Walking out of Elliott Hall of Music after an exam, a student might slide their phone out of their back pocket with shaky hands. Realizing they can’t handle their feelings without help, they might tap into the WellTrack app to input how they feel.
Within the app, they could take a stress and anxiety learning module to help understand how to cope and get help in the moment.
WellTrack is a tool, accessible on a phone application or online, that has been provided by Purdue Counseling and Psychological Services since 2018. The software’s purpose is to help students cope by allowing them to cite and track their feelings in an organized way similar to therapeutic methods.
Malorie Demo, a freshman in the College of Liberal Arts and one of many student users of WellTrack, finds that having therapy so readily accessible is a nice tool for when situations arise unexpectedly.
“It is nice to have help in my pocket,” Demo said.
The app is also versatile when it comes to the help that it offers.
“You can pick it up at different points in the day for whatever needs you have,” said Susan Prieto-Welch, the director of Counseling and Psychological Services at Purdue. “Depending on what you need, whether that is a continuance of help or a boost, the app gives the student an on-the-spot tool for help.”
Darren Piercey, CEO and co-founder of the app, said WellTrack provides the user with psychological education by describing the causes of a particular issue, such as anxiety and how to treat it.
“With face-to-face therapy, the important component of getting better is doing your homework,” Piercey said. “By allowing students to do their mental health homework on their smartphones, it increases the likelihood that they will do their homework, because it is easily accessible."
Piercey said even though it is not a face-to-face session, computerized therapy is shown to be just as effective.
“In many cases, the app is as effective as therapy,” Piercey said. “There are hundreds of published articles that show that computerized (cognitive behavioral therapy) is effective for many psychological issues.”
Prieto-Welch said CAPS wanted to get involved with WellTrack because it helps students in conjunction with therapy or as a stand-alone tool.
Since WellTrack's launch, Piercey said about 10% of Purdue students use the app, and collectively the app has over four million users.
Students using the app may question the security of their information.
“I personally feel like my information is safe,” Demo said. “I feel like this app cares more about helping people as opposed to other apps.”
WellTrack was vetted through Information Technology at Purdue's security team before being offered to students, according to the CAPS webpage.
The app does not disclose information to CAPS without the user’s consent.
“I get some basic data of how many people have signed up,” Prieto-Welch said. “I can only get the information that students input if they decide to share that with me in our sessions.”
Having an app to help manage mental health has changed how traditional therapy works, Prieto-Welch said.
“Students are hungry for something that is more technology-based as an ongoing tool,” Prieto-Welch said. “It deepens the work for the (student) because they can do it on their own and have a new way to access help.”