The Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise at Clark University envisions a world where all adolescents and young adults are able to develop the social and emotional skills they need to be successful — in school and in life. To move that vision closer to reality, the Institute is working to create and deliver behavioral health services and tools that respond to the needs of adolescents, young adults, their families, and communities.
One of those tools, a mobile app called “MI Peace,” has been recognized with the 2021 Product Innovation Award from Boston-based OutSystems, a global leader in modern application development.
“In 2019, we wanted to do something big and bold to support young people’s behavioral health needs,” says Institute Director Nadia Ward. “Then COVID hit and interfered with our ability to access young people in schools and community settings. We had to think out of the box about how to connect and engage with young people.”
Below: Nadia Ward discusses the Mosakowski Institute’s MI Peace app (story continues after video).
The app has four components. It provides information to young people about the most common behavioral health concerns; allows them to be introspective and assess how they are feeling in the moment; offers them strategies they can use to help manage and mitigate some of the stressors they’re experiencing; and connects them to a human being — a professional who can support their behavioral health needs.
That last component is critical, Ward says. “It’s still always about the relationship. The technology doesn’t replace the relationship. It can serve as a catalyst or facilitator, but at the end of the day, human beings need to connect with human beings.”
To create the app quickly, the Institute partnered with OutSystems and Do iT Lean. Through agile practices, “We were able to develop a comprehensive app and make it available to young people as a direct-to-consumer product,” Ward says, adding that the app will also be offered to schools.
The Mosakowski Institute also is collaborating with the Brookline Community Health Center and DMA Health Strategies on a multiyear, $35 million grant from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to conduct a rigorous study of the impact of telebehavioral health services on behavioral health outcomes among young people.