University mental health challenge to study mood changes through app

Forget the mood ring — students at nine universities in Atlantic Canada will start tracking their moods this month as part of the Mood Check challenge in support of mental health.

Mood Check Challenge will track moods of students from March 14-25 at nine Atlantic universities

From March 14 to 25, participants at nine Atlantic universities will use an app twice a day to track what they're feeling, the activity they're taking part in, where they are and who they're with. (Summer Skyes 11/Flickr cc)

Forget the mood ring — students at nine universities in Atlantic Canada will start tracking their moods this month as part of the Mood Check Challenge in support of mental health. 

From March 14 to 25, participants will use an app twice a day to track what they're feeling, the activity they're taking part in, where they are and who they're with. 

At the University of New Brunswick, Matt MacLean is the new mental health strategist — a new, "really unique and kind of exciting role."

"There's really a need, just like this app, to do really innovative things that can support student mental health outside of that direct service role," MacLean told CBC's Information Morning Fredericton. 

How it works

Through the app, students select icons that look like emojis and fill out as much up-to-the-moment information as possible. The goal is to try and make people aware of the length of time between their different moods. 

"The key thing there is to try and show people, demonstrate to them, that there's link between what they do and their mood. And we actually hope that's really empowering," MacLean said. 

The more a student uses the app, the more points they get. The university with the most points will receive a $1,500 donation for a campus mental health initiative.

The app is part of a larger program called WellTrack, developed by Dr. Darren Piercey, a psychology professor at the University of New Brunswick. 

The program provides students with a number of online tools and resources aimed at helping them manage stress, anxiety, depression and phobias. 

'Enlightening' information

But does it really take an app for people to understand the connection between what they're doing and how they're feeling? 

"You know, it may not. This is just sort of one of the ways that you know, we come at it from all different sides to try and have the greatest impact as possible," MacLean said.

"But I think for some people, it might actually really kind of be enlightening." 

The challenge will be launched on Tuesday. From UNB's cafeteria, MacLean will attempt to raise awareness and encourage students to participate. 

Acadia University, Dalhousie University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Mount Allison University, Mount Saint Vincent University, St. Thomas University, University of King¹s College, University of New Brunswick and University of Prince Edward Island will take part in the challenge. 


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