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Ground-breaking Mental Health App for Youth Launches Today - Coast Capital Savings funds “BoosterBuddy” a first of its kind initiative

September 18, 2014

VICTORIA — Island Health, Victoria Hospitals Foundation and Coast Capital Savings today announced the launch of BoosterBuddy, a ground-breaking mobile app designed to give youth a boost to their mental health.

One in five young people experience mental health challenges, but youth can be difficult to reach through conventional services. The free app is the first of its kind to use a gamified approach to help youth experiencing psychosis, anxiety or depression.

BoosterBuddy, which is now available for download on Apple and Android mobile devices, was funded by Coast Capital Savings through a $150,000 donation to the Foundation’s Building Care Together campaign.

“Our role as a hospital foundation is to facilitate a partnership between private donors and the care providers who want to improve patient care through innovation,” said Gord Macatee, Victoria Hospitals Foundation Vice Chair. “When donors make something happen that wouldn’t otherwise be possible, and it changes people’s lives for the better, it is a magical moment. This is charitable giving at its best. ”

BoosterBuddy uses video game design elements that guide users through a series of daily quests to help establish and maintain positive habits. The Island Health development team collaborated with youth peer mentors to conceive, design and test the app throughout its development.

“It was phenomenal to be here today to see the hard work of the committed staff at Island Health and the youth design team come to fruition,” said Lewisa Anciano, Vice President, People at Coast Capital Savings. “Coast Capital Savings is committed to helping build a richer future for youth in our communities by investing in programs that foster strong mental health. Through supporting initiatives like Island Health’s new BoosterBuddy app, more young people will have the tools they require to positively address mental health issues like stress and depression that may be preventing them from pursuing the rich, fulfilling lives they desire.”

BoosterBuddy works as an interactive ‘buddy’ in the shape of a fox, rabbit or raccoon. By checking-in and completing daily healthy-behaviour “quests”, users wake up their sleeping buddy, advance to higher levels in the game and earn virtual coins they can trade for hats and other accessories for their buddy. Among its many features, the leading-edge app offers youth help with:

    • Coping skills
    • Getting started on tasks
    • Following self-care routines
    • Appointment and medication tracking
    • Daily check-ins on how they are feeling
    • Increasing real-life socialization
    • Having a crisis plan

Because of the toll early psychosis symptoms can take on their mental health, youth who experience schizophrenia and other mental health challenges can often find it difficult to monitor or adhere to their medication regime and engage in healthy behaviour that improves their quality of life.

“We are proud of  our Mental Health and Substance Use  team’s work to develop this innovative app with youth, and grateful to Victoria Hospitals Foundation and Coast Capital Savings for their generous donation.” said Dr. Brendan Carr, Island Health President and CEO.  “BoosterBuddy is designed by young people who serve as peer mentors to help other youth struggling with mental health issues to get control over their own wellbeing.”

The BoosterBuddy app will be shared with health jurisdictions across the country and is now available as a free download on Apple iTunes and Google Android. You can download the app here: www.viha.ca/boosterbuddy.

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About the Victoria Hospitals Foundation and the Building Care Together Campaign:

Victoria Hospitals Foundation works in partnership with Island Health to enable donations to Vancouver Island’s two largest and most comprehensive hospitals: the Royal Jubilee and the Victoria General. Since 1989, the Victoria Hospitals Foundation has raised nearly $97 million to benefit our hospitals. Building Care Together is the third and most ambitious campaign in the Foundation’s history. The campaign raised $25.2 million to support the purchase of state-of-the-art equipment for the new Patient Care Centre at Royal Jubilee Hospital. To learn more, visit www.victoriahf.ca.

About Coast Capital Savings:

Coast Capital Savings is Canada’s second largest credit union, owned by its 512,000 members. It has 50 branches in the Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island regions of British Columbia and has exciting plans to grow. Product innovations include Canada's first free chequing account from a full-service financial institution. Coast Capital offers one of Canada's 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures™ and was named one of 2014’s BC Top Employers. It is a member of Canada's Best Managed Companies Platinum Club and an Imagine Canada Caring Company. To learn more, visit www.coastcapitalsavings.com.

About Island Health:

With more than 18,000 healthcare professionals and 1,900 physician partners, Island Health provides health care to over 765,000 people on Vancouver Island, the islands of the Georgia Strait, and in the mainland communities north of Powell River and south of Rivers Inlet. Committed to providing exceptional patient experience, excellence in quality and safety, community focused healthcare and being a great place to work, Island Health strives to provide excellent health and care for everyone, everywhere and every time. To learn more visit www.viha.ca.

Media Contacts

Victoria Hospitals Foundation Media Contact:

Susan Gee, Director, Development
250-893-1823, susan.gee@viha.ca

Coast Capital Savings Media Contact:

Tom Leslie, Media Relations
604-648-3430, Tom.Leslie@edelman.com

Island Health Media Contact:

Sarah Plank, Media Relations Manager
250-727-4275
sarah.plank@viha.ca