Youth mental health app ‘first of its kind in Canada’

Cutting edge design appeals to young patients, Island Health says

Take a moment to browse the /r/depression forum on Reddit and the reality becomes immediately clear: today’s youth flock to online mediums to deal with mental illness.

But a new app, thought to be the first of its kind in Canada, is aiming to reach teens in that digital realm when they need it most.

BoosterBuddy uses video game design elements to establish positive habits to mental health, said Drew Barnes, program co-ordinator with Island Health’s mental health and substance use services.

“In our hospital, the goal is to work with youth like a coach, to reconnect them with their school, family, friends, so they can move beyond our care,” Barnes said at the app launch event last week. “When we first proposed this app, we didn’t know if anyone would relate to the idea or where it would go.”

To the surprise of Barnes and clinical lead Lauren Fox, teens in the focus study were enthusiastic about the idea of an app to assist them in their recovery. They wanted a companion, Barnes said, and they wanted it to provide symptom tracking over time, crisis contacts and medication notifications.

Dr. Abraham Rudnick, medical director with Island Health’s mental health and substance use services, said mental health disorders have become the second highest reason for youth admission at Canadian hospitals.

Download BoosterBuddy on any Android or Apple mobile device.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com