The University of New Hampshire’s (UNH) Psychological and Counseling Services (PACS), in correspondence with Health and Wellness, released a new tool for people in the UNH community who suffer from moderate depression, stress, and anxiety. During this uncertain time, many are experiencing at least one of these mental health struggles, and WellTrack helps monitor and teach users management techniques.
Any person who has a UNH email address – students, faculty, staff, and alumni – has access to WellTrack free of charge through the PACS website or the WellTrack app. As a 24/7 tool, it is accessible whenever mental health support is needed, which is something counselors alone cannot offer. WellTrack is not intended to replace counseling, but rather to be extra support when a person may need it.
“We did about 4 or 5 demos and WellTrack seemed to be more user friendly, more dynamic, and more interactive,” said Dr. Shari Robinson, the director of PACS. “It is based on cognitive behavior therapy, which is considered to be an evidence-based therapy to treat depression and anxiety. That is helpful because it has the science behind it.”
The program itself is very user-friendly and easy to navigate. Users begin with a 27-question quiz which evaluates their levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. The program then leads the user to begin courses that teach them how to manage each of these mental health struggles. There is a series of courses/videos for each week. The reasoning behind this is for the user to practice the skill taught that week, build on it and then evaluate how it helped and affected them. The program also checks in with the user through “Mood Checks,” which are quick evaluations of how they are feeling in that moment. Users have the option at the end of the mood check to journal and explain their feelings, but this is not required. The program graphs their moods and the user can look at how they’ve been feeling through the chart.
One of the app’s features is the zen room, where the user can select a scene and the type of meditation they would like to engage in. It is easy to follow along with and allows the user to select the volume they would like the background noise to be and the volume of the speaker guiding the meditation.
“If students are having complications with WellTrack or they want to give us feedback, PACS has a generic email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, it is right on our website,” said Robinson. “We ask for feedback.”
Because of the pandemic, many are struggling with their mental health. It is important to ask for help when needed and to use the resources that are available. WellTrack is just one of these resources. It’s not a tool that has to be used every day, but can be. The unique features help offer support when a user feels that they need some extra guidance.
“I want to challenge students to try it out,” Robinson said. “We’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback. We want the student’s participation. We want the student’s engagement. We are here to help and support our students. There seems to be a disconnect with students saying they need the help, but not reaching out.”