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Utahns use tech to promote wellness on World Mental Health Day

Posted at 8:22 AM, Oct 10, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — October 10 is World Mental Health Day, which is an annual opportunity to raise awareness of and get more people to support efforts to improve mental health globally.

This comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports an increase in young people struggling with poor mental health.

However, several initiatives are currently happening in Utah to improve mental health among the younger generations, which includes the Skylight App.

It was created about two years ago in The Beehive State.

According to Skylight Executive Director John Dye, they initially set out to make it an in-person experience, but the pandemic shifted their vision to the digital realm.

“The challenge was given: How do we, not only create a digital experience, but how do we impact more people positively,” Dye explained.

While he said Skylight is similar to some apps already available like Headspace and Calm, their app differentiates itself through spiritual wellness and instructional videos that feature daily stretches, meditations, prayers, and affirmations.

“We do it through a unique lens. We do believe that connecting to a higher power, to God, is a way that can center people,” Dye reflected. “We believe that is a grounding force in trying to help them with all of the trials… all of the things they face today.”

Dye explained people will find value in the app even if they’re not spiritual or religious. Currently, more than 500,000 people have downloaded the app. Research indicates about 53 percent of users use Skylight for spiritual wellness.

Meanwhile, the University of Utah has ramped up its programming to help students with their mental health.

In 2022, the University Counseling Center began offering skills workshops after receiving continual feedback from students wanting to address anxiety, depression, and time management, according to Breanna Lambert, a mental health specialist and coordinator of the skills workshops,

Each week, they hold drop-in group sessions in person and online. Lambert believes that peer-to-peer engagement and connection are what makes their workshops different from individualized therapy.

She explained, “We live in a very individualized culture that focuses on what are your individual goals, how do you get there by yourself, and we really need community.”

Ultimately, Lambert and Dye both explain that these tools are not intended to replace traditional therapy. They can be used in conjunction with it.