by Trent Sharpe
A new smartphone application believed to be the first of its kind has been released to monitor the mental health of Australians.
The “How is Australia Feeling?” app encourages men and women of all ages to record their emotions at least three times a day anonymously or through Facebook sharing.
The project was developed by Spur Projects, an organisation aimed at tackling the suicide of men in Australia, and will run during Mental Health Week.
The user is given choice of six options: ‘happy’, ‘sad’, ‘anxious’, ‘powerful’, ‘angry’ or ‘peaceful’, and can use this data to see how they have been feeling throughout the week.
If a user chooses either ‘sad’, ‘anxious’ or ‘angry’ more than once a pop-up will appear urging them to see a GP or health specialist.
The app maps how Australia is feeling as a whole, and is said to provide insight into the state of Australia’s mental health.
According to Beyond Blue, one million Australians suffer from depression and another two million from anxiety.
In a media release published two weeks ago, CEO and Co-Founder of Spur Projects Lee Crockford said that the majority of people with mental illness don’t seek help.
Mr Crockford hopes the project will encourage Australians to discuss their mental health more willingly.
The project aims to attract at least 50,000 people to record their emotions by the end of Mental Health Week.
Student Kyle Torres believes that the app can help raise awareness in Australia and pinpoint mental health issues in Australia based on age, gender, profession and location.
However he says that there is little awareness around the app itself as he believes few people want to share their emotions on social media.
“People might not wish to share their more negative feelings on Facebook,” Mr Torres said. “So those who see other people posting may not be getting the right message.”
Mr Torres said the right message was to make people feel more comfortable seeking assistance for mental illness.
Another user, Steven Hamam, said that for the first few days the app ran slow and was prone to crashing.
“It would be a really handy app if it worked properly for the whole week,” Mr Hamam said. “Since it hasn’t it might not yield the results the developers want.”
The survey runs between October 5-12 and is available on iOS and Android devices and online at: www.howisaustraliafeeling.com.