By Kelly Werthmann
DENVER (CBS4)– On a device that’s almost always within arm’s reach, there is a new way for those struggling with mental wellness to reach out.
“We’re a mental wellness platform,” Jeff Dorchester said of his new app.
Dorchester co-created iRel8.org. It’s a sort of chat room-style app that allows users to anonymously engage with others who can relate to their issues, such as depression, anxiety or PTSD.
“The peer to peer piece gives people going through issues the ability to talk to people who have been through those issues and understand what they might be experiencing,” Dorchester told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann. “We see this in other support groups, like AA, where it’s a group of people who create a small community of trust, values and support and they’re there for each other.”
Dorchester came up with the idea after battling depression himself. He said, though, the real “ah-ha” moment for iRel8.org was when a friend tried to commit suicide.
“When I started talking to him about [the app] and saying, ‘Would this have been something that would’ve been useful to you?’ he said, ‘Oh my gosh! Completely! 100 percent!’” Dorchester explained.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 25 percent of U.S. adults have a mental illness. The stigmas surrounding mental illness often keep people from asking for help, sometimes people cannot connect with clinical counselors and others cannot afford it.
“We are trying to be a supplement for the day to day need,” Dorchester said. “We’re trying to help people that can’t get that clinical help.”
For $1 a month, Dorchester said users can subscribe to join the iRel8.org network. The hope is they’ll find the help they need and perhaps help others like them along the way.
“By opening up, maybe we can change more than just the issues [in the U.S], we can do it everywhere,” he said.
The iRel8.org app is still in the testing phase, but Dorchester said the goal is to have it up and running for iPhone and Android users by February.
Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team as the morning reporter in 2012. After serving as weekend morning anchor, Kelly is now Covering Colorado First for CBS4 News at 10. Connect with Kelly on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @KellyCBS4.