MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES

Analysts: Mental health calls to Safe UT app ‘more intense’ since pandemic

Sep 27, 2021, 8:22 PM | Updated: Aug 2, 2022, 12:45 pm
Safe UT app...
(Photo used in the Safe UT 2020-2021 Annual Report.)
(Photo used in the Safe UT 2020-2021 Annual Report.)

SALT LAKE CITY — More Utahns used the Safe UT app during the pandemic to reach out for mental health services. State health analysts said they’ve received over six thousand tips just within the last 12 months. 

The Safe UT app creators said they launched it in 2016 as a response to the high number of suicides among Utah’s youth.  Since that time, the app has been used by people needing mental health and suicide prevention services, as well as those reporting possible school threats.

Related: The SafeUT app gets a new look

However, Clinical Supervisor Dénia-Marie Ollerton said something changed when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“During the start of the pandemic, we really noticed an increase in the intensity of the chats that were coming in,” Ollerton said. And said that the conversations lasted a lot longer than before.

Safe UT app used for suicide prevention more often

From the beginning of July 2020 to the end of June 2021, 298 people used the app while they were thinking about or were actively trying to take their own lives.  During that time, the app received over 6,200 tips on topics like suicidal thoughts, bullying, depression, cutting, cyber-bullying, and harassment. 

Ollerton said they also received 256 tips about possible school threats. Which she believes is a good thing.

To us, that shows a really healthy culture in the schools of that ‘see something, say something’ mentality.”

Related: More school resources this year for students’ mental and emotional health

According to Ollerton, the app creators wanted to know more about who was frequently using the app and why.  She said they looked over all the data and found people living in transitional or short-term housing used the app less frequently, as did people living in mostly non-white communities. 

However, they noticed usage was different in certain disadvantaged areas, especially where COVID-19 infection rates were high.

“We found that, during COVID, folks in lower-income areas were using the app more,” Ollerton said.

Misconceptions about the app

Ollerton said many people have a misconception about what the app actually is.  Many people think of it as a resource for K-12 kids and their families. They also have platforms for members of the Utah National Guard, their families, and civilian partners.  That platform launched in 2019.

“The ‘Frontline’ app just started December of 2020 to address the needs of our frontline workers.  So, that would be healthcare providers, fire, EMS, and law enforcement.”

Use the Safe UT app if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or depression. Or, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Today’s Top Stories

Mental Health Resources

world suicide prevention day 2020...
Amie Schaeffer and Lindsay Aerts

Utah adults have highest mental illness rate in country

A study found 26.86% of adults in Utah report some kind of mental illness including substance use disorder and thoughts of suicide.
2 months ago
utah women suicide...
Simone Seikaly

In Utah, more women are likely to attempt suicide than men

Utah women have specific risk factors for suicide, including domestic violence, religious dissonance, opioid and substance use, and LGBTQ+ identies.
3 months ago
Former US President Donald Trump's Twitter account has been reinstated on the platform....
Simone Seikaly

Twitter self-harm hashtag concerning for Utah mental health experts

A Twitter hashtag linked to self-harm content on the social media platform prompts concern from Utah mental health experts.
3 months ago
Gov. Cox mental health...
Allie Litzinger

Gov. Cox opens up about past mental heath struggles at press conference

Gov. Cox spoke of a friend's suicide, Utah's high suicide rate, and resources that are available to those experiencing mental health issues.
3 months ago
kids and body image KSL radio...
Simone Seikaly

How to help kids maintain a healthy body image in the digital age

Body image issues can arise in kids as young as 3 years of age. A psychiarist joins Dave and Dujanovic to offer insight.
4 months ago
Incumbent Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, debates GOP primary challenger Erin Rider aon Tuesday, May 31...
Simone Seikaly

Rep Stewart’s suicide prevention hotline, 988, goes live this week

It's been a long time in the making but the new number to call for suicide prevention, 988, will finally be live across the nation this week.
5 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
Analysts: Mental health calls to Safe UT app ‘more intense’ since pandemic