BYU’s Diljeet Taylor launches ‘Status Strong’ app for mental health
BYU women’s cross country and distance coach Diljeet Taylor launched a mental health app called ‘Status Strong’ in September in order to stay in touch with her athletes’ well-being and to inspire individuals across the nation to check in on their loved ones.
The app has had more than 4,000 downloads in just a couple of weeks.
“This is something I wanted for five or six years,” Taylor said. “Over that time I’ve had this idea of how great it would be if everyday I could just kind of gauge how they were doing … more of a holistic approach to coaching, rather than just physical, also your mental and emotional side. I was looking for something that didn’t exist, and so I thought I need to be the one to create this.”
Taylor said that there were five suicides last spring in the NCAA, and that was what gave her the final push to take this idea and put it into action. Status Strong allows athletes to identify when they start feeling a certain way, and keep themselves accountable with another person checking in on them.
Stormie Sickler, associate head cross country coach and assistant track and field coach at the University of Northern Colorado, shared her thoughts after her team started using the app. “What I love most about it is the girls can share their statuses with each other and myself, if they so choose. This can help us all be able to know how someone is feeling about themselves on a given day. With the right team culture and by utilizing this app, they can help one another just by small interactions,” Sickler said.
From a coaching perspective, Sickler said that “this app recognizes that before being a student, before being an athlete, the young adults we work with daily are humans. They are going to have stressors and emotions that sometimes are hard to articulate. We also recognize that sometimes it is hard to ask for help. Status bridges that gap by taking away the nerve racking conversations of ‘struggling’ by simply expressing how they feel when they update their status.”
Status Strong is simple and easy to use. When individuals open the app, they are prompted to rate themselves from low (red) to high (green) on different categories, including motivation, joy, sleep, recovery, stress & anxiety, gratitude, self-worth and overall mental health, Taylor said.
After taking just a few moments to rate yourself, the results are saved so that users can look at the bigger picture, including their 7-day and 30-day results. Status also allows users to establish accountability partners to help them with their mental wellness.
Kathryn Gay, a 39-year-old jogger from Saint Johns, Florida, talked about her own struggle with physical and mental health. After taking an 18-month break from running due to her mental health struggle, she experienced a stress fracture in her femur that made the return to running even more gradual. When she downloaded Status Strong, she realized that it was just what she needed.
“The app has made it very clear how important exercise is for my mental health. On the days where I don’t exercise, my check in reflects that. It was really interesting to see it so glaringly obvious after using it for a couple of weeks,” Gay said.
Taylor said that at the cross country meet in Oregon, several parents from different universities approached her and told her that they had already downloaded the app and started using it to keep in touch with their children.
She is hopeful that every high school student with a smartphone downloads the app. This way, parents will have a way to monitor how their children are feeling and make sure that their kids do a daily check in.
“It changes the way I interact with my family and with my team, depending on where they’re at… In my coaching, when I know someone is struggling or they’ve had a bad day, I’ll coach from a different place rather than just expecting them to be 100%,” Taylor said. Taylor’s goal is to direct athletes to professionals that can help them if they have been struggling with their mental health for a while. She hopes that as they are going through these emotions, they are also growing through these emotions.