Mental health charity MIND has launched a mobile app to help students at university through the use of emojis.
The app, called Emoodji, is designed to help students cope with the ups and downs of university life and aims to tackle the multiple pressures students can face.
These pressures include admitting they are struggling and difficulty in accessing support services.
Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: “University is a time of huge change and with it comes both highs and lows.
“Mind have developed Emoodji to make sure that, regardless of whether students are feeling good or feeling the pressure, they have a way of coping with their feelings and emotional wellbeing.”
The free app has been developed closely with students.
When developing Emoodji, Mind also identified that the social pressure of Facebook and other social networking sites were having a big impact on student wellbeing, creating an environment where it is not ok to not be ok.
A survey, by the Samaritans, called Talk to Us, suggested that over half of students don’t feel comfortable admitting they’re struggling to cope.
The application was developed to address this issue.
‘Emoodjis’ are selfies or photos with an emoji applied onto them to reflect your mood.
The application allows you to only send emoodjis to people you trust, keeping a private environment that allows people to express both their highs and lows, rather than sharing with everyone.
Over time, Emoodji also acts as a mood tracker, helping students see how it has fluctuated based on whether the emojis they have chosen have been positive or negative.
According to Universities UK’s mental well-being working group’s ‘Good practice guide’, it is estimated that student counselling services are facing an annual rise in demand of about 10%, suggesting that ever-increasing numbers of students are in need of support.
To address this gap in services, the app also provides tips on how to cope with the most challenging aspects of student life, including money problems, exam stress, homesickness and low mood.
Abi Fullerton, Student Support Manager for the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media at the University of Sunderland, said: “I hadn’t heard of the Emoodji app before.
“It’s difficult to say how effective it would be without seeing it in practice, and it probably wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea.
“However, if it helps someone to think and reflect on their own mood at different times, and maybe recognise when they need a some support, then it looks like an easy way to reach out and hopefully start a conversation.
“I wouldn’t solely recommend it for people who are seriously struggling with their mental health as there are professional services, such as our student support services, which would be more appropriate.
“That said if receiving a concerning emoodji prompts a conversation of “are you ok, do you want to talk?” then that is a step in the right direction.
Emoodji is free to download and can be found on both the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store, as well as here.
Two SR News contributors – Bethany Jane Elsey and Christopher Larmouth will be using this app for a week in the near future to track their mood.
Washington and Sunderland MIND branches have been contacted for comment.