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Published on July 16th, 2014 | from CAMH

Be Safe app for youth: A community creating change

by Erin Schulthies


Be Safe was first developed for young people in London Ontario, to help them navigate the mental health system. If you’re interested in adapting for your city, contact mindyourmind

On April 1st, the London branch of the Systems Improvement through Service Collaboratives launched the Be Safe app, a tool to help youth in crisis.

With both a smartphone version and a printable paper pocket guide (pdf), it is versatile for both young people and their mental health care providers.

I should know. After 13 years in London’s mental health care system, knowing the essentials of my needs in crisis is key to weathering my storms.

The Be Safe app helps me keep my personal information close at hand and helps me choose where to turn should I need extra support.

I am proud to say that I was part of the team that developed this app from the beginning, along with other youth with lived experience.

Young women around the design table laughing

A group of eight young people helped develop Be Safe, a mobile app to help youth manage mental health and addiction crises, and identify services.

Many of us speak of our mental health system, but only have experience from our personal histories or workplace. As a member of the London Service Collaborative, I learned a lot about making change at the system level.

Speaking with service providers from all branches of our local mental health system, from education to justice to hospital intake teams, I learned the strength of a room full of hearts and minds with an eye on a better future through working together.

The Service Collaborative means we can be confidant that system caps can and will be closed, so that transitions from one agency to another remains as smooth as possible for youth in crisis. Responsibility of care won’t be slumped onto the shoulders of young people in need but be spread across Ontario in a safe net of strong holds and purposeful connection.

Young people have the unique need of needing a sense of control while in a transitional period. We let them choose their high school and university classes, but they have little say in when or how they cross over from child to adult health care services.

Access to care for youth: At your fingertips

The Be Safe app addresses the needs of youth by putting their key personal information and their health care options literally in their hands. Have you seen a young person without a cell phone in their hands? Me neither.

I use the Be Safe smartphone app on a daily basis. I refer to my lists of medications in the app when visiting the pharmacy; I share the addresses of local service providers to friends in crisis, to advise them of their options.

When I’m not using the app for personal resource or to help a friend, I’m showing it off while gushing about the life changing experience of working with some of the most powerful minds in our community.

Being part of the London Service Collaborative has changed my life and will continue to do so as we head together towards a health care system that not only meets the needs of youth, but also heals and sustains them so that young people can build their own ties in this rich and ever evolving community.

How can you use the Be Safe app as part of your role in our mental health care system? Is there someone in your private life who would benefit from this coping tool? Download the app now and check out the paper pocket guide as well. The next step in helping youth help themselves involves you!

Be Safe was developed through a partnership between mindyourmind a national mental health program for young people, and the London Service Collaborative (one of 18 service collaboratives throughout Ontario working to improve mental health and addiction services).

Be safe is available for free on iTunes and Google Play stores


>> Find out more about the Service Collaboratives in your community

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