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Stressbusters is an app released early last fall that plays stress-relieving audio and video, and is slowly gaining more attention.

Credit: Julio Sosa

Mental wellness? There’s an app for that.

Early in the fall semester, staff members at Counseling and Psychological Services contracted out the development of an app designed specifically for students to improve and maintain their mental health. The app is called Stressbusters, and though it’s a platform that around 20 different schools utilize, Penn’s version can be completely customized.

This also means there has to be staff on-hand to update and tweak the app, for which CAPS doesn’t always have the capability.

“Around here it gets pretty hectic,” CAPS Director Bill Alexander said. “[The app] is still growing. It’s nowhere near where it’s going to be.”

In November, Alexander said the app had been downloaded by around 200 people. Now, he said, the number has risen to “several hundred.” The app currently hosts stress-relieving audio and video, as well as a calendar displaying mental health-related events around campus.

His goal is to assemble a task force of students to get the word out about the app and make the content itself more robust. “I want this to be really looking good come NSO,” he said.

Most students approached for this article had never heard of the app. College freshman Indeara Cogdell hadn’t heard of it either, but she downloaded it on her Android phone before being interviewed.

“I think that it’s good if the only problem is that you need to relax or don’t know how to relax,” she said. However, she said that personally, it’s not really what she needs. “My stress comes from having too many things in a short amount of time. If I was really stressed out and had to add using the app, that doesn’t solve the problem that I still have 50 things to do and I don’t have time to do them all.”

Cogdell liked the content, however.

“If you are using the app and just want to listen to a relaxing video, you don’t have to go through a bunch to get it, you just have to click play,” she said. She added that she liked a section that quizzed you to find out your habits and made suggestions about ways to improve your mental health through your physical lifestyle.

“Making healthy choices with diet and exercise is a part of regulating stress too,” she said.

There was also a section that just played relaxing sounds — music and a waterfall, for instance. “I really like that,” she said. “Even if I need to relax while I do work I can still listen to that.”

She thinks the only way it would make a difference for a large number of people is if they actually took the time to build using the app into their schedules, and Cogdell fears they won’t.

“Honestly the biggest issue with myself and for a lot of people on Penn’s campus is that they have a lot to do — studying and work.” The app, she said, would just be one more thing.

“It is helpful. I think that the only issue would be making it so that taking the time out to do it is worth it,” she said. “There needs to be an incentive to take the time out to relax.”

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