their academic performance. Though there have been reports of concern relating to privacy with the use of the StudentLife app, the media has generally expressed positive reviews of all three apps.
A slideshow of this report can be found at the following link: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1rEuXPpYNHpIkDfQnQYDcRanaPHLAj_hJXFJXs7gSWFQ/edit?usp=sharing