Are emojis the future of mental health?
Sam Edom, from the Emoodji team, blogs about Mind's new app for students.
Emoodji, our brand new app for students, has already been downloaded over 3 thousand times and we’ve been blown away by the response we’ve had on social media. I just wanted to take this chance to explain a bit about why we’ve built this thing and how we hope it will help people.
Emoodji allows students to express how they feel using emoji selfies.
“The best years of your life.”
I joined Mind fresh from uni as a graduate trainee, so was very aware of the highs and lows that student life can include. Some people have an amazing time at uni, but for most it is a bit more complicated.
- Did you know?... 2 out of 3 students feel down at some point during their studies. (1)
Students today face so many threats to their wellbeing. With increased tuition fees, the pressure to achieve academically is stronger than ever before and it’s not good enough just to get good grades – students need to pack extra-curricular activities and work experience into their schedules. At the same time, they’re expected to have a vibrant social life, look after themselves often for the first time, and all on a tight student budget. Helen, a Mind blogger, sums it up:
"It’s tiring, you’re skint, usually you’re away from home and you’re convinced that you need to socialise to be a ‘real’ student."
At Mind, we know how helpful the safety and support networks of home life can be, but students are often cut off from this and forced to face these challenges on their own.
- Did you know?.. Demand for student counselling services is rising by 10% every year. (2)
Universities are struggling to cope, so we asked ourselves what we could do to help.
“Not another Facebook.”
We thought about what we wanted to achieve and came up with a handful of potential concepts as a starting point for future discussion and research. Things really got going when we talked to students about our ideas with the mental health charity, Student Minds.
One of the biggest things that came back was the pressure of social networking sites, that was worsening the impact on students. Your newsfeed is normally a cacophony of joy and happiness, with friends posting selective versions of their life that make you feel more isolated and create an environment where it's 'not ok to not be ok'.
- Did you know?... Over 50% of students don’t feel comfortable admitting they’re not coping to someone else. (3)
The expectation for uni to be the best years of your life. The pressure to be enjoying yourself on social media. The stigma around mental health. All these things conspire to make it so hard for students to admit they’re not coping.
"Being as open and honest as possible, even though extremely difficult, is what has assisted me."
We know that being able to express how you’re feeling can be a vital first step to looking after your mental health, so we set out to find a way to make this easier for students.
“Emojis might be one of the most effective forms of emotional communication we use today.”
Out of this, the app was born. Emoodji harnesses the power of two great social phenomena that have taken the world by storm in recent years – selfies and emojis!
Take a selfie, choose an emoji that represents your mood and send it to a friend - or just keep it private. Expressing how you’re feeling can be one of the hardest things we do, but with Emoodji you can do it in an instant.
Is it a bit silly? Yes – that’s the idea. Emojis are visual, fun and accessible. We want to break down the barriers and make it easier for people to express how they’re feeling.
Is it serious too? Yep. As validated by Sir Paul McCartney himself, emojis are a powerful communication tool. Making it just that bit easier to express how they’re feeling could be a game-changer for student mental health. Emoodji tracks your mood too, showing where your fluctuations are and is filled with little tips and info to help students along the way.
What do people think?
It's already been downloaded over 3,000 times and we’ve been blown away by the response we’ve had on social media. Here’s a few reviews we’ve had so far:
“Love it! I find it so difficult to explain how I feel and to recognise the emotions I feel.”
“This is great! Really fun way to tell my friends how I am or my day is going and also to keep up with how they are. Really easy and effective way to stay in touch. Quick to use. The tips look good and relevant to uni life. It looks really cool too. Brilliant.”
Are emojis taking over?
Not only did we launch Emoodji last week, a new app for students that allows them to express how they feel through emoji selfies.
But yesterday, Facebook went live with replacing the 'like' button with a new suite of empathetic emojis:
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO:
"Not every moment you want to share is happy... Sometimes you want to share something sad or frustrating...People want to express empathy and make it comfortable to share a wider range of emotions."
We couldn't agree more, Mark!
1. National Union of Students, 2013.
3. Samaritans, 2015.
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