'Unsafe in my own mind': Edmonton app offers outlet for people seeking mental health support
For people who are struggling with their mental health, especially during the pandemic, it's important to recognize you’re not alone.
And a made-in-Edmonton app has a mission to increase accessibility to helpful tools and resources for those who need it.
In her early 20s, Sophie Gray, the founder of DiveThru, was a successful social media entrepreneur. She amassed more than 500,000 followers selling healthy living programs online.
But, overtime her own mental illness manifested into an eating disorder, self harm and an attempted suicide.
“I kind of swept my mental health problems under the rug,” she explained. “I was fine. Everything was fine.”
However, after a series of panic attacks derailed a routine trip back to Edmonton from New York, she realized it was time to take a step back.
“I could no longer pretend I was fine when I wasn’t,” she said. "I needed to start taking care of my mental health.”
“I felt like someone could place their hand on my head and I would have crumbled. I just felt so mentally vulnerable and so unsafe in my own mind.”
When Gray went searching for help, she told CTV News Edmonton, she felt “frustrated” with the lack of tools available. She wanted a resource that spoke the way she did, in a “blunt” manner and that’s how DiveThru came to be.
“We don’t want to make fun of mental health, but we do want to take it seriously while also just recognizing this is something we’re all going through,” she said.
“It’s difficult, let’s not pretend, let’s not sprinkle in toxic positivity and let’s get really real with it in a way that’s easily understood and not gate kept by really sophisticated academic language.”
'ONGOING COMMITMENT TO YOURSELF'
The app is run by a team of therapists and health professionals offering interactive tools and courses to help users manage their mental health.
Gray said it’s not meant to replace therapy but acknowledges that access, time and cost can be an issue for people seeking help.
“Managing your mental health isn’t something you do in a period of your life, it's an ongoing commitment to yourself,” she said.
“We really have to give each other grace in our experiences because everybody is going to process things differently.”
Since launching the app Gray said they’ve grown 10 fold in the last year and currently have 2.6 million young people ranging in age from 18 to 35 using their platforms per month.
Gray said having access to support is a “right not a luxury,” and that’s why 90 per cent of the resources and courses offered are free.
“Whatever you’re going through is valid,” she said. “Getting support for your mental health is actually a really strong thing to do and it’s not a sign of weakness.”
'FEAR WILL DISSIPATE'
Simone Saunders is one of DiveThru’s therapists and her Calgary-based practice focuses on racial and trauma-informed support.
“It can be really difficult for racialized individuals to speak about their mental health because there’s already stereotypes in place and mental health is already stigmatized in a lot of communities,” Saunders said, adding that breaking stigma is a big part of what the team focuses on.
“The pandemic has helped with understanding mental health issues and really bringing awareness to the fact that everybody struggles with mental health in some capacity.”
Saunders said the younger generation tends to me more open to therapy and in turn more aware.
“That lends to being able to spread that information to their family and the older generations,” she added.
For anyone seeking support, Saunders recommends taking advantage of consultations when speaking with healthcare professionals.
“You don’t have to pick the first therapist,” she explained.
“Build a relationship with a therapist that you feel like is a good fit and some of that fear will dissipate as you allow that process to happen.”
For more information on DiveThru, click here.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Carlyle Fiset
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