VANCOUVER ISLAND, B.C- Over 200,000 people have downloaded an app designed to support mental health in youth and young adults.

According to a media release from Vancouver Island Health, “BoosterBuddy” is an app designed for young people who are living with stress, depression and anxiety. It features a cartoon “buddy” who offers tips for self-care, including daily check-ins and support for more serious mental health issues.

Lauren Fox, Island Health Clinical lead for Booster Buddy, said the app can be a powerful tool.

“If you have something in your pocket that you can reach for whenever you need to, that can be a real advantage for folks that are isolating, or living in more remote areas,” she said.

“Folks that have some challenges with depression or anxiety, might find it hard to get started on tasks or hard to enjoy things that they used to enjoy, and hard to find motivation.”

According to Fox, the app was developed with those struggles in mind. 

“We used an approach called gamification, which is using design elements from video games that help people get people started and keep doing something,” she said.

“But instead we use that for the day to day tasks that you need to do to stay well and manage your mental health.”

The app was designed by mental health professionals at Island Health and a youth design team in 2014, since that time, it has been continuously updated.

The program also features coping tools, sets medication reminders, sends users on quests, encourages exercise and real-life social interactions and offers incentives through virtual coin rewards and progression of levels.

Coast Capital Savings recently provided a third gift of $70,560 towards the app development, and have now invested more than $330,000 to the program.

You can download BoosterBuddy at the App Store or Google Play and there’s more information about the app at www.viha.ca/boosterbuddy