Moncton’s Allysa Richard has been suffering from chronic anxiety since she was 7 years old.
“That was a very scary time for me, not understanding what was happening to me,” said Richard.
She’s now 27-year-old and learning to manage her anxiety using a newly developed Canadian app called Moodie.
“It puts the control and power in my own hands, meaning I can visually see how I am feeling,” said Richard.
The app was developed by Moncton’s Richard Wilson, who worked as youth worker at the John Howard Society in Moncton.
“What it does, it helps track your mood but it also helps change your mood,” said Wilson.
He said 75 to 80 per cent of youth he’s worked with has faced barriers in accessing mental health care, such as some didn’t know where to turn, faced long waiting lists or struggled to express their emotions.
Unlike other apps that help people track their moods, Moodie also prompts users to take action by using cognitive behavioral therapy techniques.
“I go in the app and I click I am in a sad mood and what the app does is, it asks you to action that by giving you a mission,” said Wilson. “Like engaging in deep breathing or physical exercise to change the mindset.”
Wilson said it can also ask you to walk for five minutes, which the app will track and show how far the user goes. It will later ask the user how they feel after the mission or activity is done.
“Thinking about what I did brought me out of that funk and really acknowledging how I was feeling” said Richard who has been using the app daily to manage her anxiety.
Senior Counseling Therapist Danielle Whalen with Altantic Wellness in Moncton consulted with Wilson in the development stages of the app. She said using technology to connect with use is very effective.
“It’s on their wrist or it’s on their phones and they can access it at any time and in the moment they can record what is going on for them,” said Whalen who believes it’s also making it a useful tools for therapists.
The app is still a prototype and in the testing stage. So far, it has 5,000 users globally and 500 in Canada and will be offered for free to youth ages 13-21.
But Richard said it’s still not a replacement for reaching out to therapists for help.
“If you keep it trapped in your head and don’t tell anybody you are only hurting yourself.”