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Student designs web app to help people with ongoing illness

Canterbury student designs web app to help people with ongoing illness

May 5, 2014

A University of Canterbury student who graduated last month has designed a new web app which will enable people with ongoing health difficulties to explore their identity and learn that they are not defined by their illness.

The new website app, Beautiful Identities, will help people create a private profile and follow prompts to learn about maintaining their identity while experiencing mental and physical issues.

The app has been created by Hazel Guyan and will help people look at their identity in a visual format to consider things they may have overlooked.

``Beautiful Identities is designed to help young people experiencing chronic physical or mental difficulties to explore other aspects of their character so that they do not feel judged by their illness.

``The current website is a blog with thoughts on living well with illness, and has been getting 100 views a week.

``Although it can be used by anyone with an ongoing illness, it is particularly intended to be used by young people who have recently been diagnosed with an illness, and are still coming to terms with how it will impact their life.’’

An estimated 29 percent of New Zealanders between 16and 24 years old have a mental disorder in a 12 month period, according to the Mental Health Commission. More than 23,000 young people used secondary mental health services in the year ending June 2008, according to the Ministry of Health.

Guyan has received support from the University’s Innovators manager Dr Rachel Wright. Over the summer, while working with Dr Wright, Guyan carried out research and market validation for her app and received positive feedback from non-government organisations, medical professionals and patients.

``Many people believed there is significant need for something like this, as people can use it in their own time. There was a general consensus that identity is hugely impacted by a diagnosis of ongoing illness.

``Beautiful Identities is planning to become a charitable trust and expand services from the web into the world of face-to-face interaction.

``We have launched a crowd-funding campaign ( to raise funds for the web app and for promoting the web app once completed. I am seeking to get into public health and the community sector where the web app will be useful.’’


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