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Graduate Student Creates Campus Wellness App That Gathers Natural Mental Health Resources in One Place

Jessica Piland

One FGCU graduate student created a campus wellness app after sensing a demand for natural mental health resources himself. He felt the need to create a space where students could go as a one-stop-shop for the support they are looking for. 

Jack Hellmer, a second-year graduate student pursuing a Master of Science in Entrepreneurship, hasn’t always had the outlook on mental health that he has today.

As a sophomore at FGCU, Hellmer experienced life-altering experiences during his summer break. In June, his childhood dog of 15 years, as well as his uncle whom he was very close with, passed away. He said this was one of the first times he experienced the weight of anxiety. 

“When it comes to anxiety, I had never experienced those physical symptoms,” Hellmer said. “You know, there’s the anxiousness before giving a speech or a presentation, but this was something that wasn’t leaving.”

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After weeks of constant discomfort, Hellmer sought out help through therapy. 

“During my first session, I was recommended medication, and it really threw me off because my first thought was that everybody goes through this at some point in their life, they deal with grief,” Hellmer said. “They deal with close people in their life passing away and also they deal with stressors. So I thought, right out the gate, why don’t I try to figure out some natural ways to do this?”

Over the next few months, he did everything he could do to help himself. He started doing deep breathing exercises, meditation and affirmations. He started working out and going to the sauna. He even changed his diet, reduced his caffeine intake and drank more water. He saw a lot of improvement and wanted to help others who may be going through the same things. 

When he came back to school that fall, he talked to friends about how they endure their anxiety symptoms and found that most of them had unhealthy coping habits. Hellmer shared videos and tips with his friends, and they started seeing results. This is when the initial concept of UBYou was born. 

“And then my entrepreneurial mind started to come into play. What if I tried taking all these natural things and putting them together? Because I was just giving this knowledge and resources out to people, just as you know, here’s a link or here’s, you know, whatever,” Hellmer said. “So I thought, what if I could just make up a hub of all these things?”

In December of 2019, Hellmer entered his first concept of the app into the Rist Family Foundation Institute for Entrepreneurship’s Runway Program which gives participants the opportunity to pitch for equity-free seed funding to launch their businesses. He didn’t receive any funding.

In the spring, everything changed. Students were sent home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Hellmer used the free time to his advantage. After researching and refining his idea, he submitted his idea to the program for the second time. He received $4,000 in funding, which he used to get his first prototype. 

Over time, he had students test it and said he wanted to hear their feedback. He said it was the student input that really led UBYou to where it is today. 

“My favorite features are the ‘Wellness Check-In’ and ‘Progress Tracker,’” senior Allison Sanchez said. “Sometimes it’s hard to see improvement in myself so having a physical representation of my progress is so helpful.”

Hellmer started to incorporate the most common features students were suggesting and continued to enter the Runway Program for several semesters. 

Jessica Piland

In 2021, he met with FGCU’s fourth president, Dr. Michael Martin, and presented him with the idea. After refining the idea more, Dr. Martin agreed that students should have access to UBYou. Hellmer has been working with administration, students and community partners on the best ways to integrate the app around campus. 

Once the FGCU-specialized part of the app launches, students will be able to sign in with their FGCU credentials and have access to information that is exclusive to them including a direct line to CAPS resources. 

One feature of UBYou is the “Wellness Check-In”, which is a five-question survey that asks how someone is doing, how they’re feeling and why they feel this way. If a student feels okay, they can check in and utilize other resources on the app. But if they need additional help, it will provide the person with tailored resources based on their responses. 

“Let’s say a student [is] struggling with an upcoming exam,” Hellmer said. “It will seamlessly connect them to the Center for Academic Achievement where they can book an appointment right through the app.”

Hellmer said that the app features over 200 campus resources, all in one place. 

There’s also a section for meditation that has videos for deep breathing exercises, meditating and positive affirmations. 

“One of my classes, Effective Speaking, has us meditate to calm down and focus on speaking freely without being anxious. The ‘Breathe In’ and ‘Meditation’ tabs on the app have been great for this,” freshman Tate Mucha said. 

UBYou is currently available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. In the coming weeks, the app will have FGCU-specialized components available to all students. 

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About the Contributors
Tori Foltz
Tori Foltz, Executive Editor
Tori Foltz is a junior double majoring in political science and journalism with a concentration in public relations and a minor in interdisciplinary studies. She is from St. Petersburg, FL, and has always had a passion for writing. She has known she wanted to be a journalist since her first journalism class in her freshman year of high school. Her goal now is to be a political journalist. When she’s not writing in the newsroom or sending emails, you can find her spending her free time reading romance books, watching the Gilmore Girls, or hanging out with her friends.
Jessica Piland
Jessica Piland, Eagle News Photo Editor
Jessica Piland is a senior majoring in political science and minoring in global studies. She found her passion for photography during her senior year of high school after shooting some film for fun with her grandfather’s camera from the 80s. In addition to her work as photo editor for Eagle News, she works as a staff photographer for FGCU Athletics and is a photography intern with the University Marketing and Communications department. As she enters her third year as photo editor, she is excited for the fun stories, campus events, and breaking news that Eagle News will be covering!

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