By Maristela Romero
The University of Maryland’s Counseling Center began advocating for the use of a new mobile app as a supplement for students to monitor their mental health this week.
The app is not a response to last spring’s #30DaysTooLate campaign, a movement started by the Scholars Promoting and Revitalizing Care (SPARC) in February, which called attention to improving the university’s counseling services, according to Counseling Center Director Sharon Kirkland-Gordon.
“This has been in the works for about a year now in terms of researching,” the director said.
The app, called WellTrack, functions as a self-help tool with which the user can track her mood and activities, as well as learn strategies for managing stress and anxiety on their own time.
“It’s appropriate for those experiencing mild distress,” said Kirkland-Gordon. “It’s not something that we would call a treatment regimen that one might find in therapy. But it’s certainly a first step for someone who may be kind of ambivalent about counseling…they might find that the tool is useful to them and it may even prompt them to seek professional help if needed.”
The Counseling Center cooperated with the SGA to test the WellTrack app and received feedback from some of its members and staff counselors before rolling it out as a new mental health resource for all students, Kirkland-Gordon said.
Since the app was introduced, many students remain unaware that it is now available at their fingertips.
Brian Shu, a sophomore computer science major, had not heard of WellTrack prior to being asked if he was familiar with the app. Co-president of SPARC, Kristen Brockett, was also unaware of its existence as a new mental health resource.
“I think it’s good that they’re coming up with other ways besides just one-on-one therapy to help students,” said Brockett, a senior government and politics major. “But I am concerned about how well they’ll promote it.”
Brockett emphasized that it is equally important for students to be aware of the resources they can use for their mental well-being, especially in light of the three student deaths that have already occurred just three weeks into the fall semester.
“Students need to know that the university has their back,” Brockett said. “And that would go a long way to building relationships and having more positive discussions about real issues that affect our campus.”
Senior accounting and marketing major Clinton Ikechi Ewenike, who was waiting for an appointment at the Counseling Center, had also never heard of WellTrack. However, he made use of the in-person counseling sessions after his initial experience with their services.
“I did enjoy the experience of opening up myself to another person and just talking about different things that are going on with me mentally and so I wanted to do it again this year,” Ewenike said.
Brockett said though the WellTrack app adds variety to the available resources, there is more to be done in terms of letting students know that these are accessible for students.
The mobile app is available for download from the Apple App Store and Google Play. Students have access to relaxation exercises and self-assessments by registering with their university email.