November 21, 2018 9:00 pm

University of Alberta students get in touch with well-being, mental health through WellTrack app

WATCH: WellTrack is a self-help online tool and app that is helping University of Alberta students track and improve their mood, well-being and mental health. Emily Mertz explains.

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A Canadian-made wellness platform is helping students at the University of Alberta become more aware of and engaged in their own mental health.

WellTrack was created in New Brunswick and was made available at the U of A this fall.

It allows students to create an account and access personalized resources, relaxation exercises, mood-tracking tools and coping strategies to help change thoughts and behaviours.

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“It’s not seen as a treatment tool or a replacement for one-on-one counselling support or social work assistance; it’s a compliment to those types of resources that the campus already offers,” said Kevin Friese, assistant dean of students with the university’s Health and Wellness department.

“It’s intended to get people a little more mindful, get them thinking about the things that maybe, on a daily basis, we don’t clue into that might be stressors for ourselves or maybe cause us to lose sleep or become more anxious.

“It’s really intended as that maintenance piece.

“If they’re doing those things, if they’re becoming more mindful, if they’re checking in on: ‘How am I feeling today? And why am I feeling a little more anxious than usual?’ then they can use some of the tools and resources WellTrack offers to nudge them back on the track and keep them in a flourishing place.”

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Friese said WellTrack and the data it stores securely can also be a beneficial resource for mental health professionals who may later work with that student client.

“We wanted a tool that included some kind of self-assessment for the student that was grounded in an actual recognized mental health psycho-metric tool and this offers that.

“When the student first logs in they go through a self-assessment that actually helps them get a baseline score of where they’re at in terms of their anxiety level, their stress and their depression levels. Then over time, it offers them up the option to go through that again as they’re working through modules and so forth and see what their progress looks like.

“That’s something they can actually take a copy of, if they want, to their clinician or whoever their support is, if they’d like to share that as part of their care,” Friese said.

It’s available for free as a website or through an app available on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

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Friese hopes that accessibility appeals to people who may not actively seek out one-on-one counselling.

“We recognize that not everybody is going to specifically seek out counselling or take that first step to walk through that door to talk to maybe a peer support member… but they’d feel very comfortable perhaps in reaching out through the internet through a software platform like this to help themselves a little bit,” Friese said.

“It just helps to give an extra entry point for support.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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