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HE emergency app sees “surge” of concern

An emergency app for the HE sector operating out of Australia has had a “surge” of mental health related calls since the outbreak of Covid-19.

Some 91% of calls to Sonder are mental health related. Photo: Sonder

“Sonder is providing advice on the latest health and medical information and facilitated health care for serious medical cases”

Sonder, an Australian tech start up providing 24/7 on-demand physical and psychological support, has reported that since the outbreak started, 91% of the calls it receives are now mental health-related.

“We check in on people who are self-isolating, particularly their psychological wellbeing”

“Mental health support is emerging as the major issue during coronavirus – many employees and international students are anxious, misinformed and isolated,” said co-founder Christopher Marr.

“The international education sector is facing unprecedented situations including travel restrictions, a sudden move to online learning and the closure of recreational facilities, which is throwing up a range of practical and psychological issues.” 

Sonder is providing advice on the latest health and medical information and facilitated health care for serious medical cases.

The app, which took off because of its GPS-tracking facilitated safety features, works with a wide network of students, many of whom are international.

Sonder features include a network of “in-person responders with emergency services experience”, which has meant the app is popular with students moving to a new country.

Its team also provides specialist emergency and mental health aid to people who are distressed and in need of immediate support.

“We check in on people who are self-isolating, particularly their psychological wellbeing, we check in on people working from home,” elaborated Marr.

“We help people work out what to do if they have symptoms, believe they have been exposed or know someone who has been exposed.”

The company was established in response to a growing demand from Australian universities and student accommodation providers looking to support foreign students experiencing mental health, medical or personal safety concerns but unfamiliar with where or how to seek help.

Australia’s largest purpose-built student accommodation provider, Scape, is also a client.

“Scape has been innovating and leading as a first response to Covid-19 to support both students and staff in this difficult environment,” Scape executive chairman Craig Carracher said.

“When you’re hearing mixed messages and are in a situation where you simply don’t know what to do, having someone to talk to either on the phone or in person is invaluable,” he said.

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