Fundraiser Kicks off for New App to Tackle Teen Mental Health Crisis

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Washington, DC -- (ReleaseWire) -- 02/17/2016 --According to the Department of Health and Human Services, one in five American teenagers has a diagnosable mental health disorder. Many existing treatments are inadequate, ineffective, and outdated. The vast majority of kids who need help don't get any at all. Stigma often adds to a sense of fear and confusion. This crisis impacts young people from all backgrounds, putting them at risk of feeling isolated, falling behind in school, or far worse.

Now, two Washington, DC-based moms aim to change that. This week, they launched an online fundraising campaign for their pioneering new app called psych.E. The app will provide a forum for safe, anonymous peer-to-peer support, educational video content, and interactive, incentivized treatment tracking tools, helping kids take control of their own mental health. The idea was developed by Jennifer Oko and Sharon Cichy, together with Yale University psychiatrist David Grodberg, MD.

"Having kids involved in their own mental health care is critical to having positive outcomes, but there are so few existing resources that can engage them in an ongoing and consistent manner," said David Goldberg, MD. "psych.E is creating features that will do just that."

The psych.E team is working with the tech incubator Over the past year, they have been meeting with public health professionals, doctors, business leaders, entrepreneurs, tech developers, and, most importantly, numerous teenagers from around the country.

"As a mom with preteen kids, I am worried about my children and other children I know and love. I struggled with depression and an eating disorder through my teenage years, and I want to make sure none of them ever have to grapple with the feelings of isolation and confusion that I felt so acutely back then," said co-founder Jennifer Oko. "I want to tear down barriers so that teenagers can easily find effective support, information, and care. This platform will address one of the largest health crises in America. It will give millions of teens the tools they need to be informed, engaged, and empowered to take control of their own mental health care."

Some of the alarming statistics about American adolescents and mental health (Source: National Association of Mental Illness):

- Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in youth ages 10-24 and the 2nd for youth ages 15-24.
- 90% of children who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness.
- 1 in 5 (20%) American adolescents have a diagnosable mental health disorder.
- Half of all students (50%) with a mental health disorder drop out of high school.
- 70% of youth in state and national juvenile justice systems have a mental illness.

psych.E has at least one health system on board to test the beta version, high-profile content partnerships lined up, and they recently engaged the app development firm Spartan Ventures to be build the mobile platform. Their advisory board includes Alex Kolevzon, MD, director of NYC's Mount Sinai Hospital's Child Behavioral Health and Science Center, Tim Sparapani, the first Head of Public Policy for Facebook, as well as other experts in their respective fields, such as a former HHS senior officer, a privacy attorney, an Emmy-winning producer, and a venture capitalist who has invested and helped to launch dozens of startups.

They are currently seeking public donations to develop the beta version of the app. Their goal is to raise $100,000 by March 21, 2016.