Mental health app adds to UNT health services

Mental health app adds to UNT health services

April 14
02:21 2016

Evan McAlister | Staff Writer

@evan_McAlister

There is now a smartphone app to help students and faculty find resources to prevent suicide.

UNT’s mental health taskforce worked with a company to bring the app, called Just In Case, to the university community. Officials said it offers information about mental health resources to students who are at risk for suicide or a mental health crisis. The app connects users to emergency response agencies and provides information and intervention tools.

“With the app and the mental health taskforce, we want to reduce the stigma and normalize help seeking behaviors and care,” taskforce chairwoman Teresa McKinney said. “So many people think they’re the only ones suffering from this but they’re not.”

The app offers direct links to police or counseling phone numbers, and lists prompts for students to follow based on how they’re feeling.

According to the National Research Consortium of Counseling Centers in Higher Education, more than 50 percent of students have suicidal thoughts at some point during their time in college.

State Senate Bill 1624 requires that universities and colleges provide information about mental health and suicide prevention services. This makes it necessary for the university to inform all new students of the resources available to students and the university community.

“We want to normalize it so that anyone who suffers from a mental health crisis, they can feel comfortable seeking help from peers or counseling,” McKinney said. “If we normalize it, we make it okay and we take away that stigma.”

McKinney said students were unaware of the resources at their disposal, so the taskforce had to find a better way to market the university’s mental health services.

Assistant journalism professor Sarah Champlin and advertising senior Christina Rodriguez developed the marketing plan for the mental health taskforce to help alleviate the counseling center’s high volume of patients. 

“We did a lot of research, we needed to find out what college students needed to hear the most,” Rodriguez said. “The problem seemed to be that they were allowing themselves to get too stressed to the point where they needed to see someone professionally.”

They found freshman and sophomores experience the highest levels of stress and most students are not aware of non-professional sessions available to help distressed students, like play therapy and the relaxation rooms in the University Union.

“I think this is definitely something I’d have just in case a friend was having a crisis,” biology and chemistry junior Michelle Fresnedo said. “I can see this app being really useful in an emergency and would be way better than just Googling your symptoms.”

Research found that UNT’s mental health is similar to other four-year universities, and each university handles it differently but mainly try to help through marketing campaigns.

“We found that our marketing could be better so we stepped it up,” Rodriguez said. “Everything else that we offer needed to be publicized better.”

The taskforce is currently evaluating the app and additional language options.

Featured Image: Courtesy | Just In Case

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RT @spicer_alec: More excellent coverage from our senior staff news reporter @LizzySpangler. Brief yourself on tonight’s SGA meeting with h…
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RT @LizzySpangler: ...so that long term care services may be offered to students on campus. Let it be further resolved, UNT will work to em…
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