Well-being app helps students and staff thrive

A new state-of-the-art smartphone app is now available to nearly 100,000 staff and students at Monash University.

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday
MONASH SUNWAY CAMPUS IN KUALA LUMPUR. The library 245/03/15 Find a course page promoting Malaysia courses

A state-of-the-art mental health and well-being smartphone app, co-designed by students during Victoria’s pandemic lockdowns, is now available to nearly 100,000 staff and students at Monash University.

The Monash THRIVE app launched last week and was developed by researchers at the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health in response to challenges and needs reported by students during the lockdowns.

The Monash THRIVE surveys found that many students were struggling with their cognitive health throughout the pandemic.

Turner Institute Director and THRIVE co-lead Professor Kim Cornish said the app was unique in Australia because it was developed as a not-for-profit resource, built entirely in-house at Monash University, and did not record student data.

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“There are hundreds of mental health apps available via app stores, and unfortunately, many share private health information with third parties without disclosing it,” Professor Cornish said. “We don’t.”

“THRIVE has been developed by a mental health research-trained lab, for the community good, with privacy, co-design, and evidence-based research baked into the development from day one – and it’s free for all users.”

Daily check-ins monitor changing moods

The app encourages users to check in via a customisable character to be more aware of how they’re feeling each day. By seeing trends in their mood, users can identify if they are struggling. The app also helps them take the next important self-care steps, with access to resources on many aspects of well-being, such as dealing with stress, mindfulness and breathing exercises, sleep, as well as promoting how students and staff can seek help.

THRIVE co-lead and lead researcher, Melinda McCabe, is proud of the app’s commitment to an intensive student co-design phase, which included “two large-scale trial studies with our students to better understand how we can ensure the app is designed for them to meet their needs”.

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“This included everything from design-specific questions, to functionality, to our well-being and help-seeking intention outcomes of interest,” she told EducationDaily. “Throughout the last three years, we also held countless formal and informal focus groups and local user testing sessions at every step of the development process.

The overwhelmingly positive findings were accompanied by requests for fun and interactive mindfulness, journalling, and procrastination-fighting tools.

“The main goal of the app is to help students become more aware of their mental health and to seek help early if they need it,” Ms McCabe says. “We hope all students find something within the app that they benefit from, whether it’s the journaling tools called the ‘Wheel of Feels’ and or the evidence-based Pomodoro timer to fight procrastination when their workload starts to build. We wanted something for everyone.”

Development and research testing were completed in partnership with Allianz Care Australia, which provided funding support for the extensive testing and co-design process throughout 2020 to 2023.

The THRIVE app is available to all Monash students and staff with an active Monash email address and can be downloaded for free through the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

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Because the app was designed to accompany them throughout their journey at the university, staff and students will lose access to it if they don’t have a valid Monash email account.

“But” says Ms McCabe, “we hope the mental health skills and awareness that they will build through using the app will benefit them long into the future.”


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Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]brandx.live