A young black PhD student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Clinical Psychology Graduate Program, is developing an app to address discrimination against mental health.
Henry Willis, a PhD student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Clinical Psychology Graduate Program, is developing a mental health app for Black youth.
Persisting stigmas around mental health can make it difficult for Black youth to receive the help they need.
They’re often forced to navigate misconceptions within their communities and anti-Blackness within the medical industry.
And Henry, grad student is using tech to erase some of those barriers.
“I’ve published papers that have looked at how things such as online racial discrimination can lead to increased PTSD symptoms, or how positive racial identity beliefs can lead to better mental health over time, for African American youth” Willis revealed.
Willis’ research inspired him to find an innovative way to help Black youth cope with stress and discrimination through technology.
He described the app as not only providing a gateway for promoting better mental health, but also offering users ways to deal with things unique to the Black experience.
When most people think of apps, ones for Black mental health don’t immediately come to mind.
But for Willis, it made perfect sense, as he noticed the popularity of mobile-health apps increasing over the past few years.
“For instance, if you have any sort of smart watch, you’re probably counting your steps or setting daily fitness goals which targets physical health,” Willis explained.
So he decided to have the same thing for mental health, on Black youth specifically, because it’s often a time period full of changes.
Young people are often going into new environments such as college or the workforce, or even moving away from home and their support systems.
Those experiences, combined with the struggle of learning how to be an adult, can take a toll on mental health.
The app will provide a variety of services, including education about basic mental health systems; like explaining the basics of depression or anxiety and information on how symptoms manifest.
The app will also make it possible users to create a profile and “mental health plan”, to enable them engage in things that promote mental health awareness.
The app is currently still in development, with an anticipated summer 2019 launch.
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