College students and faculty swipe to stay mindful

The University of Texas at Austin launches a higher ed app that promotes well-being
By: | Issue: April, 2017
March 24, 2017

A well-being app encourages students at The University of Texas at Austin to stay in the moment—via the device that often takes them out of it: their phone.

The Thrive at UT app provides personalized reminders that promote daily reflection on well-being and contains short, unscripted videos of students talking about their struggles and triumphs, says Elana Bizer, integrated health counselor with the university’s Counseling and Mental Health Center.

Launched in 2016, the app has over 3,000 users.

The center partnered with the School of Education’s department of psychological counseling to choose the app’s seven core concepts, which include gratitude, mindset and community. Graduate students filmed the videos and hosted student focus groups to further develop the app’s editorial content, says Bizer.

The app sends customized reminders, questions and advice based on information the student enters, such as inspirational quotations and social suggestions. Skill-building tips help users strengthen resilience, self-compassion and other behaviors they will need throughout their lives. UT’s faculty also use the app.

“We don’t consider Thrive at UT to be a mental health app, as we are not assuming every user is struggling,” says Bizer. “We can all benefit from focusing on these core topics.”