Virtual Wellness

After seeing a increase in mental health issues, a group of girls created a new app, A’OIA, to help manage and improve a user’s mental health.


Tessa Regan, Writer

Seeking to enter into Technovation, a worldwide competition in which girls solve real-world problems in their community using technology, junior Ana Cecilia Gutierrec said finding the right team to create an app was not a struggle.

“I wanted to include friends I knew that had special skills that could really contribute to the app,” Gutierrec said. “So we got all together and we all liked the idea.”

The girls began working in November of 2019, junior Megan Rysko said. Finding a topic to base the project on, Rysko said came to them after noticing the need for a space to help manage and improve one’s mental health through a platform that was easy to reach.   

“There has been like a huge increase in mental health[-related issues] in the past few years and especially now,” Rysko said. “We figured that something our generation uses a lot was our phones and having an app for that would be a great way to help reach our generation.”

The name of the app, A’OIA, comes from a Hawaiian term which means ‘you’ve got it.’ Gutierrec said the phrase stuck out to the group as a great way to describe all that the app provides for the user.

“We thought it had a really cool meaning and could encapsulate the idea of what we wanted to spread which was the sense of encouragement, and a cool environment to grow,” Gutierrec said. 

As of now, the app has four different features programmed into it, with one new feature in the making. The first feature, the home page, consists of a daily quote and a personal journal where the user can log daily thoughts, Rysko said. 

From the home page, Rysko said the user may visit one of four pages. The Help screen provides direct hotlines and numbers if one is in need for immediate assistance. The second page is Collections, which includes numerous articles to allow the user to learn more about mental health. The third section is the counselor page which directs the user with someone working with the Crisis Text Line, someone to talk to when the situation is not an emergency, but in the need for advice. The final feature, the community feature, has not yet been added but will act as a platform for the user to communicate with other people on the app about questions, personal experiences and a discussion platform.    

Throughout the creation of the app, volunteer Shan Yang was a mentor for the team and provided assistance in the coding and business parts of the competition,  Gutierrec said.

Along with Gutierrec and Rysko, juniors Marguerite Dyke and Cydney Willenbring were members of Team Catalysts, the team name for the group. While working with the group of girls, Yang said she noticed how well the team was able to work together in tackling such a large task. 

“They seemed to have quite a lot of unity in terms of what they wanted to tackle and how they wanted to go about it, and this group just had a really good mix of dynamics in personalities,” Yang said. 

Currently the app is only available for android use, but looking long term, Rysko said she hopes to see much more development as well as funding for the app. 

“Looking forward, we’d love to raise money, so we can promote it through advertisements [and reach] a wider variety of people. And really we’d love to potentially put on a fundraising event so we could bring in more money for the app, but also just donate that to other mental health organizations,” Rysko said.

Once available for use, Yang said she believes the impact the app will have is greater than the competition and winning. The winner will be announced in mid August, Yang said. 

 “I really feel that this is making a bigger difference beyond the competition whether we win or lose. This is more than a competition, but this is leaving a legacy. Especially the fact that they chose mental health, especially during this time, is going to be a huge help and a blessing to many people,” Yang said. 

Team World Catalysts