Ohio State wellness app puts tools, resources in student hands
University-created app was developed by students, faculty and staff
Ohio State students need look no further than their mobile devices to find a new online tool provided by the university that’s designed to support their well-being.
A wellness app is available to download on all iOS devices and is popping up on all Digital Flagship iPads later today. The “Ohio State: Wellness” app was developed by students, faculty and staff following recommendations from the university’s Suicide and Mental Health Task Force.
Anyone with an Apple device running iOS 13 or higher may download the app for free by searching for “Ohio State: Wellness” in the App Store. All Digital Flagship iPads will download this app automatically when connected to Wi-Fi. This semester, the university’s app development team also will add features from the app to the existing Ohio State app for Android and iOS.
“I think it’s a huge opportunity to get this in front of students,” said Liv Gjestvang, associate vice president for learning technology.
Undergraduate Student Government (USG) member Alek Kundla, a second-year in computer science and engineering, said students were part of the development of the app from start to finish. Their user experiences were incorporated to make sure student needs were met from design to ease of use to quality of content.
“It’s been great to see how receptive everyone’s been to student feedback and to getting the student perspective on this application,” Kundla said. “That it’s useful to students who are both trying to build and maintain long-term wellness and to students who have more acute wellness concerns means that it does reduce the stigma that might come from using this app, which is what we want.”
The wellness app is organized into sections to help students locate useful resources:
- “Explore” helps students find articles and information focused on student wellness.
- “Support” offers resources for recovery and proactive wellness.
- “My Wellness” enables tracking to support wellness goals.
- “Crisis” offers directions for quickly accessing support. This feature is also currently available as “I’m Experiencing an Emergency or Crisis” in the About You tab on the Ohio State app.
Gjestvang said the Digital Flagship initiative allowed Ohio State to put this tool into the hands of about 23,000 iPad users while making it easily available to everyone else.
Developing the app was a cross-institutional partnership between the Office of Distance Education and eLearning, Office of the Chief Information Officer, Suicide and Mental Health Task Force, Office of Student Life’s Counseling and Consultation Service and Student Wellness Center, Office of Institutional Equity, USG, the university’s Suicide Prevention Program, Regional campus mental health services, Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
That diverse partnership allows for students to find accurate medical and wellness information in one place.
“We go to apps and use our digital resources for information when we know that information is relevant and that it needs to be constantly updated,” Gjestvang said. “It was interesting to see how much information there is about the kinds of challenges that students face at any given time of the semester. To be able to pull some of that information and to make sure that the right content is being featured at different times of the term was helpful.”
Last year, as part of the university’s partnership with Apple, an Ohio State team spent three days at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California, to jumpstart the creation of the app. That team then completed the app in-house, building on the concepts developed during those meetings.
“Digital Flagship has been, from the beginning, an initiative that’s not just about student academic success. It really has been designed to help support the whole student,” Gjestvang said. “So being able to have this resource that is specifically designed to help connect students with each other and with resources to support their wellness is something we’re really excited about.”