MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — A Myrtle Beach man is making a difference in people’s lives with a new mental health app that helps provide people with a support network.

Jonny McCoy graduated from 2001 Myrtle Beach High School graduate and went on to become the first person in his family to become a lawyer. However, after graduating from law school, he was falsely arrested in Columbia and held in jail for 72 hours.

That experience changed his life.

“During that elongated stay, I witnessed somebody commit suicide,” McCoy said. “They took their life in front of me, and so I was devastated. My mental health plummeted. I quit my job. I moved home to Myrtle Beach.”

After that, McCoy said he wasn’t getting the help he needed as he continued to work as an attorney. It wasn’t until he met other people in his position that things changed.

“It was the first time that I actually started feeling like there were other people out there that understood what I was dealing with and that there was actually hope that I could make it through,” McCoy said.

McCoy said he started Myrtle Beach’s first support group with people with PTSD, depression and anxiety. They were a group of more than 60 people that met in person. However, when COVID hit, that changed and inspired the White Flag app — a mental health app that employs zero therapists.  

“You get on White Flag and you can instantly and anonymously be connected with somebody else who’s going through the same mental health issues, struggles and challenges as you are, or maybe they were there before,” said McCoy, the app’s CEO and co-founder. “And now they’ve got some advice for you. And you can also offer support to people who are struggling on White Flag as well.” 

Since White Flag was launched in 2021, it has had more than 105,000 downloads, and more than a million messages of support have been exchanged. 

“The app is everything that you could imagine that it feels like to bring people relief and hope in the middle of the night or early in the morning, or when they’re struggling at work during the day,” McCoy said. “They just need a moment to remember that they’re human.”

McCoy said he has a favorite review of the app submitted by a subscriber.

“I read it all the time when I’m getting discouraged,” he said. “And it says, ‘You have no idea what this app has done For me. It’s the reason I’m still here.’”

McCoy said White Flag is in the midst of opening an office and headquarters in the Aspire Hub in Myrtle Beach. It’s expected to be open by the end of October.

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Taylor Maresca is the weekend morning anchor and morning reporter at News13. She joined the team in June 2022 after graduating from the University of Arizona. Taylor is from Houston. Follow Taylor on X, formerly Twitter, and read more of her work here.