Mental health crisis is increasingly plaguing young adults all around the world. Timely support and encouragement can help such individuals regain their emotional equilibrium and avoid them from resorting to any self harm or drastic measures. Unfortunately, in our society, having a mental illness to a large degree is scorned upon. Thus young adults refrain from discussing their depressive feelings just to escape such social prejudices.
Nevertheless, the good news is that there is a mobile app called TalkLife available that aims at addressing this very serious issue. It is a forum where anyone who is going through mental health crisis, depression, self harming tendencies or any such problems can seek help and guidance without any judgments and bullying.
Meet the Geniuses Behind this Noble App!
TalkLife is the proud start-up of Jamie Druitt, Andrew Montesi and Jacob White. Together they bring various skill sets to the table to successfully run the app.
Jamie won the Best Social Change Entrepreneur Australia, at the StartUp Smart Awards 2014. Prior to working full time on TalkLife, Jamie worked as a real estate agent. He has always been a true philanthropist my heart and has previously helped in setting up non-profit organizations and building orphanages in Vietnam.
Andrew is a former television journalist, who now specializes in public relations and marketing while Jacob is an award winning digital designer who has worked with numerous major brands as a creative lead or brand manager.
Know More About TalkLife!
TalkLife is a mobile platform that aims to tackle the global youth mental health crisis. It is a social network where young people aged 16 to 24 can post anything about their lives, and receive encouragement and support from their peers. The app further ensures privacy and safeguards the interest of the users.
TalkLife is available both on iOS and Android and has gained quite a lot of popularity from the time of its launch. The app has organically grown into a community of 105,000 users in over 120 countries and is currently averaging up to 20,000 posts every day. It is also one of the highest ranking apps on Google Play and Apple’s App Store for the search terms ‘suicide’ and ‘self-harm’.
In the short time of its existence, this app has already beginning to gain a lot of attention from media and users alike. It was recently recommended by UK celebrity and mental health advocate, Stephen Fry who said “Young people need somewhere to talk about youth mental health. TalkLife is that place.”
The Inspiration Behind It All!
A few years ago, Jamie faced some personal struggles and was looking to connect with others who had faced similar problems. He was looking for people who understood and showed support. These were struggles that he felt he couldn’t openly talk about with friends on Facebook and Twitter.
Jamie wanted to talk to people at any time, even in the early hours when he couldn’t sleep because of the emotion and stress. When he looked for “that place” to connect, he couldn’t find it. So he started wire framing a prototype for a mentoring/support platform, and thus the TalkLife idea was born.
This app has been quickly adopted by young people who, like Jamie, were actively searching for a place to voice out their challenges of ‘real life’. Be it talking about mental health, body image, relationships or any other problem, TalkLife is your place of release and advice.
What Problem is TalkLife Solving?
Mental illness in young people is a growing and urgent problem globally. The World Health Organization estimates that 10 to 20 percent of young people experience a mental health disorder each year. Alarmingly, self harm has also risen by 68 percent in the last ten years, and depression and anxiety issues have risen by 70 percent in 25 years.
TalkLife was conceptualized to address this very issue as young adults hesitate in opening up about their problems to family and friends. This mobile app offers them a safe haven to connect and talk freely about various ‘taboo’ issues such as depression, self harm and suicidal tendencies.
The app acts as a “first response” for youth with serious emotional turmoil. For many users, TalkLife is one of the first places where young people are comfortable enough to open up about their challenges. This represents a key part of the theory of change; the start of the healing process that breaks down the stigma barriers that are currently preventing youth from accessing public and professional services.
“TalkLife gives young people a digital voice for their mental health, a tool to give and get support at anytime, and in doing so they provide us with invaluable data. Our recent collaboration with MIT, Microsoft Research and Harvard will help us to analyze and mine this data giving us real time information on the mental health landscape. We are currently working on models and algorithms that will use a mixture of machine learning and natural language processing to understand the triggers leading to a self harming event from the data in TalkLife. Further along we hope to identify high risk users where we could then embed specific interventions with mental health professionals. We hope to be able to predict high risk mental health episodes and prompt users to seek professional medical aid”, adds the team.
On Challenges and Competitors
In the initial stages, Jamie spent $100,000 of his own funds to build and maintain TalkLife. However, when his personal funds ran out, it was a challenge to pay the bills as TalkLife continued to grow and required more service and maintenance.
Nevertheless, the app overcame this hurdle by getting seed funding and a recent grant from Nesta in the UK. This has put the start-up in a stronger position to launch to a new level of growth.
In terms of direct competitors, TalkLife has none at the moment. However, apps such as Secrets, Whisper and Ask.Fm do have the potential to be competitors as young adults also use these apps to share difficult struggles anonymously.
One may argue that professional services and helplines will mostly be TalkLife’s biggest competitors. However, rather than competing with them, the team refers users who need professional or emergency assistance to these organizations. In the coming days, the team is also looking to create a more formalized alliance and process with such institutions.
On Targeted Audience, Expansion Plans and Monetizing
TalkLife, at the moment, is mainly geared towards youth aged between 16 to 24 years globally as it is widely adopted by them. However, the platform is open to anyone who wants to share their struggles.
Presently, 80% of users of the app are based out of the US. The team currently is focused on expanding TalkLife in the UK and soon also wants to venture into non-English speaking nations. They plan on becoming the go-to platform for youth mental health, worldwide.
“We currently have a popular in-app subscription service, advertising, partner relationships and other monetization plans under development,” adds the team in terms of monetizing the app.
So what are you waiting for? If you or anyone else you know is battling a serious mental illness, please do try TalkLife. Get sound advice and help without any risk of feeling vulnerable, exposed, bullied or judged.
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