'Nowhere to turn': Saskatoon girl creates mental health app for bully victims

A Saskatoon girl has created an app that helps young people deal with mental health challenges associated with bullying.

Kelli Lemstra created the app after years of being bullied

The app includes eight self-help modules that have information and advice on dealing with things like anxiety and depression. (CBC News)

Kelli Lemstra says she was bullied so severely she considered suicide. Now she's trying to make a difference for other bullying victims.

"I did want to kill myself in Grade 7 and 8," she said on CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning. "It was really, really hard for me to deal with."

The 16-year-old has created an app called The Daily Difference. It serves as a resource for young people trying to cope with bullying and mental health challenges.

The app

Lemstra said she got the idea after years of constant bullying.

After getting her dad to pick her up from school early one day, she decided she needed to do something.

"I just remember saying 'I can't go on like this. I need to do something about it,' " she said.

"I wanted to create a safe and convenient place where people my age could just download the app and have help for free."

The app took about a year to develop with the help of a Saskatoon-based developer.

It includes eight self-help modules that have information and advice on dealing with things like anxiety and depression.

It also has a section that allows users to send a text message to a pediatrician or psychologist asking them a question about mental health.

'Nowhere no turn'

Lemstra said the bullying started in elementary school.

She said she experienced continual harassment for several years, including cyberbullying, phone calls and text messages from people telling her to kill herself. She thought about succumbing to the harassment.

She said she tried switching schools, but it didn't help as the bullying followed her online.

"It was hard because there was nowhere to turn," said Mark Lemstra, Kelli's father.

Kellie Lemstra wants to help other people experiencing bullying through the app and sharing her story. (Submitted by Mark Lemstra)

Kelli said she felt helpless, especially at school.

"I found that I didn't have anyone in my school that I could talk to," she said.

She said more resources at school, including additional counselling options, would have helped her.

'The bully doesn't have power over you'

Things got better for Kelli as she learned how to respond and cope with bullying. 

She said she has cut off contact with people she went to elementary school with while ignoring hurtful comments and text message she still receives. She also blocks people on social media when necessary.

Now she wants to share her story and app to help others experiencing bullying.

"The bully doesn't have power over you," she said.

"You define yourself, not the bully."

Meanwhile, Mark recommends getting police involved as soon as possible. 

Mark said he noticed an immediate change once telling people he was considering going to police. 

"Don't wait for five years, don't wait for your kid to be thinking about killing themselves," he said.

With files from CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning