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University of Arizona creates app to provide mental health support during pandemic

See Me Serena University of Arizona App
Posted at 6:43 AM, Feb 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-01 08:43:42-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN)  — The University of Arizona wanted to make mental health resources easily accessible, so they found a way to provide them through your phone.

"We decided we had all the relevant expertise to come together and develop this really interesting and novel app," said University of Arizona College of Nursing Professor and Associate Dean for Research, Dr. Judith Gordon.

The app is called "See Me Serene." It's the pandemic passion project of professors and students at the University of Arizona.

"We started thinking about ways that we could come together as a team to help people deal with the stay-at-home orders, social isolation and the stress that people were feeling," said Gordon.

The app is made to help you escape. It is free for everyone on the Apple App and Google Play Stores and was funded entirely by the University of Arizona. Users can pick from over 40 settings and enjoy a guided meditation.

"The idea is, through soft voice, we explain to them, and immerse them, into an imaginary situation. We want to provide them with surroundings and relaxation," said University of Arizona Computer Science Department Associate Professor, Chris Gniady.

Thaddeus Pace, a psychology associate professor at the University of Arizona, started collecting data from 100 users to see if the app really works.

"We had folks collect saliva at home in the morning, when they first woke up, and again in the evening, before they went to bed. We're interested in seeing how cortisol changes over the course of the day," said Pace.

The team will be able to assess if the app had an effect on each user's cortisol levels, which are directly tied to stress.

"We get to combine our individual areas of expertise and create, in this case, a program that has an immediate impact on peoples' lives," said Gordon.

The team behind the app plans to release the data from their research in the coming weeks.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, counselors are available 24/7 at the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255.