Emerging Idea: Health Out Loud Mobile Health Project Promotes Mental Health Awareness

Rationale / Objectives

Mental health issues are prevalent in society, yet can be misunderstood. Many individuals may not reach out for help and are fearful of the stigma associated with mental health. Raising awareness is the first step and has many benefits including: eradicating stigma, erasing misconceptions, and creating improvements in mental health access and quality of services. 

Project/Program Description & Major Achievements

In the face of this mental health movement, Allie Margaret May, a Master of Health Informatics student, is working in conjunction with Health Out Loud and VEEP (The Volunteer Engineering Experience Program at the University of Toronto) to launch a new mobile health app for students which will allow them to share their experiences and feelings in a safe environment.

The app’s main design is to promote users to communicate using hashtags (#) to share their mood and chat safely with others who use the same hashtag. Users will be able to share what they are feeling, facilitate discussion while also having the ability to connect each other to various mental health resources nearby. 

Lessons Learned

The creation of the app came from the need to not only raise awareness for mental health but raise awareness regarding the struggle of balancing one's mental health with academics and university responsibilities. Still in the early stages of development, the app aims to create a safe space for students and youth regarding the discussion of their mental health in relation to their academic lives.

Further Description

Health Out Loud (HOL) is a movement that originally began as a student group and later expanded into a non-profit organization in 2014. HOL’s main mission is to create an open and fun environment to discuss health in both formal and informal settings. The organization has paired with multiple universities and high schools to reach this goal, providing both educational and community partner programs.

VEEP is a University of Toronto program that pairs teams of four students with local not-for-profit organizations to work on projects. VEEP has provided many organizations with real-life innovative technical projects to assist them in reaching their organizational goals.