A program at Kent State University is aiming to help Black girls deal with stress, anxiety, and depression. Sisters United Now is run by psychologist Angela Neal Barnett, who says that chronic stress and anxiety often develops for Black women in childhood, but many don’t recognize it until they have become adults.

Barnett developed the app along with psychology major Jordyn Lally, and it goes through a few different phases. The first is a journal phase, where girls write about what’s going on in their lives. Then there is an assessment of what they’ve written, so they can evaluate whether their thoughts about it were positive or negative. Finally, there is a music phase where the users record theme songs to help them through difficult times, and a survey that functions to track improvements after the girls have listened to them.

The researchers hope to use technology to improve the mental health of young Black girls, even though it’s documented that using smartphones can actually be a drain on the mental health of young people. Osychologist Elizabeth Harris of University of Houston Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital explains:

“Any exposure to devices for a long period of time can be damaging to mental health, particularly with attention, with sleeping, and with person to person interaction… When you speak to adolescents particularly you have to meet them where they are… being able to check in with yourself and see how you feel and do something positive and check in again is something that can naturally improve your mood. So being able to monitor how you feel moment to moment is actually a therapeutic technique.”

We’re rooting for the app, and for the Black girls who will eventually be using it.

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