Tellmi: Better Mental Health - Interview with the developer of a fantastic app

Did you have any prior development or coding experience?

My training as a mechanical engineer gave me a rudimentary understanding of coding. This was sufficient to enable me to build our first MVP for Tellmi which was piloted in three secondary schools.

What was the most challenging aspect of developing mobile app?

Tellmi is a social enterprise, we put impact first. Even though social enterprise startups can be as successful as their for-profit counterparts, the investment space for social enterprise is still emerging. Fundraising is tough but we are incredibly fortunate to be supported by investors who believe in our mission.

Tellmi is a social enterprise which was launched in 2017 by psychologist Suzi Godson PhD and engineer Kerstyn Comley PhD. Tellmi’s pioneering work in the digital peer support space has now safely supported more than 70,000 young people. The interview questions were answered by engineer Kerstyn Comley PhD, who is the Co-Founder and co-CEO of Tellmi.

Name a few of your favorite apps and reason you love them.

Audible: I can now read and walk without bumping into things
Polytopia: Fun little strategy game
Tellmi: Obviously, couldn't be more proud of what we have created.

How long have you been working on this app?

Suzi Godson first shared her idea for Tellmi with me back in 2014. We had only just met. We spent the next few years researching the idea and searching for the right software developer. In 2016 we were introduced to Coral Solutions in Lithuania. In 2016 Lithuania had the highest rate of suicide in Europe and Coral really believed in our mission to provide early support for young people. They offered to help us as one of their CSR projects and Tellmi was launched in 2017. Without Coral's support, we could never have dreamed of creating such a polished app.

What need of the user did you have in mind when developing this app?

In the UK one in six children aged 5-16 has a diagnosable mental health issue (NHS Digital 2020), but 75% of them will never get any support (DOH, 2013). As a result, suicide is now the leading cause of death for young people (RCPCH, 2021). We believe that we will never solve the mental health crisis if we persist in treating young people one at a time. Young people need tools that enable them to help themselves, and each other, Tellmi does just that.

In what way do you think your app is better than similar apps on the market? Please describe in detail what innovation you think you bring and what you are proud of in your app.

Tellmi has been designed in collaboration with over 2,000 young people. We deliberately set out to create a mental health service that didn't feel like a mental health service. We wanted it to be inclusive, engaging and somewhere that young people felt confident to open up about whatever was worrying them.

Over 5,000 young people use Tellmi for support every month and in 2021 University College London (UCL) completed an independent evaluation of Tellmi that found statistically significant evidence that Tellmi improves mental health. Last year we supported 972 young people who were at risk of suicide. Whenever things get tough at work I go into the app and filter by the Gratitude tag and read posts by our users thanking each other for the support that they provide.

It makes me feel incredibly proud that every day we are helping young people to live happier and healthier lives.

What are your future plans and expected features of the coming new versions of this app?

We have big plans to improve accessibility to the highest standard (AAA) and create new specialist modules for diabetic young people and young people with autism. Young people with either of these conditions are significantly more likely to experience poor mental health compared to their peers. To build these new modules we have started a new fundraising round and are looking for that next round of impact investors to join our mission and change the face of mental health support in the UK.

Assuming new users of your app are reading this page. What do you want to ask them to do (contact you about X, Share the app, etc.)?

Spread the word. Let your children's secondary schools know about Tellmi. If you are interested in impact investing, get in touch.

Tellmi: Better Mental Health

About App:

When you can’t tell anyone else. Tellmi.

Are you feeling isolated? Do you worry about your mental wellbeing? You’re not by yourself. Life can be difficult, but Tellmi makes it simple to express whatever is on your mind. Write your issues anonymously, and receive the help and advice you need from our extremely supportive community. Whether you are coping with stress, anxiety or depression, having difficulties with friends, or healing from a bad break-up, the Tellmi community is here for you.

Tellmi is totally safe because every single post and reply is checked by a human before it is published, and we have in-house counsellors if you need extra support. There’s no bots. Just real people who really care about you. Tellmi is available 365 days a year and we will never let you down.

Tellmi is age banded, so you are always talking to people your age. Filtering the feed lets you connect to people who have had the same experiences as you, so they empathize with what you are going through. From self-harm to eating disorders, insomnia to autism, the Tellmi community can help you to deal, accept and address the things that are bothering you.

Developed by experts, Tellmi is the only peer support app that the NHS in the UK considers safe for children as young as 11. In 2021 an independent study by University College London found statistically significant evidence that using Tellmi helps young people to feel better and less lonely. The app enhances confidence, connectedness and helps you to manage your mental better.

With Tellmi you can:
• Write anonymous questions, vent about your day, and talk through any struggles.
• Manage your anxieties and build confidence.
• Get support from other people of a similar age. You’ll soon find out that you are not the only one facing a particular issue.
• Help others. Share your experience and help others who are in the same situation.
• It’s completely free…with no annoying add-ons.
• Stay safe. Every post and reply is checked by our moderators before they go live, so there is no bullying, grooming or harassment. We make sure that everyone gets the loving support they need.
• Learn about wellbeing, mental health, sexual health, relationships, friendships and a whole lot more.
• Get published on an award-winning app. Send us your artwork, personal stories and poetry.

Please remember that Tellmi cannot provide medical or crisis support. Feel free to reach out to us directly if you have any questions. [email protected]

Categories: Education

Date: September 10, 2023

About developer: Tellmi is a social enterprise which was launched in 2017 by psychologist Suz ... Read more



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