Approximately one in five people (both adults and young) experience a mental health problem in the U.S. and Canada every year. For most young adults experiencing mental health issues, the symptoms usually start in childhood and persist in later years with devastating effects on health and productivity.
In order to improve their mental well-being, people who suffer from mental health problems are encouraged to try various self-management techniques, such as maintaining healthy habits, using coping skills, adhering to treatment, engaging in real-life activities or trying various relaxation techniques for anxiety, which can all help managing less severe cases.
However, doing these tasks every day can be hard, especially for those who struggle with mental health problems. Low mood, lack of motivation or enjoyment to plan and organize things and activities, can make it difficult for young people who suffer from depression or anxiety to engage in these activities needed to improve their problem.
Knowing that a large percentage of youth is looking for mental health information online with mobile devices, means that numerous mobile apps can be helpful in improving their mental well-being. Especially, if those apps use gamification techniques to achieve that goal.
Island Health, a Canada-based company, developed BoosterBuddy, a free app for Android and iPhone designed to help teens and young adults with depression, anxiety, psychosis and other mental health problems improve their mental health in a game-like form.
BoosterBuddy app doesn't require registration, which is fine because youth dealing with such delicate problem may appreciate the anonymity. The app collects analytics tho, however, users may opt-out from this option.
Upon opening the app, you'd be asked to choose your buddy - a cartoon fox Flitz, raccoon Rasko or rabbit Mallow. Buddy will guide you through the app and you'd be able to check in daily (your mood and alcohol or drug use).
First, your Buddy will explain a couple of details about the app, explaining that it's not a substitute for a healthcare. Then, you'd be asked a couple of questions about your motivation, depression, anxiety, potential psychosis symptoms, etc. Answering these question would help Buddy tailor the app to your needs.
Basically, your Buddy is sleeping and your goal is to wake it up by completing quests and earning points for each level. For example, in Level 1 Quest 1 will require you to add emergency information, including emergency phone number and your hospital. Quest 2 will require you to add your coping statement that could help you get through a crisis, and in Quest 3 you'd be asked to add crisis contact, i.e. local support phone line, mental health professional, or your family member or a friend.
You'd wake your Buddy and earn 60 points you can use to buy various goodies and apparel for your Buddy, such as hats, glasses, belts, etc.
Once you've completed a level, you're done for that day and you'd be able to solve next level quests and to wake your Buddy the next day. While your interaction with your Buddy is limited once per day, your check-ins (moods and alcohol/substance use) are not.
BoosterBuddy app also includes reminder if you take medications or PRN for your condition. The app doesn't require the name of the medication you take, only the times per day.
This is basic reminder setting, but it would be better if users are able to add the name of their medication or at least its description (blue pill, yellow pill, etc.), which would be useful if they take more than one medication. This way, you'd be notified to take the pill, but you won't know which one.
Besides an interaction with your Buddy, you can view the current date in a day or month form, with tasks completed, medications, as well as the ability to add the event or check in your mood or alcohol/substance use again.
The Library section includes many helpful tips regarding initiation and motivation, oversleeping, lack of sleep, depression, mood too high, anxiety, voices, delusions, alcohol and drug use, and general wellness.
The information in this section is presented in a form of brief cards that emphasize the important instructions, questions, and steps required to cope with a particular problem. Each card can be added to the Favorites section for easier access. Users can also add and save their own coping methods.
Finally, BoosterBuddy app creates a crisis plan where users can access all information in one spot, including coping statement and methods, as well as crisis and emergency contacts.
Overall, BoosterBuddy is a solid and useful app for teens and young adults with mental health problems who want to improve their condition and well-being through game-like activities.
Benefit: Teens and adolescents with anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues may find this app useful