Project håp is providing peer-supported mental health services for students
Jesus Trujillo Gomez
Strategic Business Executive, Google Cloud
Project håp provides peer-supported mental health services to students
Student mental health is an important topic for institutions and the pandemic made this even more paramount. According to a recent CDC study, the less connected a student is to individuals at their schools, the more likely they are to experience mental health challenges. However, these connections don’t need to be solely physical to be beneficial. Learners experience similar mental health benefits from connections in the digital world too.
The CDC study has captured the effect that the sudden shift to online schooling caused by the pandemic has had on students. Nearly half of students surveyed "experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness" in 2021. To help alleviate this, the study recommends that institutions implement school-wide programs around social and emotional learning. This can be challenging. Many schools, especially in higher education, need a digital way to engage with their remote learners. Program costs can also be prohibitive for schools with tight budgets. Google Cloud’s Student Success Services is a set of solutions that can help institutions tackle these challenges. Google Public Sector works with technology partners whose extensive experience in mental health and education enables them to create apps that can result in meaningful change for the learners they serve.
Digital apps that support student mental health
Meeting learners where they are can make a huge difference, and new digital well-being apps are helping make that connection. håp is one of these apps. Created by Flourish Labs, Project håp helps students track and understand their mental health, while maintaining a strong connection with their peers for support. To help users remain connected with their support networks, the app offers a feature called a “håp signal” where students can invite family and friends to be part of their support network. When a student feels that they could use support, they can send customized text messages directly from the app to members of their support team, with a simple push of a button. The håp signal feature was designed with students, for students.
The app also gives students a place to check-in daily and record factors that affect their mental health, including mood, motivation, sleep, and focus. Over time, it compiles this data into reports that give learners insight into what affects their mental health. All data is kept private and secure leveraging Google Cloud Services, and users have full control over their data. The goal is to help learners create emotional self-awareness, empowering them to have more control over their well being.
Humans are not very good at self-assessing and tracking these data points over time; technology can help here. håp combines short self-reflections that we call "Check-ins" with sleep data from wearables to help our members track their own mental health and wellbeing
Obi Felten, CEO, Flourish Labs
Bringing crucial human connection to digital mental health solutions
As powerful as this data can be for each user, Felten believes that you can't create an effective mental health tool without including a human touch. The CDC mental health study concluded, "Comprehensive strategies that improve feelings of connectedness with others in the family, in the community, and at school might foster improved mental health among youths during and after the COVID-19 pandemic."
håp is creating this crucial connectedness in several ways. The “håp signal” makes it easier for users to reach out to their personalized community of support. For students who are in crisis, håp offers one-tap access to free 24/7 crisis counseling from Crisis Text Line. The håp app is freely available to students over 16 years of age.
For institutions who have deployed the Google Cloud learning platform, Flourish Labs will offer a peer supporter skill program, which the institution may make available to their students. This program provides a valuable leadership experience to students, enables them to safely support their community, and can lead to a work-study job as a peer support specialist facilitated and supervised by Flourish Labs.