The UK’s first free peer-to-peer support app has arrived in West Yorkshire.
The Unmasked app is the brainchild of three Calderdale men, Logan Smith, Robin Cunningham and Doug Dennison, and is used in a bid to help people living with mental-ill health find friendship and support, whatever their state of mind.
The app is designed to enable users to create bonds with people they would not ordinarily meet, to bridge a gap between appointments with mental health specialists.
Unmasked co-founder, Doug Dennison, who is based in Halifax, said: “Users can find others of a similar age, in their local area or those who suffer from a similar illness.
"They can remain anonymous if they prefer to, or they can choose to appear as themselves."
The system helps people form friendships with other users with mental health issues – users can search by age, location and illness to chat with peers to give and receive support in times of need. This app is a 24/7, 365 days a year support platform, aiming to cover the whole of the UK.
“The app is designed to help people access the support they need on a day to day basis because sometimes all someone needs is a message of support to say ‘I know what you’re going through and I understand.’ We hope this app will provide that," said Mr Dennison.
"Safeguarding is one of our highest priorities and the system recognises certain keywords or derogatory terms and will alert the moderators to avoid any kind of bullying or harassment.
"The app is all about support and encouragement and users can give as much or as little information about themselves as they feel comfortable with.
“We've now been in contact with major corporate organisations, who have shown great interest in supporting there positive wellbeing of their workforce to help rescue the stigma of mental ill health within the workplace.
"Unmasked Mental Health provides support to like-minded change seekers in a genuine and personal way.
"Helping them to feel secure and live life confidently.”
The free app is built around research and consultation with a number of mental health charities and agencies in the UK.
Users can choose to appear masked (using an emoji to convey their state of mind) or unmasked as themselves.
Users of Unmasked can block or report other users and, in vulnerable times can press an alert button, which automatically dials through to the Samaritans crisis line.
Halifax's Samaritans branch can be contacted on 01422 349349, and is located on 29 Harrison Road.
Unmasked Mental Health meet at 7pm every Thursday for both men and women at locations: Kingcross Fire Station, Sowerby Bridge Tesco, Brighouse Tesco, and Mytholmroyd Community Centre.
Download the Unmasked Mental Health app at: unmaskedmentalhealth.co.uk