A REVOLUTIONARY app created by a Belfast dad to help his kids cope with exam stress is set to become a major weapon in the war against worry in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Former pharmacist Fintan Connolly is putting the finishing touches to a smartphone version of his Take Ten app after qualifying for an Innovate UK Covid crisis grant.
The app is the first to present people with a visual representation of their stress levels.
Originally developed to help relieve anxiety among schoolchildren it is now set to be rolled out generally in the near future.
Fintan hopes it will serve as a vital aid for people whose mental health suffered in the pandemic.
"A mental health tsunami has been predicted because of Covid. We are seeing the initial waves," he said.
"The vaccine will allay peoples' fears, but it is not going to help with mental health because, for many, their fears have been heightened and will remain heightened.
"With Covid, we are now starting to see kids being phobic about infection and anxious about human contact. Young people at university are also struggling with isolation.
"We will be facing a variety problems and we need to be prepared for them and have ways to manage our stress levels.
"Take Ten might be a small way of helping, but it can be part of the process and can provide strategies for people to deal with what they are facing."
Fintan came up with the app as way of helping his three kids, who are now grown up, manage stress created by school work and exam pressure.
As well as working on finishing the smartphone version of the app, he delivers workplace stress management courses.
What makes Take Ten unique is that it measures people's stress levels and provides strategies for dealing with them.
"You put your finger on the camera of your phone and the app reads your heart rate and lets you see what stress zone you are in so that you can manage stress in the moment," Fintan said.
"It will then guide you through breathing exercises designed to calm you down while displaying on the app how your body is responding so that you can actually see yourself move to a calmer state.
"It is dealing with a process that is naturally invisible, but it makes it visible so people can see the impact of our strategies."
Take Ten started life as an app for children but, after it was rolled out to more than 200 schools, teachers and mums and dads soon realised they could benefit from it too.
"We noticed that parents and teachers also wanted to use it, so the new software is designed for kids, teenagers, young adults, sportspeople, tired people, stressed people... the entire human race," Fintan said.
He also hopes that employers will come to see the app as something that could be useful in the workplace.
Take Ten is currently only available for iPad use in school settings, but anyone will be able to download it in the new year.