Buddy gives boost to mental health

Island Health reveals upgraded app for at-risk youth

  • Jun. 8, 2017 4:30 p.m.

Island Health has announced BoosterBuddy, a mobile app for youth dealing with mental health challenges, has been updated to improve the game experience, through a funding partnership with Coast Capital Savings. Users will now be able to check in multiple times per day, schedule repeating to-dos in the calendar, and participate in enhanced quests.

“Young people are more likely to experience mental illness than other age groups, and less likely to get treatment,” said Lauren Fox, Island Health Clinical Lead for BoosterBuddy. “With continued support from Coast Capital, we have improved the app to help young people manage their mental health.”

Youth aged 15 to 24 years dealing with mental health concerns can use BoosterBuddy to check in with their feelings, keep track of appointments and medications, use coping skills, and follow self-care routines. Users choose an animated ‘buddy’ who helps them through the day. The app was developed with a design team that included youth who have experiences with psychosis, anxiety, depression and other mental health challenges.

“Having basically a cartoon character that’s smiling and fun and bright puts me in a good mood and for me it’s been a positive experience,” said Isabel Steinberg, a university student from Victoria who uses the app. “And I think it also de-stigmatizes these things because playing on your iPhone looks normal.”

By 40 years of age, one in two Canadians have or have had a mental illness. The first episode usually occurs in teens or young adults, and can have lifelong negative consequences. However, many mental health challenges can be treated successfully when symptoms are recognized early.

BoosterBuddy was initially funded by Coast Capital Savings through the Victoria Hospitals Foundation and created in partnership with Island Health. The most recent gift from Coast Capital allowed developers to build on the positive feedback from both app users and mental health professionals.

“At Coast Capital Savings, our community activities support youth, and we understand the importance of supporting initiatives like Booster Buddy through our Youth Get It Community Investment Program,” said Wendy Lachance, Director, Community Leadership at Coast Capital Savings. “By supporting version 2 of Booster Buddy, we are able to help youth get access to services and support to help them manage stress, anxiety and depression. It’s gratifying to see how this ground-breaking app helps youth, both in our communities and further afield.”

Since its release in September 2014, BoosterBuddy has been installed over 130,000 times, primarily in the United States and Canada, and has been downloaded across the globe. It is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

Download the app on the App Store and Google Play. For more information, visit www.viha.ca/boosterbuddy.

— Submitted by Island Health

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