University creates app to help students with ups, downs of college

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Photo Credit: Stephanie Martinez-Arndt | Daily Texan Staff

The University of Texas launched the mobile application “Thrive at UT” Monday, taking an innovative step to use technology to promote student well-being. 

The app was designed to help students practice behaviors that support health and academic success. It emphasizes key concepts such as mindfulness, self-compassion and gratitude by guiding students through excersises that promote these behaviors.

“The app gives us the opportunity to continue practicing well-being on the go,” said psychology junior Gustavo Molinar who helped give feedback on “Thrive at UT.” “It’s a preventive measure, so students can go in and use it whenever, or review a concept they learned about mindfulness or gratitude.”

Molinar said the app has many features that make it easier for students to learn about new topics.

“‘Thrive’ is interactive,” Molinar said. “You click on the topic and it gives you some information about it, and you can reflect on your experience. ”

The app is available for iPhone users and allows users to share their thoughts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It also provides the option to enable notifications and remind students to use behaviors they have learned.

Elena Bizer, integrated health counselor at the Counseling and Mental Health Center and a developer of the app, said “Thrive at UT” is more user-friendly than other resources for students.

“We wanted to use the opportunities that are unique to mobile technology,” Bizer said. “There’s information about well-being in a book or website, but what’s unique about an app is that you select notifications and even if you get distracted, the app can continue to engage you.”

“Thrive at UT” includes many testimonials from UT students about how they have dealt with problems at college.

Accounting junior Jackson Clifford, a student who is featured on the app, said he participated to try to help others.

“I decided to share my story because I struggled to find my identity, self-esteem and community early on in college,” Clifford said. “One person’s testimony on how they overcame their struggles can help someone going through something similar.”

The app helps students practice positive behaviors and approach health holistically, Clifford said.

“More often than not we are not conscious of how our community emotions and mindset impact our overall wellness,” Clifford said. “From the small quotes to daily reminders, the app provides an interactive platform to be mindful.”