By Caroline LeCour
Two students at The University of Connecticut are aiming to uplift others with their new website focused on spreading support for mental health.
Jamison Cote, a fifth-semester digital media and design major, and his co-founder Alex Kim, a fifth-semester finance major, have created Refreshr, a mental health campaign and website all about sending positive messages to those in need.
“It’s like a mental health campaign revolved around helping students, you know, kind of connect to the college community and with each other by sending one-way videos of encouragement and positivity,” said Cote.
The premise of Refreshr is to first, sign up for the platform to be matched with another user. Then you will exchange a positive message to send to your match through video.
Cote and Kim explain they both got the idea for the project while taking an entrepreneurial journey class this past spring.
“We [Kim] had the same mentor in the spring, his name is Noah Friedman. He basically started a campaign called ‘6 Feet Closer’ which would basically connect frontline workers and just regular people who wanted to thank these workers for what they were doing to help people during the pandemic. We really liked that idea, myself and Alex, and we decided we wanted to do kind of the same thing,” said Cote.
Cote explained that the push for creating a website like this also stems from the uncertainties that many students have been feeling after the start of the coronavirus pandemic and the shift to online school.
“With having some people like myself being remote; we don’t really have access to friends and all these activities that we’re normally used to while being on campus and you know some people may be suffering from a loss of a loved one due to COVID-19 or in financial hardships due to parents being unemployed,” said Cote.
Cote adds that pulling both college and outside communities together can help spread encouragement and support for others during the highs and lows of life.
According to Active Minds, 39% of college students are diagnosed with a mental health illness and 66% of students do not seek treatment for their mental health.
The website already has a handful of users’ positive messages on their front page, with a mission statement video explaining the importance of supporting one another during difficult times.
Cote requests that users get creative and add a personal touch when sending messages through Refreshr.
“As long as it’s positive, it’s encouraging and it’s personal so we really want you in the video to mention the other person’s name to really personalize the message and make the person feel special- that’s really the main goal,” said Cote.
Users can sign up for a weekly newsletter which includes information on mental health, tips on coping through quarantine and the occasional funny video.
Refreshr also has an Instagram account @refreshrcampaign, where they post inspirational photos, quotes and videos.
Cote encourages everyone to share a message through Refreshr — even a few encouraging words can go a long way.
“Every one of us is going through something. It might be as little as, you know, you can’t see your friends or as big as a loss of a loved one, but you know it doesn’t matter,” he said. “We all could use some encouragement and as our title goes, we all need a refresher sometimes.”