SRU emergency app connects students ‘Just in Case’
March 20, 2017
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Right or wrong, chances are that most college students hold onto their smartphones tighter and with greater care than they do their textbooks. In today's "need to know now" society, Instagram and Twitter are always just a swipe or tap away.
But what happens when an emergency strikes? Are relief and instruction as immediately accessible as a Snapchat story?
At Slippery Rock University, the answer is a resounding "yes" courtesy of the new "Just in Case" application available for download to any mobile device.
The app, which contains "all the resources and contact information a student could ever need," features direct emergency contacts including: University Police, 911, national crisis hotlines as well as local resources thereby offering immediate options to those in crisis situations.
"Rather than comb through pages and pages of web or print materials, we wanted to give students access to something short and sweet, right at their fingertips," said Karla Fonner, assistant director of retention services and student intervention services.
The app, featuring eight tabs, provides information, coping strategies and on- and off-campus resources relating to sexual assault, mental health, self-harm and alcohol.
"With mental health we have seen a definite trend that has increased over the years," said Renee Bateman, health promotion coordinator. "That shows that there is undoubtedly a greater need for more services in regards to emotional and mental wellbeing. The resources provided by this app will help in that regard."
As of 2012, mental illnesses ostensibly affect one out of every four college students in the U.S. Depression also remains high with 44 percent of students reporting symptoms. In addition, suicide continues to be the third leading cause of death among university populations nationwide.
To help address these statistics, "Just in Case" offers students eating disorder, depression and anxiety screenings, and encourages students to report their symptoms to a professional either on or off campus. In addition, the app suggests coping strategies to reduce stress and help recognize when intervention is necessary.
"In delicate situations like these, we realize students may be hesitant to share what is going on in their lives, but they are willing to peruse an app, quickly identify the right people to talk to and to make those calls if necessary," said Fonner.
Other national areas of concern, including alcohol poisoning and sexual assault are also featured.
"It is especially important to raise awareness of sexual assault on a college campus," said Bateman. "Oftentimes, victims or survivors struggle with knowing where to go and what to do. This leads to many unreported crimes where the offender is not brought to justice and the survivor goes without the help they need and deserve."
Nationally, it is estimated that one in every four female college students experience sexual assault - including date rape, victimization, violence or abuse - during their college careers. Approximately 97,000 male and female students experience sexual assault or date rape due to alcohol-related situations.
"Just in Case" helps to combat these realities by defining consent, offering reassurance and directing users to local and national resources for assistance, including the Center of Community Resource and the Victim Outreach Intervention Center, both of which perform free interventions and assistance and allow visitors to remain anonymous.
"Ideally, we want to get the information out there before anyone is in crisis mode because emergencies don't always happen during business hours," said Bateman. "They happen when you're alone, in the middle of the night and all other unexpected times. That's what makes 'Just in Case' so important ... someone is always there for you."
To more information and directions on how to download the app, visit: http://m.appcreatorpro.com/m/slipperyrock/7ca3b2138c/7ca3b2138c.html .
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