EmojiHealth app aims to get youth talking about their health

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Two teens have created a new app aimed at getting young people to have open conversations about health and wellness using the language most comfortable to teens: texting.

The whole idea behind EmojiHealth is to get teens talking about health and wellness and topics that are often difficult to discuss, like mental health.

One of the founders, 17-year-old Alexandra Philp Reeves, says the app includes features like personalized reminders to take medication and tracker messages to make sure the teen is staying active. But she says the key to this app is that it speaks the language of the user.

“By using emojis, making it highly visual, and kind of trying to have the information come from the voice of a young person, we really think that we’re able to more identify with and be more in the real life of a teen,” she said.

So, having an app like this raises the question — Has therapy moved from the psychiatrist’s couch to the smartphone? Is this an effective way to promote open dialogue amongst young people?

Clinical psychologist Dr. Oren Amitay says it’s a great tool to help promote conversation, but removing human contact may not be as healthy as you think.

“Anything that can stimulate conversation and make people feel more comfortable talking about their issues is a good thing … but it creates a distance,” he said.

“When I’m talking to someone face to face emotions are being evoked, oxytocin’s being released… Through text messaging, you don’t get that… It’s not healthy, but people feel comfortable with it.”

Alexandra says the app’s mission is to engage and empower young people to manage their own wellness and simply to help people.