Just in Case app to provide sexual assault resources to students

Campuses are revamping the Just in Case app to provide sexual assault resources to students. Originally developed for suicide prevention, the app is a way to get potentially life-saving resources directly to students when they need it.

The sexual assault portion of the app is believed to increase the dialogue about sexual assault resources on campus, and is one more way to reduce the stigma a survivor faces. The sexual assault portion of the app is for students, but it’s targeted to help faculty and staff provide resources to pass on to students in need, and make reports.

An “electronic brochure of resources” is how Dr. Bruce Herman, director of the Counseling Center at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) describes the University’s Just in Case app. The University of Maryland Baltimore County’ app features a student version and a faculty and staff version, each with tailored resources depending on the user. They are currently in the process of developing a parent app, which will provide the proper resources for helping their child in times of distress.

“Contrary to how it was in previous generations, students see their parents as a resource,” Dr. Herman says. Based on the Healthy Minds Study, students are more likely to go to their parents before, or shortly after going to a friend if they’re struggling, which is why this app is extremely important for parents, Dr. Herman explains.

Launched in fall 2013 in conjunction with the start of the semester, the student version of the app has seen more than 2,400 users in the past 13 months and has not flat-lined at any point. Dr. Melissa Lean, psychologist for the University’s Counseling Services at UMBC explains that the app is being utilized at least once or twice per day, and some days it’s being using 70 or 80 times a day, which is a great sign.

Funded in part by a grant from the Verizon Foundation for relationship violence prevention, “If it’s helped one person, the app is worth the cost overall. It provides people with the security they need,” Dr. Lean says.

According to Dr. Lean, students, faculty and staff seem to appreciate the Just in Case app. The app is constantly updated when there is an update in protocol around sexual assault reporting - It’s the one-stop-shop for emergency resources.

UMBC isn’t the only university using the app for sexual violence awareness. Pace University – Westchester Campuses adopted the Just in Case app and has tailored it to provide sexual assault resources for its students.

“As national attention on this issue on college campuses grows, we feel this part of the app provides all members of our community with vital information and resources, literally at their fingertips,” Dr. Lauren Saler, assistant director and senior staff psychologist at Pace University – Pleasantville Campus explains about the sexual assault portion of her campus’ Just in Case app.

The app is very user-friendly and easily available to its students. According to Dr. Saler, “It’s a natural part of students’ lives to have apps about everything and anything. They gladly download the app, and it’s been a tremendous resource for students, faculty and staff, giving them important basic mental health information and safety in times of crisis.”

In addition to information about coping, helping a friend, fearing self-harm, and getting help at the University, Pace University’s Just in Case app focuses on three other important areas: sexual assault help, alcohol and drug help, and alcohol and drug emergency.

The sexual assault help portion of the app provides clear and specific information about sexual assault – a list of what to do, details about how to help someone, and many resources available at the University, in the local community, nationally, and online. The app also refers students to the Circle of 6 preventative app, a violence prevention support group for college students. 

Recently integrated into Pace University’s “MyPace” app, and now including information for the Pace University- New York City campus and for faculty and staff to aid in student referrals, the app continues to evolve after its launch.

Funded by Pace University’s Counseling Center, the cost of the app is reasonable given the cost structure offered by the developers and the wealth of information and resources it provides the entire Pace community.  

The Just in Case app was developed by eReadia. NASPA institutions get preferred rates to develop the Just in Case app on their campuses. For more information, visit the Just in Case site or contact Will DeLamater for details.