Closegap is a nonprofit organization that offers a free app designed to help students with their mental health and wellbeing.
The app is aimed at use by teachers, school counselors, social workers, and admins to be worked on with students. Not only does this aim to help students but also to better track their mental health, day to day.
The app was created for K-12 students primarily as a way to support mental health through good practices and offer early crisis intervention. Developed alongside students, teachers, counselors, social workers, and admins, this offers real-world support that's proven to be effective.
This is backed by research from the likes of Yale, Harvard, Great Good in Education, and the Child Mind Institute. So could Closegap be useful in your school?
What is Closegap?
Closegap is an app designed to monitor and help maintain the mental health of K-12 students. It is designed to be used in conjunction with educators and support staff to help students on a daily basis.
Used in more than 3,000 schools across 50 states as well as in 25 countries worldwide, this is a well-established and proven tool. While this is designed to monitor students effectively, it does so in a way that frees up time for educators thanks to group data monitoring.
Using a daily check-in system this allows students to not only feel heard and cared for each day, but also to take that crucial time to see how they are feeling. Taking that time alone is invaluable but when combined with these powerful tools and data, recordings this becomes even more effective.
Everything is built to super high safety standards and, as such, Closegap is FERPA, COPPA, and GDPR compliant.
How does Closegap work?
Closegap is available online so it can be accessed using a web browser on most devices. The initial setup can take time but once done doesn't need to be revisited.
Educators first need to create an account, for free. You can then add other staff members to the system before inviting students to join. They you create classrooms that will allow students of varying ages to have the system tailored to their abilities and needs. Finally, setup the time for check-in each day and you're ready to start.
Students check-in daily, answering questions matched with visually engaging images, usually emotionally focused. These are met with encouraging and supportive responses and can lead to questions and answers to help further guide students. All in all, it should take about five minutes each day to check-in fully.
Educators are then able to view a hub screen showing all the check-in data. Any students who are struggling will be clearly highlighted so that appropriate action can be taken and support offered as needed. Since this is done daily, it's an excellent way to monitor and help students before they begin to struggle.
What are the best Closegap features?
Closegap is super simple to use and tailors its interface to suit PK-2, 3-5, and 6-12 specifically. While this could be a little simple for older students, it's ideal for the younger age range and requires very little guidance from educators.
Students are directed to a library of self-guided activities based on their needs that day. All the SEL activities take no more than two minutes and are CASEL Core Competencies-aligned as well as being approved by mental health clinicians.
Some activities include:
- Box-Breathing - guiding students to breath for a number of seconds to help calm them
- Shake It Out - to encourage freeing movements
- Gratitude List - to encourage thinking about what they have in order to feel more appreciative
- Power Pose - to use body language to guide feelings
- Journaling - to help express trauma
- Let It Go! - using Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) to lower stress
- Safe Space - to move into a calm state
How much does Closegap cost?
Closegap is run by a nonprofit organization, which offers the application entirely for free. This is available via a web browser and doesn't use a lot of power, making it available on most device, even older ones.
There are no ads and beyond basic details to get the system running, nothing personal is needed, and everything is super secure.
Closegap best tips and tricks
Closegap is a great tool but should be used in conjunction with face-to-face time with students who may need it – before, not just while they are struggling.
Make it safe
For students who might not want to bring home struggles into the safety of school, or those afraid of sharing in school, make it clear how secure and safe this app is – perhaps offering a private space for their check-ins so they can feel comfortable.
Introducing how to use this is great but also maintaining that with regular meetups and feedback is also important to keep students actively engaged.