NOCD mental health app closes gap to wellness access

By Jake DiPaola

Elm Staff Writer

In recent years, mental health awareness has increased. Therapists are available on many college campuses and teenagers and young adults are seeking to better themselves more openly. However, it can be difficult to leave the house to get help when you are practicing social distancing in the face of a nationwide pandemic.

We face many stresses in our life and mental health can cause a great amount of stress or pain on an individual. Now that students are working from home, distractions are easy to come by, and being cooped up in your house can drive anyone crazy after three weeks.

OCD can be a major contributor to student’s daily stress, consuming thoughts and routine in a way that takes away from other important tasks such as schoolwork or jobs.

NOCD is an app that provides a variety of resources and tools to help those with OCD to find care, treatment, and support easily from the palm of their hand.

With the current quarantine we find ourselves under, therapy clinics and businesses are shut down and some may not feel safe leaving the house.

The NOCD team knows that if they target a mobile, stay-at-home tool for self-care, treatment, and therapy, they can allow a larger amount of people to help themselves.

The app, NOCD, is free to download in the app store and is available to anyone seeking treatment, support, or education about OCD.

OCD can be a troubling issue, especially when one is stuck at home for such a prolonged time. It can cause frequent, anxiety filled thoughts that could overwhelm and distract the individual from the task at hand.

For students this can be a daily source of stress and complicate their schoolwork, while struggling though online learning no less.

“Whenever you talk college, mental health is always a topic brought up. ‘How are the students doing? Are they stressed or are things working out fine?’” said Kennett Vail-Rojas, a Washington College sophomore.

However, despite the readily available therapy options on college campuses, one might sometimes feel too exhausted from having a particularly bad day, or their mental health is preventing them from putting the effort into going out and seeking help, or maybe they are stuck in their house due to an unexpected quarantine.

The NOCD app provides therapy sessions available to help treat OCD with online sessions through a live video, so you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home to pursue treatment and get the help you need.

NOCD was created because there were many who felt that treatment should not be difficult to get, and they wanted to be the ones to deliver that help. These people would become the NOCD team.

“We learned firsthand how hard it is to get any helpful information, receive a useful diagnosis, and find a specialist who’s affordable and has any availability. Eventually, we got better. But getting effective treatment for OCD shouldn’t be this hard, and people shouldn’t have to figure it all out while they’re already struggling,” according to NOCD’s website. “We feel better now, and we think you can too.”

The therapy sessions cost typical rates that insurance would normally cost, but by spring of this year, the app will allow payments to be made directly using insurance rather than price matching their costs.

The app also has a message forum where other members of the app can communicate and share their thoughts, emotions, support, and advise. While chatting with others may not be a primary treatment option, some may find it helpful to hear the stories and advise from others who have been in similar situations and overcame their challenges.

Many students believe this could be an incredibly helpful app to use on campus or anywhere.

“I think that an app such as NOCD could extremely help people by connecting them with others in similar situations. The fact of the matter is that it’s difficult reaching out to someone for help, but being in contact with people experiencing similar issues allows one to open up more without the fear of being judged,” said sophomore Michael Nichols.

One of the especially helpful treatment options offered for members of the app is Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy, or ERP therapy.

“OCD, it’s tricky because you need specific treatment for OCD. You need Exposure Response Prevention Therapy, that’s the big one, with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy,” said Ben Ruvo, sophomore. Ruvo has struggled with OCD himself and is the founder of the Openmind Gymm, an organization that is bringing OCD awareness for students with a focus on athletes.

ERP therapy involves exposing one to thoughts, objects, or images that trigger obsessive or anxious reactions while avoiding the compulsive behavior associated with that obsession.

For instance, if one is fearful of germs, they might touch a toilet seat, and then resist washing their hands immediately. It can help manage impulses and give control back to the individual. This kind of therapy is a large part of OCD treatment and is practiced by the professionals on the app. 

Ruvo is working to bring the app to WC, offering it as an official school resource so that the therapists on campus can use it for treatment and allow Ruvo and his team to better spread awareness for OCD and the app itself to the students on campus.

“Connection is one of the most important things here, because those together can work together to achieve this strong voice for change. Eliminating stigma, and fostering community,” said Nichols.

With this app, students with OCD don’t have to struggle as much as others have before them. One can find help more easily through the support of their peers and the advice of those who have overcome their struggles. This app could be a new way to look at technology as a vehicle for therapy.

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