Health

Teen Siblings Create App For People Struggling With Mental Health

At the press of a button, users can let loved ones know they are 'Not OK.'

Two teenage siblings from Georgia have created an app designed to help people when they’re feeling a bit overwhelmed.

Last year, 15-year-old Hannah Lucas was diagnosed with a medical condition called postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), which caused her to frequently faint.

The episodes brought on by her condition left Hannah afraid to be alone. She became anxious and depressed and even began to engage in self-harm, according to ABC News.

Together with her 13-year-old brother Charlie, Hannah developed an app called notOK that would help others in a similar situation to feel less alone.

Charlie, who learned coding skills in summer camp, was able to put his technical knowledge to use in co-creating the app.

“I helped illustrate it out so he would know what to do,” Hannah told ABC News. “He looked at my drawings and he coded it to tell the coders exactly what I wanted and how I wanted it to look.”

The notOK App allows users to simply press a button that will send a text message to up to five preselected contacts to let them know the user is struggling at the moment.

The automated message reads, “Hey, I’m not OK. Please call me, text me, or come find me.” It also gives the recipient the user’s GPS location.

Hannah, a sophomore in high school, pitched the app while taking a summer entrepreneurship class at Georgia Tech.

She was connected with a development company in Savannah that helped her bring her dream to life.

Hannah hopes that the app will be the driving force behind a larger movement around mental health issues.

“My goal is to make it a movement like the #MeToo movement,” she told Black Enterprise. “I want other people who are going through what I’m going through to not feel alone. To know that it’s OK not to be OK.”

notOK app

The app is available for both Android and iOS devices and carries a $2.99 monthly fee.

Congratulations to the these enterprising teens for putting technology to work for such a good cause!

Anxiety Myths

There are tons of myths and misconceptions about anxiety. Below are a few common myths — busted.

Myth: People With Anxiety Disorders Are Weak

Have you ever heard someone tell a person who was struggling with anxiety to “just get over it”? Advice like that implies the person’s ability to cope is weak and that they just need to stop being afraid. Unfortunately, that’s not true, and can make people avoid dealing with serious issues.

“Many people think that having this disorder means that they’re fearful or weak—and that’s certainly not the case,” Joseph Bienvenu, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University, told HuffPost.

In reality, anxiety and panic disorders may show signs of fear, but that is simply a symptom of a bigger problem that needs to be addressed.

Myth: Anxiety Disorders Are Not Common

In truth, anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental illness in the U.S. according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Nearly 40 million people who are 18 years or older—about 18 percent of the U.S. population—struggle with anxiety disorders every year.

Myth: There’s Always A Reason For Anxiety

One of the most frustrating things for people who struggle with significant anxiety is that they can’t give a reason for their feelings. So when they’re asked, “What’s wrong?” and they can’t give an answer, they aren’t being evasive or avoiding the subject. They actually may not know the source of their anxiety.

“Anxiety disorders are, by definition, irrational,” Simon Rego, Director of Psychology Training at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York told BuzzFeed.

Myth: It’s Easy To Spot Someone With An Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety disorders are tricky to spot. Many times, we think we can identify someone who is suffering from serious anxiety because they appear “stressed out” or agitated. In actuality, the person who appears calm, quiet or shy can be the one dealing with an anxiety disorder. Remember, you can’t judge a book by its cover.

Adobe

Myth: Being Anxious Means You Are Mentally Ill

Anxiety, in the general sense, means having an “apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill,” according to Merriam-Webster. In other words, it’s feeling worried about something that may or may not happen.

Everyone, on some level, experiences anxiety in their lives. However, there is a major difference between having some anxiety and having a mental illness.

“It’s important to note that all of us can feel—and look—anxious from time to time, and in certain situations even the most calm of people can be triggered to feel anxious,” Simon Rego, Psy.D., director of psychology training at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York told BuzzFeed Life. “That does not mean they have an anxiety disorder.”

So what’s the difference between having feelings of anxiousness and having an anxiety disorder? The bottom line: An anxiety disorder has symptoms that get worse and do not go away over time.

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