January 19, 2021 – Thunder Bay, Ont.
Dr. Aislin Mushquash, a Clinical Psychologist and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Lakehead University, and her research team have published exciting results from a 28-day study of the JoyPopTM app developed by a team at McMaster University, which promotes resilience among youth.
The JoyPopTM app was created based on research suggesting that mental health and resilience can be fostered by helping youth gain coping skills, especially those related to managing difficult emotions and increasing engagement in positive activities.
“There are so many mental health apps that are available – yet very few have been evaluated. Our team recognized the importance of studying the impact of the JoyPopTM app before broader implementation occurs,” said Dr. Mushquash, the principal investigator.
The app’s creator, Dr. Christine Wekerle, an Associate Professor in Pediatrics at McMaster University and an Associate Member of McMaster’s Offord Centre for Child Studies, explained that her mother, who was a much-loved teacher, always said, “Young people just need a chance, a bit of help.”
“I designed JoyPopTM to be that help with the science of psychology,” Dr. Wekerle said.
Angela MacIsaac, a PhD student in Lakehead’s Clinical Psychology program who is a member of Dr. Mushquash’s research team, said the study looked at young people who were starting post-secondary school.
“Our research evaluating the JoyPopTM app among older youth transitioning to university showed that using the app more over the 28-day study period was associated with greater improvements in emotion regulation skills and symptoms of depression,” MacIsaac said.
Dr. Mushquash said that the improvements in emotion regulation are especially prominent among individuals who have experienced adversity or trauma during childhood.
“The results are encouraging and support the JoyPopTM app as a tool that could be used by youth and young adults to improve their resilience and overall well-being,” Dr. Mushquash said.
Given the promise of JoyPopTM, Dr. Mushquash is collaborating with Children’s Centre Thunder Bay and Dilico Anishinabek Family Care to develop and pilot a new service that will feature the app.
The new service will immediately increase access to mental health supports for youth and is made possible thanks to $14,436 in funding from the Thunder Bay Community Foundation and support through the Children’s Centre Foundation.
The JoyPopTM app includes a host of features designed to foster resilience. Youth are encouraged to rate their moods and prompted to engage in helpful activities depending on their ratings.
Activities focus on relaxing the body, helping to organize the thoughts, and providing a fun or distracting outlet. The JoyPopTM app can also link youth directly to their support system or established telephone help lines when further assistance is required.
Download JoyPopTM now for only $6.99.
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Lakehead University is a fully comprehensive university with approximately 9,700 full-time equivalent students and over 2,000 faculty and staff at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead has 10 faculties, including Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Graduate Studies, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Law, Natural Resources Management, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Science & Environmental Studies, and Social Sciences & Humanities. Lakehead University’s achievements have been recognized nationally and internationally, including being ranked, once again, among Canada’s Top 10 primarily undergraduate universities in Maclean’s 2021 University Rankings; as well as included in the top half of Times Higher Education's 2020 World Universities Rankings for the second consecutive year, and 98th among 766 universities from around the world in THE's 2020 Impact Rankings (which assesses institutions against the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals). Visit www.lakeheadu.ca.