Background to project
In September 2017, the Guardian highlighted the issue of student mental health concerns. A study by the IPPR think tank reported a fivefold increase in students reporting mental health issues, and a record number of students with mental health problems dropping out of university (IPPR 2017). UK university students support services are struggling to manage the demand for mental health support, with a recommendation that more self-help resources are provided early in the student experience (HEFCE 2018). Additionally there is a growing need for a whole university approach to student well-being (Universities UK, 2018).
Student anxiety is linked to a number of factors such as transitioning from home, managing independence and living skills, financial worries, relationship worries, degree worries, family concerns, and physical and mental health issues (NUS 2015, Universities UK, 2015). But not all support needs to be focused on mental health – the majority of student worries are non-clinical and if addressed can reduce an accumulating anxiety load.
OpenUpUEA aims to address this concern by focusing on students transitioning into university and providing tools to help students develop their own emotional resilience.
It fits with the UEA strategic plan, which outlines the need to work in partnership with our students, and to invest in wider student support (Objective 3, action point 5).
A detailed literature review looked at the most effective emotion regulation strategies, and drew upon Laura Biggart’s ESRC funded research, which explored emotional resilience in social work (Biggart et al 2016). The research identified six key strategies to adopt when things get stressful – ‘plan ahead’, ‘reframe’, ‘exercise’, ‘tackle the problem’, ‘seek support’ and ‘modify mood’. By using this as a template, the OpenUp UEA app aims to provide effective emotion regulation strategies for students.
The UEA App development competition
In June 2017, Laura Biggart successfully applied to the UEA app development competition, organised by UEA Research and Innovation Services (RIN). Four CMP undergraduates were employed as summer interns, plus a ‘scrum master’, a PhD student, to oversee to development of the prototype app, alongside the ‘product owners’.
In the autumn semester, the prototype app underwent user testing with undergraduate students, coordinated by 3rd year project students in PSY. This user testing required the participants to download and use the app, before completing a questionnaire and taking part in focus groups to provide feedback on both the usability of the app, and the suggested features.
In January 2018, OpenUp UEA received proof of concept funding to further refine the app, with the support of company JoZi Tech. Two PSY masters students are currently working on developing further features, and will be working alongside two CMP summer interns.
The app will be available to UEA students from September 2018.
The following institutions and individuals have each made valuable contributions to the OpenUp app and are sincerely thanked for their hard work and effort:
|Laura Biggart||UEA PSY||Inventor|
|Kamena Henshaw||UEA PSY||Inventor|
|Jason Lines||UEA CMP||Internship Academic Lead|
|Adam Ziolkowsi||UEA CMP / JoZi Tech Ltd.||Senior Developer|
|Steve Jones||UEA NBS / JoZi Tech Ltd.||Scrum Master / Senior Developer|
|Admin and Funding Support|
|Chris Blincoe||UEA RIN||App Development Internship Co-ordinator|
|Claire Bushell||UEA RIN||App Development Internship Admin|
|Kevan Williams||UEA SSF||Associate Dean Funding - 2018 Internship|
|Jon Carter||UEA RIN||Funding (proof of concept) for App Development 2018|
|Scott Steward-Smith||UEA PSY||Marketing, Website and Admin Support|
|2017 App Challenge Hosted by UEA CMP and RIN|
|Conor Reynolds||UEA CMP||UG Student - Developer|
|Josh Dennis||UEA CMP||UG Student - Developer|
|Michael Meyne||UEA CMP||UG Student - Developer|
|Warren Reynolds||UEA NBS||UG Student - Developer|
|Feature Research and Testing|
|Alison Northwood||UEA RIN||Market research i-teams project Co-ordniator 2018|
|Megan Jones||UEA PSY||PGT Student - New Feature Development|
|Laura Batson||UEA PSY||PGT Student - New Feature Development|
|Chris Vear||UEA PSY||UG Student - User Testing - Prototype|
|Elizabeth Boyer||UEA PSY||UG Student - User Testing - Prototype|
|Amelia Nelson||UEA PSY||UG Student - User Testing - Prototype|
|Collette Meades||UEA PSY||UG Student - User Testing - Prototype|
|Bianca Ilii||UEA PSY||UG Student - User Testing - Prototype|
|Ellie Fairfield||UEA BIO||PGR Student - Market Research|
|Benediktas Kaminskas||UEA BIO||PGR Student - Market Research|
|Laurie Kerr||UEA ENV||PGR Student - Market Research|
|James Craske||UEA EDU||PGR Student - Market Research|
|Conor McGrath||The Quadram Institute||PGR Student - Market Research|
|Chris Astwood||UEA HUM||PGR Student - Market Research|
|Isabella Diez-Santos||John Innes Centre||PGR Student - Market Research|
|Benjamin Young-Longstaff||UEA MTH||PGR Student - Market Research|
|Sophie Bagge||UEA PSY||PGR Student - New Feature Development|
|Dom Davis||Tech Marionette Ltd.||Internship Technical Workshops and Mentoring|
|Mel Pullen||-||Internship Technical Workshops and Mentoring|
|Joost Noppen||BT Research||2017 CMP Academic Lead and Mentoring|
|Tom Haczewski||The User Story||User Journeying and iTeams Mentor|
|2018 Summer Interns|
|Ben Townsend||UEA CMP||UG Student - Developer|
|James Mason||UEA CMP||UG Student - Developer|