Smart-health at your fingertips.
A new, locally developed self-harm/suicide prevention mobile app for Young People (15-19yr).
Text & Image: Jason Cotton
In May 2019, we caught up with Jason Cotton and Fraser Longford who established Men-Talk, a local charity offering face to face support sessions for those suffering with poor mental health, raising awareness, breaking down stigma, and getting men to talk.
Jason described how the energy in the room would change during these meetings ‘as men would turn up at crisis point, desperately needing to be heard and understood without fear or judgement, knowing that what’s said in the room - stays in the room and through their courage and strength, would arrive broken but walk out as warriors’.
With five community hero awards and ever-increasing volumes, Men-Talk teamed up with Hayley Oxer to launch an online sister group called ‘Broken Beauty’ which provided the community with additional self-harm/suicide prevention support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, helping 100s of men and their families via zoom, facetime sessions and 121 messages, sharing the power of community spirit through its darkest times.
Around the same time, the team also looked at helping our younger generation by visiting local schools and colleges delivering life-experiencing, motivational talks to help raise self-awareness.
Jason explains "the talk at Brookfield School was such a rollercoaster of emotions and changed our lives forever. Speaking to an assembly of over 200 students was just unreal, as they listened intently you could hear a pin drop with each young face telling a unique and personal story, many of which were hiding real, emotional pain. Watching young Bradley Littlewood then deliver an inspiring, motivational speech followed by an ovation was just incredibly uplifting. Finding out from a parent that their child had planned to end their own life but having sat and watched us in assembly that morning had found the courage to speak out to them instead - it’s stuff like that which just breaks you."
Jason mentioned that a few weeks later having delivered a talk at Chesterfield College, he noticed a young lad sat all by himself and so went up to chat, explaining what he does and asking him how things were going. Jason explains, "he said things at home were bad, his girlfriend had dumped him, he was drinking and smoking heavily, he couldn’t sleep and was now failing his exams and feeling completely overwhelmed with stress. He said he needed help, but his anxiety stopped him reaching out, the fear of being seen and bullied had stopped him taking down a number from a poster and knowing his mum checks his bag had stopped him from taking a crisis card - he was ready to give up. He then said he had to dash asking me if I could do something to help to which I replied, ‘yeah of course, there’s always something that can be done’. He then said, ‘do you promise?’ which really took me by surprise. After what seemed a lifetime, I replied, ‘yes ok, I promise’. The following week the UK went into lockdown."
Working from home, Jason kept thinking about what the young lad had said to him. "It sounds like a cliché," he explains "but a few weeks later I had this dream about building this self-help digital app which gives users a platform to access all the contacts, services, and self-help knowledge available, via their smartphone. A readily available source of information which young people use discreetly and without fear, taking the anxiety out of taking action."
In partnership with public health and children’s services, the team have just completed a successful one year pilot delivery of 'snapp-it' to over 250 pupils across schools and colleges in Chesterfield, Erewash and the High Peaks.
Jason comments "we kept the project quiet to ensure the best and most natural response. With no promotional campaign or previous awareness of ‘snapp-it’, it was exciting to be introduced to the students who knew pretty much nothing about us, who sat and listened as we started talking, and to see their reaction, it was really cool. Real-life people sharing real-life experiences, standing up and talking openly to them. Kids are smart and they want the truth so there are no boring slideshows or uncompassionate lecturing, we know what it feels like, we understand what they may be going through, and we just want to help them live happy and fulfilling lives. As a group we connect, and it just works and to then hand out free smart devices for them to keep forever is always a winner."
The free 'snapp-it' smart-devices come in the form of wearable wristbands, lanyards, smartcards and phone badges and offer a 32GB USB memory stick so students can store their schoolwork or create your own personalised wellbeing toolkit. Snapping the cleverly concealed QR code takes you to the snapp-it mobile application which provides over 4,500 contextual links for phones, sms, emails, websites, forums, GPS maps, social media pages, mobile app stores and tons of insightful video links of local and national health-care service providers. Through an engaging, intuitive icon driven menu, the user can auto-dial a helpline, auto-send a crisis SMS, auto-create an email to your school nurse, get directions to your nearest A&E, GP surgeries, pharmacies, and sexual health clinics with instant access to all the emergency services, 999, 111 NHS plus local mental health and physical health facilities such as gyms, sports, and leisure centres. There’s localised bus, taxi and trains services and mind and body wellbeing programmes - to help you lose weight, to stop smoking, to getting active plus helpful information on alcohol awareness, employment and finance, foodbanks, youth projects, training courses, apprenticeships and volunteer action groups, motivational speakers, spiritual life science and self-awareness skills, ASMR relaxations and lots of high quality, mind-soothing meditations to help manifest calm in your world. With an additional 300+ sections dedicated to understanding health conditions such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, bullying, abuse, self-harm, bereavement, addictions, relationships, behavioural, sexual health, gender identity, personality disorders, discrimination, disabilities, young carers, family problems, housing and money, COVID-19 there’s support from over 50+ local and national charities - there’s plenty of fun stuff too.
"Our young people need our help and so by reaching out and intervening early in years 11, 12 & 13, we highlight the importance of maintaining great mental, emotional, physical, sexual health - healing the mind and body - helping to prevent harm and saving lives," says Jason.
Having already achieved two community finalist awards in 2021, the team can now set their sights high with a plan to deliver into more schools and colleges across Derbyshire. To continue this great work, the team need support from the Community. A donation of £10 will sponsor a young person ensuring they are reached and supported with free 'snapp-it' smart devices and access to all services.
"We look forward to the future," Jason finishes.
Please join them on facebook to share their journey.