Smartphone therapy could help depressed college kids

By Jessica Rine

UC Davis students now have a simpler way to seek mental-health help for themselves or their friends: They merely have to whip out their smartphones.

Just in Case, developed by eReadia LLC in partnership with NASPA Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, is an app designed for college students to discretely seek help if they are feeling depressed or out of sorts. Upon entrance to the app, the user encounters a list of strategically worded choices like, “I’m struggling to cope,” and, “I’m worried about a friend.” Clicking on a menu option will take the user to the Just in Case website which provides telltale signs of depression. The user is then given advice on how to handle situations and a list of resources to call or visit, both on campus and off.

According to eReadia, about half of all college students will have suicidal thoughts at some point, but most will not seek help.

The app was launched at the UC Davis main campus December 9 to coincide with finals week, a particularly high-stress time for students. Since its launch, campus staff psychologist A. Zachary Ward said the app has counted 516 users. The Student Health and Counseling Services, which helped launch the app, expects even more when students settle back into their post-finals grooves.

UC Davis is one of about 15 schools that has introduced the app at its campus, joining University of California campuses in Berkeley, Irvine, Riverside and San Diego. According to Ward, UC Davis has had one of the most successful launches on a major university campus.

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