The Be Safe app goes provincial!

The Be Safe app goes provincial!

Be Safe, a free app created in 2014 to help youth in London Middlesex connect with local mental health and addiction resources, has now been expanded across Ontario. The new version of Be Safe will launch on Friday, June 19, 2015. It includes province-wide resources as well as resources in 13 partner regions across Ontario.

Be Safe was originally developed by a team of youth, the youth mental health program mindyourmind, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s Provincial System Support Program, and other partners in the Systems Improvement through Service Collaboratives initiative in London, Ontario, and surrounding areas.

Be Safe allows youth to make a safety plan, informs them about local mental health and addiction resources, and suggests appropriate community resources based on the youth’s specific needs (which they can identify by using a decision aid). There is also a pocket guide version of Be Safe, which allows youth to keep a paper copy of their safety plan along with a list of Ontario-wide resources they can access when needed.

The success of the London-specific version of Be Safe sparked interest in other communities across Ontario, who partnered with mindyourmind to develop their own community-specific mental health and addiction resources listings. In the new app, users can select from a drop-down menu to see mental health and addiction resources available in their community or across the province. Participating communities include Brant, Chapleau, Chatham-Kent, Durham, Great Sudbury, Haldimand-Norfolk, Hastings-Prince Edwards, Hamilton, London Middlesex, Manitoulin Island, Sarnia Lambton, Waterloo Wellington, and Windsor Essex County.

“In expanding resources we’ve made locally, it enables users to identify the help they need in a simple way, should they choose to travel outside their current location,” says Taylor Holden, 19, who has been involved in developing Be Safe since the first youth co-creation event in April 2013. “In expanding Be Safe across Ontario, we’ve taken a good step forward in ensuring that youth are getting the help they need, when and where they need it.”

In addition to these new regions, Be Safe now includes information on what to expect when accessing mental health services, how to wait for help safely, and patients’ rights.

A zine developed by the youth involved in creating Be Safe, which outlines the processes involved in creating the original app and making adaptations for the new version, is available for viewing at mindyourmind.ca/besafezine.

This is far from the last step for Be Safe, though. “It is exciting to see the community response to the Be Safe app. We’ve already confirmed several new regions we hope to add by the end of the year. We also have a French version underway, which will ensure our broader community can better access services,” says Heather Miko-Kelly, mindyourmind’s Youth Projects and Volunteer Coordinator.

So, mark your calendars for Friday, June 19, when the updated version of Be Safe will be available for free download to any Apple or Android mobile device from mindyourmind.ca/besafe.

A free training webinar for youth-serving professionals about how to use the app will be held on July 14, 2015, at 1 pm. Space is limited, so register early at besafewebinar.eventbrite.com.

For more information, or to learn more about adapting Be Safe in your region, please contact:
Melissa Taylor-Gates
Project Coordinator at mindyourmind
519-859-8721 ext: 8610
melissa [at] mindyourmind [dot] ca