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Positive messages come to Ohio State app

This week’s positive message reminded students find mindful moments on the Ohio State app. Credit: Screenshot from the Ohio State App

Students looking for positive reinforcement can now easily find it in one of the more unexpected places: the Ohio State app.

The Ohio State App team partnered with USG and Counseling and Consultation Services to launch its 16-week long positive mental wellness messaging campaign Oct. 1. The campaign will create new positive messages and resource highlights that will release every Monday on the campus screen of the Ohio State App.

Shawn Semmler, USG vice president, said this is an important effort to promote mental wellness.

“Our focus is on what we can do right now, as well as what do long term solutions look like and how do we aggressively implement those,” Semmler said. “This is an immediate step to get the message out there about the whole range of resources and day-to-day wellness activities that we can be doing as students.”

The first launch informed students about RECESS, an event put on by CCS for students to take a break from midterms and relax. These posts are aligned with the Discover app’s content, the digital flagship app that was installed on all freshmen iPads given out this year.

Ben Hancock, director of application development, said they recognized they were only reaching a subunit of students on the discover app and wanted to reach as many students as possible by making this content available on the Ohio State app.

“All the stuff that we’ve gone around getting content for freshman in the discover app, we want to make available to all of the students,” Hancock said. “We know almost all the students are using the Ohio State app so we thought it was a good place to do that.”

According to an Ohio State document, the campus screen in the Ohio State app gets approximately 142,000 screen views each week by 70,000-85,000 users. Because of this amount of viewership, Semmler said the Ohio State app is by far the best option to communicate an immediate message with Ohio State students.

Shamina Merchant, USG president, said this campaign is one step toward strengthening the culture of care on campus by implementing more pathways to support students.

“It’s a combination of a couple things: the first piece is communicating to students about the resources that they may not know that they can access right now and decreasing that gap between students that need immediate help,” Merchant said. “The other piece is promoting that culture of care and working to make sure that in how we communicate we never lose sight of the most important piece which is each individual student and their wellbeing.”

Hancock said that the messages are the first editorial piece they have done with the Ohio State app. With a focus on positivity, they will experiment and assess what type of messages resonate with students and aim to improve them over time.

“There’s a lot of things that students are focusing on and at times it can be incredibly difficult and some of those difficulties are due to not knowing that resources are available, knowing resources are available but not knowing how to get to them, or maybe there could be social implications of reaching out to resources,” Hancock said. “We want to make student’s lives easier: make it more simple where we can, reduce friction where we can and help if they’re having a difficult time by having a conversation.”

Hancock said the 16-week campaign will be used to help the decision-making process at the January digital flagship sessions which will be wellness focused and that the hope is to enter the sessions well informed with a test run as something to go off of. He said the current way the messaging is set up is an intermediate fix.

“It’s on the campus screen but most of the students are on the about you screen because that’s where they go to do things,” Hancock said. “There’s probably a better place to put it that will get to more students and it will have a better effect so were trying to figure that out now hopefully before we met in January.”

Hancock is not worried about the numbers of student interaction with the positive messages from the first two weeks. He said that they will assess the data further along the way so they can get a clear idea of the messages’ impact.

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