New smartphone app encourages students to be more streetwise about mental and sexual health
A new NHS-certified smartphone app is encouraging students to become more streetwise about mental and sexual health, as well as issues around drugs and alcohol.
Three years in the making and developed by an experienced GP, experts from Bristol University, students, and NHS health professionals, ESC Student allows young people to get answers to common health questions within seconds – and even without the need for an Internet connection.
From first-aid and emergencies to common ailments, physical symptoms, long-term health problems, and tips on staying safe at university, young people are also offered reassurance on a wide-range of other issues commonly associated with students.
The mental health section, for instance, allows users to find out what to do when they, or one of their friends, feels low, anxious, or self-harms, as well as what to do when they are worried about the effects of drinking too much alcohol.
Academics and student leaders will, no doubt, welcome the app’s arrival, seeing as it’s come at a time when student mental health has been under intense scrutiny.
According to recent ONS figures, the number of student suicides across England and Wales have soared to their highest level since 2007, from 75 to 130, with rates significantly higher among males.
A Northern Irish academic also warned at a recent wellbeing conference that students’ lives today are “fraught with loneliness and anxiety.”
Ulster University’s Professor Siobhan O’Neill described how young people who die by suicide are “somewhat different” from older age groups, and explained: “Over half will have had a prior attempt; around 64 per cent of males will have used alcohol at the time of death, and a third of females who die by suicide are students.
“Without proper support, damaging patterns of stress management behaviours can take hold. Alcohol, drug abuse, and self-harm behaviours are incredibly common and powerfully addictive. There is lots of evidence these are illnesses that can be treated.”
Dr Dominique Thompson, director of the Students’ Health Service at the University of Bristol, said of ESC Student: “This app provides reliable, relevant health advice for young adults who want to look after themselves and use medical services wisely.”
ESC Student is free to download from the Apple App Store until 3 July. Thereafter, it’s 79p