Among the millions struggling with mental health issues, this young girl turned her struggles into a tool designed to help ease the pain of others.
Meet Amanda Southworth, a 16-year-old coder and app developer. Through her middle and high school career, Southworth struggled constantly with mental health and anxiety issues. She tried a number of different methods to keep her stress and issues under control, but often found herself feeling lost and hopeless despite her efforts. Unsure of who to turn to for help, Amanda instead found a sense of calm and relief through music. This relief helped her so much that she decided to turn it into a tool and share it with others in a similar situation as her, and with that, the app AnxietyHelper was born.
From the App’s description on the iOS app store, AnxietyHelper is a “mental health toolkit for anyone, allowing you to get info on certain mental illnesses, find resources, and use tools to cope with day to day life.”
The app’s interface is divided into three sections: Info, a place for users to learn about treatments, signs, and coping methods for illnesses, Resources, a directory of additional resources for numerous mental disorders including PTSD, OCD, personality disorder, eating disorders, and much more, and finally tools, where the app offers a few built-in systems for helping users cope with the struggles presented by these disorders.
Integrated in the “tools” function is the “panic attack guidance” system. This system allows users to let the app lead them through a potential panic attack, and point them to the healthiest and best options they can take to mitigate and deal with the attack, such as short meditation breaks or guided reading exercises. The app even lets users place their negative emotions into tiny bubbles, and feel relief by tapping those emotions away.
“AnxietyHelper is designed for you in mind. Help is just a tap away.”
The app is 100% free, devoid of all advertisements, and updated constantly by Amanda herself. According to a bio page about Amanda on Three Dot Dash, it has a concurrent user base of around 1,200 users as well as a tumblr page with over 3,600 followers.
Southworth has also created another app, dubbed Verena, that serves as a similar system of support and comfort, this time for the LGBTQ+ Community. One again completely free, this service allows users to develop a network of friends and contacts who can be notified at any time in times of emergency, all without leaving a trace on the user’s phone. Like AnxietyHelper, this app is designed to give power to people in difficult situations and to help them find direction for conquering the problems in their lives that many other people don’t even know exists.
The app is focused on members of the community who are being bullied or abused due to their sexual orientations. It provides a number of resources that users can tap into when looking for help, including automatic routing to safe havens such as police stations or hospitals and a timer that can be set up to send an emergency message with the user’s last known location to all contacts if the timer is not cancelled before it expires. With tools developed for such dire situations as these, one can only imagine what horrible experiences Amanda herself must have been through.
Despite receiving scholarships and media attention for her noble goals and work, Amanda’s goals and missions are just as simple and humble as when she started off. Her projects have delivered resources to thousands of users in need, and she seems dedicated to continuing her push for support into the future.