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ASHLAND -- The Mental Health & Recovery Board of Ashland County has launched an app designed to help Ashland County residents connect with local resources and manage stress. 

Released earlier this month, the Healthy Ashland app was created as an interactive phone app offering a variety of mental health, crisis and addiction resources, but also tools for anyone -- especially those in Ashland County -- seeking overall wellness. 

“We wanted people to be able to go there for basic information like the crisis lines, but what it's all about is health and wellness, doing things that keep people from needing our services,” said David Ross, assistant director at the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Ashland County. 

The app also includes links to local events and currently, a special section for COVID-19 information and resources. Ross hopes the app becomes part of people’s regular routines. 

Conversations about the app’s creation began more than a year ago, but amid the pandemic, Ross and others with the mental health board saw an even more immediate need for it. 

“We were reviewing analytics and realized we might be missing people who don’t go to websites often," he said. "We could be missing the boat by not having something for younger generations or people who prefer to use tablets."

The COVID-19 pandemic has limited in-person resources for some, as many mental health providers continue telehealth. It seemed fitting to release a mobile resource at this time, Ross said. 

The Healthy Ashland app is available on Apple and Android devices, and signs have been placed around Ashland prompting people to download the app by scanning a QR code with their devices. 

The app was developed by Ashland University associate dean of students and director of psychological counseling, Oscar McKnight. He previously developed a mental health app for AU students.

“He designed an app specific to the college and that was such a good experience," Ross said. "We had some learning under our belt, and we said, 'let’s take what we learned and see if we can do a countywide mental health and addiction app.' "

Earlier this year, the app was created and tested by a group of 90 individuals. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Users enjoyed the stress relief and relaxation resources and suggested the addition of local event resources. 

They suggested some changes that have already been implemented, and the app at the time of it's release still offered a “contact us” section for new users to make further suggestions based on their experience. 

“It’s tough to know the impact of something like this," Ross said. "It’s a prevention service, preventing something from ever happening."

So far, he said it’s been rewarding to watch data on how many times the app is downloaded and how it's used.

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