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Thursday September 29th

Android app sets sights on aiding mental wellness

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By Jennifer Goetz
Nation & World Editor

Not everyone is open to sharing their feelings, but senior interactive multimedia major Niveda Harishankar has created an app that will make it easier for students to express themselves.

The new TCNJ Wellness app, released in early January, directly connects students with resources and information to help them feel better. It even has the potential to save lives.

The app is designed to help students cope with emotional stress, depression and more. It aims to easily connect students to campus resources so that they always have a place to turn.

According to TCNJ Today, Harishankar is a recipient of the Andy and Maria Polansky Scholarship Endowment, which provides fellowship awards to students who have shown model leadership and a “commitment to enriching the community by applying their talent and skills in communication, media and technology.” She was given a $1,000 scholarship to attend the HOW Design Live conference in Chicago that introduced her to other designers and helped her pursue this project, according to the same article.

She got the idea for the TCNJ Wellness app in her mobile computing class when thinking of a final project, and now that project has manifested into an app currently available for Android devices.

The app features four different tabs.

“One section is all about quotes, which is linked to a Twitter page called (@TcnjWellness),” according to Harishankar, who created the Twitter page.

Quotes with pictures are uploaded to provide a little pick-me-up for those checking the app. The Twitter page, which someone else from the College will take over after Harishankar leaves, also provides a way for the College to directly connect with students.

The video tab contains videos of TED Talks, as one of the goals for the app is “uplifting video repository,” Harishankar said. She explained that the College is also able to add videos to the app.

Another part of the app is the mood tracker, “so you can keep an ongoing track of the way you feel,” Harishankar said.

App users can add what they’re feeling, why they’re feeling that way and then rate their mood, Harishankar said. People can also look back on all the different moods they’ve experienced since the last time they added a mood, according to Harishankar.

It provides data points that display how a person’s mood has shifted over time. Not everyone is open about his or her underlying feelings, so this app provides a way for students to express themselves and track their moods without having to speak with someone face-to-face.

The app also includes a strategies checklist, or things to do to keep one’s spirit up. This section is devoted to actionable steps, like keeping a gratitude journal — a way to keep track of things you have for which to be thankful — or meditating, according to Harishankar.

The app also directly connects students to resources, such as the number to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline and other hotlines aimed at providing assistance to students if they need it.

“When you’re feeling vulnerable, you want to reach out to someone,” Harishankar said. “If there’s no light to show you the way, then you might not do it.”

The app was inspired by a classmate of Harishankar’s who died by suicide a few years ago.

“You feel the loss of a person,” Harishankar said. “It was really impactful to me and I thought maybe I could take some of those principles and make it concrete and address a real problem that’s on campus.”

Harishankar hopes to see the College and future interactive multimedia majors expand on what she has started.


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