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Project SAM: Developing an app to provide self-help for anxiety

Topham, Phil; Caleb-Solly, Praminda; Matthews, Paul

Project SAM: Developing an app to provide self-help for anxiety Thumbnail


Phil Topham

Praminda Caleb-Solly

Paul Matthews


An interdisciplinary team at the University of the West of England (UWE) was commissioned and funded to develop a mobile phone app which would provide self-help options for the management of mild to moderate anxiety. The completed app would extend the range and availability of
psychological support for student well-being at UWE and other higher education institutions.

The project team consisted of two computer scientists and one psychologist who were responsible for the technical, functional and clinical specification of the app. A local mobile app development company was appointed and the teams collaborated on the design, build and evaluation of the app. The self-help structure and components were developed in consultation with therapeutic practitioners, in and out of UWE. The developer team advised on and constructed multi-media features to realise the self-help aims of the app.

The UWE project team promoted an iterative approach to development, evaluating each stage of development through trials with expert users, practitioners and students. The app, named SAM (Self-help for Anxiety Management), was developed for Apple and Android operating systems, to be usable on smartphones and tablets.

SAM was launched in the app stores in July 2013, globally available and free to download for the first year of operation. It was promoted to students, educational institutions, mental health organisations and charities as well as a range of professional and informal contacts.

A UWE-based Advisory Board was convened to oversee the maintenance and development of the university’s investment in SAM. Members include the project team, researchers, therapists and other staff with an interest in its use to support student well-being. Three key tasks of the Board are to ensure SAM’s financial sustainability, to oversee developments in its usability and self-help components, and to obtain funding for the evaluation of its therapeutic impact.


Topham, P., Caleb-Solly, P., & Matthews, P. (2015). Project SAM: Developing an app to provide self-help for anxiety

Report Type Project Report
Publication Date Oct 1, 2015
Publicly Available Date Jun 5, 2019
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords mobile app, mental health app, self-help app, anxiety management app, app usability, app design, app development, therapeutic app, user engagement, humanistic app, CBT app
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