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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A local pastor and researchers at OU Health are coming together – trying to reach those struggling with their mental health.

It’s no secret the pandemic has had a massive impact on mental health, and they hope a smartphone app will help bring resources and relief.

“Sometimes we as people of faith, we say we just want to pray everything away,” said Pastor Derrick Scobey at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. “When we break our leg, we trust the doctor, but then we don’t want to sometimes trust the doctor with mental health.”

Scobey wants his congregation – and community – to know that mental health is something he’s struggled with first-hand.

“I went through a serious bout of depression after my surgery, and it’s not something that for a while I didn’t want to really tell anyone but then I realized that I needed to get it out of the dark,” Scobey said. 

He believes an app being studied at OU Health Sciences Center can help others struggling in silence.

The app is called EASE – short for Easing Anxiety Sensitivity for Everyone.

Twice a day, the app asks you to fill out a short survey about how your day is going.

It also provides tools to improve your mood.

“If you click relaxation exercises we have videos that will help you relax in that moment,” said Michael Businelle, Ph.D., with the OU Health Sciences Center. 

Participants in the study can earn up to $360 over six months.

Researchers and local leaders like Pastor Scobey hope that incentive will help them enroll 800 participants in Oklahoma and Texas.

“To have people like Pastor Derrick Scobey who are willing to come forward and support our research, I think, makes it easier for people in the community to participate,” said Adam Alexander, Ph.D. with the OU Health Sciences Center. 

“I just thought that it was something that our community needed to be aware of – and when I say our community, I’m not talking about just African-American community,” Scobey said. “Our community as a whole needed to be aware of this.”

If you’d like to apply to participate, head to the screener website.