The Safe Place app aims to provide Black/African American individuals awareness of mental health and to a lesser degree a way to connect with those holding similar identities. The application includes the following features: mental health statistics, inspirational quotes and videos, mental illness descriptions, self-care tips, links to relevant podcasts, mental health resources, informative articles, and information about the creator’s classes and books. The application also includes self-assessment questions that are relevant to the symptomology associated with particular disorders. Users are prompted to provide “yes” or “no” answers to these questions and are encouraged to follow-up with a mental healthcare professional in the case that they endorse a multiple number of items. No other information (e.g., results, scores, specific resources) are provided after the completion of the self-assessment). Because the application is focused on building awareness, users may engage with material whenever they are interested in learning more about mental health. The application does not require ongoing activity and does not save user data.
Recommendations for Use
The Safe Place will be most beneficial for Black/African American individuals wanting to learn about mental health. Although the application was created with this group in mind, it may nonetheless be beneficial for others who are interested in the experiences of this racial/ethnic group. As mentioned in The App Store, “mental health professionals, friends, and family of all [backgrounds] can be better educated on this issue and do service by directing their Black friends, coworkers, etc. to the app.” Specifically, mental health professionals interested in learning more about the experiences of Black/African American individuals in hopes of making their practice more inclusive may find the application helpful.
Users should utilize the application when looking for information about Black/African American mental health or in the case that one would be interested in connecting with the therapists listed in the directories. Clinicians may find the provided resources helpful when working with clients (e.g., #HowBlackDoesItFeelProject, celebrity stories). It is important to note that the application should not be used in place of consultation with a mental health provider.
As mentioned above, the primary purpose of The Safe Place is to provide individuals with information about mental health in the Black/African American community. The Safe Place offers a variety of resources, such as descriptions of prevalent disorders, statistics surrounding Black/African American mental health, and self-care recommendations that are specific to the Black/African American experience (e.g., Self-care During Police Brutality, When Church Members Don’t Understand, and When Family Doesn’t Understand). The application also includes links to (1) informative articles about Black/African American mental health that includes stories from Black/African American celebrities who have shared their own experiences, (2) relevant podcasts and YouTube videos, and (3) information about the creator’s available mental health classes. One of the more beneficial resources is the application’s reference to directories that link users to mental health providers (e.g., Black Therapist Directory and the Association for Black Psychologists) and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website.
The application provides a few “tips” surrounding behaviors users may engage in to manage mental health. Specifically, recommendations surrounding meditation, exercise, breathing, journaling, and eating are briefly reviewed. Although these recommendations may be beneficial and to a degree represent practices that have been studied and shown to be effective, the presentation of recommendations is very brief and non-descriptive. For example, one recommendation for exercise is to “walk in a quiet and serene place,” but no additional information is provided.
Generally, the material provided is non-academic (e.g., YouTube videos, articles). When sources are included, important information that would allow users to locate the original content is missing (e.g., year, full name of the organization, link), which may make it difficult for users to identify the reliability of the content. The information presented is concise, but at times lacking. For example, as part of the Black Mental Health Statistics section, the application only includes 5 points. Nonetheless, given the application’s purpose is to provide users with information about mental health relevant to the Black/African American community, the content provided to a degree meets this end.
Ease of Use and User Experience
It is easy to learn to use The Safe place, which is one of the application’s strengths. Users will find that learning to use the application is simple, compared to other available applications. However, navigation can be quite cumbersome which impacts overall ease of use. Via trial and error on multiple WIFI networks and 2 different devices, the reviewer noted that the application often freezes and that selecting provided options does not always work (e.g., back button, scrolling).
Visual Design and User Interface
The Safe Place uses design that is appropriate for the target audience. For example, the black background that is accented with various colors mirrors print that is often utilized in Black/African American culture. The application uses a font that is easy to read, although the font is at times rather small and mirrors a document instead of a user-friendly application (e.g., no zoom in function). Although some of the provided links are helpful, several links in the application open external webpages that do not always allow easy access back to the application.
It was my pleasure to review this application. The Safe Place addresses the need for mental health resources that specifically target Black/African American individuals, as those from marginalized groups often have experiences related to their mental health that are unique as compared to their White counterparts. There were aspects of the application that I certainly enjoyed. Specifically, I spent time engaging with the #HowBlackDoesItFeelProject on Twitter and enjoyed some of the articles about Black/African American celebrity mental health. The Safe Place meets its goal to provide awareness about mental health, although there are areas that may be addressed to strengthen the application (e.g., more in depth information about disorders, improvement to aesthetics and bug fixes). The app is free which, may be appealing to users. However, the application has only been updated once, with the last being at least a year ago, so an assessment regarding the longevity of the application is not possible.
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