Royal Ottawa launches mental health app for students

A new app created by the Royal Ottawa Hospital fosters healthy minds and teaches university and college students how to deal with day-to-day pressures and stressful situations.

Log into HealthyMinds and tell it how you're feeling and it might give you suggestions on your diet, on how to de-stress or even show you how to calm down using a breathing exercise.

Laura Kidd, a recent Algonquin College grad said the app has the potential to make a big difference for thousands of students.

"Once you try it, you see how therapeutic it can be," she said. "Maybe you're not the type of person to speak your problems to somebody else, so by writing them down you can externalize your problems and you can - you'll feel the stress liften off of you."

"I suppose it's the mental health equivalent of first aid," said Simon Hatcher, a psychiatrist with the Royal Ottawa who helped develop the app.

"It's about teaching people a skill," he said. "It's not going to solve all your problems, but it is about helping you develop a skill."

He said the app helps users develop a healthy way of thinking.

"They will be able to put their difficulties, perhaps, in perspective," he said. "They can see that there's a different way of approaching them apart from feeling overwhelmed and that they'll learn a new skill. That may not be enough for some people. Some people need extra help, they need to see people face-to-face. They need skilled professional help. This certainly isn't intended to replace that."

The app, which is currently only available for Apple products was created thanks to funding from local charity Do It For Daron.

The app is expected to eventually be available on the Antroid platform as well.

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