Working with the Director of MSU’s Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS), Dr. Mark Patishmock, I submitted a proposal to Trifecta for funds to conduct several focus groups with students. We are hoping to understand the barriers and facilitators of MSU students in downloading and using the My SSP app (more about the app below). We have recently been notified that we have been awarded this grant!
So, how did this collaboration start?
Earlier this year I attended the State of Spartan Health presentation, at the Broad Museum. This is a presentation of MSU’s data from the National College Health Assessment. It is a questionnaire that is conducted every two years, and started in 2000. It covers many health-related topics including, but not limited to, sexual behaviors, exercise, alcohol-tobacco-drug behavior, and emotional and mental health of our current students. I was horrified by the percentages of students that are depressed and have considered self-harm. According to the data presented, an alarming 117 undergraduate students (0.3 percent) attempted suicide in the past two weeks. In addition, 1.5 percent of undergraduate students reported seriously considering committing suicide in the past two weeks.
I was talking to a colleague—who knew of my mHealth related research—about this data. She told me that CAPS had recently launched an mHealth app to help our students, My SSP. My SSP is a mobile app that provides free and confidential counseling by chat or phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
My SSP (My Student Support Program) is available for all students to help them in their mental and emotional issues and concerns.
CAPS is working hard to promote My SSP, and this collaboration is just one small part of their work. For this study, we are planning on conducting several focus groups around campus with approximately 100 students to figure out their motivations in downloading and using health app, perceptions of using a mental health app, and the best way to reach students to tell them about the app and have them download it.
This project is a preliminary step in understanding how a mobile app for mental health may help students at MSU. I hope this work can help encourage MSU students to download and use the app, and ultimately, receive the help and support they need.
If you are a MSU student in need of some help, you can download the app by going here.
If you feel like you, a friend, or a loved one might be in distress, you can reach the free and confidential Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or can chat online here.