An app to help DC residents prevent and cope with gun violence

In a city marred by shootings, there’s now an app available to help D.C. residents prevent gun violence. The Healing Outlet app is also geared toward helping people recover when gun violence affects their lives.

The Healing Outlet app. (Credit The Healing Outlet)

“A lot of people who are working in violence intervention, including safe passage workers and violence interrupters, said they really need a centralized place where they can hand off resources,” said Kathryn Russell, COO of The Healing Outlet. “A lot of the VIs and safe passage workers are people with lived experience, who want to help their community and might not know all the resources. … The app is going to make it really seamless to easily get access to grief support and mental health help, which often is very inaccessible to communities.”

The app also includes video vignettes created by people in the community. The videos touch on topics including gun violence, domestic violence and bullying. The videos aim to give app users an instant connection to community.

“They’re no shorter than three minutes, no longer than 10 minutes, easy to engage and watch,” said Charnal Chaney, CEO of the Healing Outlet.

Chaney said the videos offer “a virtual space where you could go to just for healing or just for … a sense of community.”

Chaney and Russell said their app also offers people a sense of anonymity when they’re seeking help, especially young people who may be struggling and might not want to openly discuss their problems.

The app developers believe its effectiveness will grow as its use increases.

“This app is facilitating a relationship between the community and a lot of grassroots organizations that are already doing this amazing work. And so until we get a lot of people downloading it and using it and beginning to connect, we really do feel that we’ll see results from that, and be able to build out these other features — more accessible therapy, more accessible support groups, and the chat feature, which we’re building out,” Russell said.

The app is currently available on the Apple App Store by searching “Healing Outlet.” The developers said it will soon be available on the Google Play Store.

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Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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