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U of R student designs app to improve access to mental health services

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WATCH: A University of Regina student designed an app to make the province’s mental health services more accessible – Feb 1, 2020

Wynn Fedorchuk is hoping to make help easier to find.

The 23-year-old University of Regina student designed the “Here to Help Saskatchewan” app to make mental health services in the province more accessible. He said he wanted the app to be a way for people to easily learn about and locate the services they need, and to find out what is required to access those services.

He said many people would try to access service only to learn they need a referral to do so, which would begin another search.

READ MORE: Ex-NHLer Clint Malarchuk talks suicide survival, mental health in Regina

“Saskatchewan government-run websites are very confusing, it’s hard to navigate through and I’m really not sure why it is that way, so I’m going to do my best to try and change that,” he told Global News.

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He had the idea for the app during a class. One of the assignments involved finding the services a hypothetical client of his may need.

“I realized that that search was actually very difficult. I had to find the right service and give them all the information they needed and that was very, very challenging,” he said.

READ MORE: Canadians willing to take new job for less pay if it means more mental health support: study

The class ended a year and a half ago and he’s been working on the project since then, finding time in between social work classes at the U of R’s satellite campus in Saskatoon.

He designed the app and has a demo version on his phone, but doesn’t have a working version yet. He can’t build and program an app himself, though he says he has spoken to a designer.

He said he only wants to start the project when he has the funding to keep app functioning and free. He doesn’t want the app to cost users any money. He’s looking for backers to develop it with that vision in mind.

READ MORE: Suicide is preventable, but experts say we need better data and more support

“I was raised in small town and there just aren’t a lot of mental health services out there, in the small areas,” he said.

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“I’ve seen the impacts that [poor access] can have.”

He mentioned the number of suicides in Saskatchewan as a reason why access to mental health services is important. Almost 130 people killed themselves in 2019, according to the Saskatchewan Coroners Service.

“Fundamentally, I believe that mental health is important,” he said.

“It’s something that’s not taken lightly but it’s just very important.”

 

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.

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If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse or is involved in an abusive situation, please visit the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime for help. They are also reachable toll-free at 1-877-232-2610.

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