Imagine a 15-year-old boy at wit's end.
He’s in the whirlwind of a mental health crisis and logic and clear thinking is impossible. Not knowing where to turn for help, his life is in now truly in danger.
Fortunately, the help he needs so badly is right in front of him on his cell phone.
That lifeline has been made possible by a mental health app launched by Mindyourmind, a renowned youth mental health organization based in the Forest City.
The app allows users to create a personal safety plan, inform them of mental health resources in London and the surrounding area, give options for getting help and enable them to reach out for assistance safely.
Taylor Holden knows how vital it can be to have that information instantly available.
Holden, 19, handles youth lead in partnership development for Mindyourmind, which launched the app along with a team made up of local youth, members the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and other partners in the Systems Improvement through Service Collaborations initiative.
Be Safe was created after it was identified there was a system gap in London and Middlesex County where many young people were going to the emergency room for mental health crisis situations.
“Crises aren’t scheduled. It’s always important to be prepared for that, which is part of the app too, to have all your personal information stored in the app when you are in a good spot to fill that all out first,” Holden said. “Also, we encourage people to go through the app a bit before a crisis happens so if you are in a bad situation, there is a little help right there on your phone.”
As valuable as services are in the ER, Holden points out young people were not getting the help they needed because “it isn’t the best place to go all the time.”
So it was decided greater awareness was needed for the other resources available to youth in a crisis.
And in the 21st century it was thought an app would be the best tool for delivering that information, that according to Mindyourmind’s youth projects volunteer coordinator.
“Young people have told us technology is a crucial vehicle to provide them with information. It is just way more accessible to young people,” said Heather Miko-Kelly. “They are carrying the Internet with them wherever they go. They are connected through social media. That is how they are finding all information, through technology. So, it was important to us to connect with something they use in their everyday lives.”
In the first year Be Safe saw approximately 2,000 downloads, which Holden said is “pretty great” for a local app.
She adds there was a lot of positive feedback on the app, much of it posted directly to the app on iTunes and the Play Store, where it’s available for free.
While a lot of the feedback was around the app, there was even more provided around the process of creating it. In particular, many people praised the involvement of local youth who assisted in building the app “from the ground up.”
Holden said she believes a lot of the success of Be Safe can be credited to having the right people around the table.
The nine young members included those with lived experience, as well as several who had experience in building apps.
“I think it gives it more credibility. I think that is what gives Mindyourmind the credibility it has because we co-create all the tools with young people,” Holden said.