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Removing the fear: Cumming teens create app to improve mental health
teens create app
Charlie and Hannah Lucas, created the notOK mental health app. - photo by Alexander Popp

Have you ever needed help and didn’t quite know who to call or how to ask for it? 

Two Cumming teens have created a smart phone application that they hope will take the uncertainty out of asking for help in times of crisis. 

According to notOK app creators Charlie and Hannah Lucas, the application acts as a virtual panic button, sending five pre-selected contacts a message saying “Hey, I’m not OK. Please call me, text me, or come find me” and your last known GPS location on a map. 

If the pre-selected contact has the notOK app, he or she will get a notification that you aren’t OK and will be given two simple choices to message back, “Yes, I can help” or “No, I can’t help.”

According to Hannah Lucas, the idea for notOk came to life from a dark place. In her freshman year at South Forsyth High School, Hannah Lucas began fainting throughout the day. 

Her mom, Robin Lucas, said that year Hannah fainted almost 200 times. 

“We didn’t know what was going on,” Robin Lucas said. 

Hannah was eventually diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), a rare disorder that causes fainting. She said that she became increasingly stressed and scared of having a fainting attack in public. 

“I became terrified to leave my house. Thoughts like ‘What if I hit my head and there’s no one around?’ and ‘what if I fainted near creepy people?’ Fear influenced my every move,” she said. 

Hannah’s fear of her disorder led to depression and eventually self-harm.

“My mom was my rock throughout everything. She was holding me one night after a rough day; we were both crying. In my hysterics, I cried out ‘I wish there was an app that could notify people when I was about to faint.’ The idea stuck with me and the notOk app was born.”

Hannah said that her family rallied around the idea and that her 13-year-old brother Charlie even created the prototype of notOK. 

“One morning, she told me about an idea for an app she had and I figured, maybe this was one way I could actually help her,” Charlie Lucas said. 

Added Charlie: “At first it was to help my sister, but now I realize she’s not the only person going through tough issues. I want to not only help people struggling, but I also want to show other kids they can start a business if they have an idea.”

Hannah said that her struggles with POTS have led to more than just an app — through the experience she said she has gained a new positive purpose in life.

“I can 100 percent say that I will grow up to help people. I mean, if I sit here waiting for someone else to do it, it may never get done … I dream that one day notOk will not only be an app, but a movement because let’s face it, “it’s OK to be notOK,”’ she said.

The notOK app will officially launch internationally on Jan. 31, but it is currently available in the iOS and Android app store for download.

Hannah has since gotten help for her depression and for POTS, and according to Robin Lucas her fainting attacks have dropped into the single digits. 

“My number one takeaway is that no matter what you are going through, you will get beauty for your ashes. Just hold out a little longer and keep fighting the good fight of faith,” Hannah said.