The success of an app that aims to help Lakeland students with mental health issues has led to its use by 13 other regional colleges and universities.
The schools adopting the app are Antioch College, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland State University, Cuyahoga Community College, Columbus State Community College, Cleveland Institute of Music, University of Cincinnati, Lorain County Community College, Mount Union, Otterbein University, Sinclair Community College, Stark State Community College and Ursuline College.
According to officials, each school has customized and adapted the app for its own use.
In 2016, Lakeland launched the “Reach Out” app, intended to be used by anyone prepared to help a friend — not exclusively for students with mental health issues.
“I like to say that the app is for suicide prevention and mental health promotion,” said Lakeland campus psychologist Ken Browner, who spearheaded the creation of the app. “It is designed to connect people with potentially life-saving resources and information, and to provide guidance to anyone who may be concerned about a friend or loved one.”
The app was originally funded by the Lakeland Foundation and the Ohio Program on Campus Safety and Mental Health, in collaboration with the Lake County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board.
Browner reached out to Joe Kozlevcar, professor of information technology and computer science, for recommendations on developers who might be able to lend their expertise and be a part of the project to build the app — two former students came highly recommended.
Jason Osher and Brian Eaton both took mobile app programming classes taught by Kozlevcar and subsequently earned several information systems certificates from Lakeland.
Osher continues to work on customizing the app for other colleges.
In 2017, Lakeland began a partnership with Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation, which provided an additional $26,000 in funding through its federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Garrett Lee Smith Campus Suicide Prevention Grant.
Some of the funding was used to hire an outside programmer to assist with the growing project.
For Lakeland users, the Reach Out app was downloaded 1,333 times since its launch, according to officials. As the novel coronavirus pandemic progressed last year, app usage increased.
From Jan. 1 through Sept. 30, the educational suicide prevention information was accessed 893 times by 328 distinct users; crisis hotlines and textlines were accessed 413 times by 148 distinct users; and campus-specific resources and information were accessed 480 times by 218 distinct users.
For all colleges utilizing the app, lifetime downloads numbered 6,143. However, as the first summer classes held during a pandemic went into session, the app was downloaded 784 times from July to Sept. 2020, signifying the need for mental health assistance, Lakeland reports.
Additionally, over the lifetime of all college apps, educational suicide prevention information was accessed 9,278 times by 3,588 distinct users; crisis hotlines and textlines were accessed 3,852 times by 1,750 distinct users; and campus-specific resources and information was accessed 4,798 times by 2,156 distinct users.
Lakeland’s app may be found by searching for “Reach Out Lakeland.”
The college continues to contract with individual colleges seeking to customize the app.
Three customization projects are currently underway, the school confirmed.