On a day now famous for talking about mental health, a local app developer launches one that promises relief in your pocket. Rootd, a female-founded mental health app for those struggling with panic attacks and anxiety officially launched Jan. 30.
Greater Victoria resident Ania Wysocka was first inspired by a lack of resources that combine effective exercises and accessibility with modern engaging design, and by the need to reduce the stigma felt by those who suffer from anxiety and panic attacks.
“Rootd’s approachable and fun design helps people feel comfortable having the app open on their screen any time or place they feel they need to use it. We hope that normalizing our interactions with these type of resources will help reduce stigma,” she said.
A cute and caring but slightly disgruntled monster named Ron guides users through lessons and sessions for immediate and long-term relief. Features include lessons to understand anxiety and panic attacks, a panic button, a deep breathing tool, guided and active meditation, as well as soothing nature sounds.
“I don’t really suffer from anxiety myself but I use it for the breathing techniques,” said Devan Chiappetta McCannel, a fan of the app and friend of the developer. Though he finds it educational as a boyfriend to someone who has anxiety. “I find it helpful to understand what they’re going through. There are lessons on what anxiety is and what causes it. It’s helpful.”
The Rootd app pre-launched on World Mental Health Day 2017 for iOS devices with limited features. About 50,000 organic downloads to date “validated” that the bootstrapped, self-funded app hit a target.
“It showed me that it was something that people needed,” she said. The hundreds of comments buoyed both her work and spirit. They poured in from young women around the world sharing stories of how the app helped them learn to rely on partners, return to work, and in at least one case “graduated” from Rootd but still carried it as a safeguard.
“I love reading messages and reviews from users and working out how we can incorporate feedback into the app to make it even better. The need for a tool like Rootd has been validated through the number of downloads, and hearing positive feedback from users around the world shows that it’s capable of working and making a difference in users’ lives.”
Rootd is available worldwide as a free download on iOS and Android devices. Learn more at rootd.io or download the app on GooglePlay or iTunes.
“I’ve also started offering subscriptions for businesses,” she said, adding ideally she would like it to be completely free for those who need it.