The coronavirus crisis and the fear, stress and uncertainty it causes have made maintaining mental health a challenge for many people. Luckily, the Indiana University Bloomington community now has access to a resource that can help them understand their mental health and arm them with tools to address difficulties.
WellTrack, a mobile app free to the IU community, offers a suite of online tools and courses that use aspects of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help users manage mental well-being. The information shared via the app is completely confidential and will not be associated with any user's clinical charts or academic records. Faculty and staff can use the app themselves or recommend the resource to students experiencing stress and anxiety.
Students can decide whether to share their information with a counselor from IU's Counseling and Psychological Services, known as CAPS, if they are already receiving services through the IU Health Center. But regardless of whether they share their information, the app can help supplement and support work done during virtual appointments, said Luciana Guardini, CAPS counselor and outreach coordinator.
Guardini said WellTrack offers tools that correspond to exercises she already recommends to students. For example, students can track their mood with the MoodCheck tool or use the Mood Indicator tool to identify patterns in their behavior and emotional reactions.
Other tools offered through the app include:
- Zen Room: Practice guided relaxation or self-relaxation in a customized relaxation room.
- Activity Scheduler: Schedule leisure, social and achievement activities.
- Fun and Achievement Tracker: After completing scheduled activities, understand how they can boost or decrease your feelings of happiness, fun and achievement.
- Calendar: View scheduled activities.
- Cognitive Distortions Quiz: Use this quiz to understand the seven types of unhelpful thinking styles.
- Thought Diary: Identify real-life examples of unhelpful thinking styles and learn how to adapt thinking in these types of situations.
- Mood Heatmap: See MoodCheck entries displayed on a scatter graph.
- Wellness Assessment: Track how levels of stress, anxiety and depression are changing during use of the app.
In addition to these tools and self-assessments, the app gathers on-campus resources for users who might be struggling with academics, addictions, finances, sexual violence, safety or physical health. WellTrack can also help users determine if they would benefit from seeing a therapist and can even be helpful for those who are not in therapy and have not been diagnosed with mental health issues.
"Not everyone needs therapy, but everyone can use these life skills to help increase well-being," Guardini said. "And for those who think they might benefit from these tools and self-assessments, there is no waiting list, no intake, no phone call and few barriers to access this app."
The app can be used from anywhere at any time and as often as needed. Videos and modules are also fully accessible for vision- and hearing-impaired users. Guardini said the fact that users can access the app from the safety of their own homes makes it especially useful during the pandemic.
"If there is an emotion that is very common right now, it is anxiety," Guardini said. "This app not only helps us understand anxiety, but it also provides tools and training on how to foster resiliency. With that combination, I think we can all make it through this challenge."