2017 Stelios Award Winner and the Gift that keeps on giving!
In mid-December, I came into the office after a break of a couple of weeks. The previous month had been frantic, as I’ll explain. On my desk was a letter from the DWP. I’d been told there was post for me by email, but not to rush in, it was just an official letter. I was not in any way expecting what was inside.
It was in fact a personal letter, addressed to me, from Sarah Newton MP, the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work. It began with ‘Many congratulations’. I immediately took a photo of it and put it on social media. How exciting.
In November, we won the annual Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs, established by the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation and administered by Leonard Cheshire. And it is the gift that keeps on giving. Every time I think that one final thing has just happened that will be the last of the ripple effect, there is something else round the corner.
It was a brilliant way to end a year which began with our beta going live on the App Store. 2018 will begin with a launch of a full service to help people to actively manage their mental health using private video diaries. Mental health has never been bigger or higher profile in the public conversation than it was in 2017, and having worked in the field now for 20 years using my personal and professional experience of mental health, I think I can see that we are at a tipping point in the debate where there is at last a real potential for parity between physical and mental health.
Mental Snapp started with my personal experience of the therapeutic benefits of telling my mental health story on film, and how I worked as a film maker to help other people to tell their story, seeing the effect on their confidence which expressing a mental health story on film can create. The camera sees you and hears you, it is a powerful validator, and one that people who have often been confronted with fundamental questions about their concept of reality find an amazing therapeutic release. It is my belief that telling your story from your own point of view and finding the confidence to trust again in your own interpretation of events is fundamental to mental health recovery. It is often an ongoing journey, in which film can be a very positive intervention. Mental Snapp came about as a way to enable more people to have access to this experience of therapeutic film making. To do that in 2017, the obvious route was to develop an app.
Having got onto the App Store at the start of the 2017 with the help of a grant from UnLtd and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, secured investment in the spring from Bethnal Green Ventures and learnt valuable lessons from the users who were testing the app, so it came about that in November I was sitting in EasyGroup’s Chelsea headquarters across a table from Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, founder of EasyJet and the decision maker as to who of the shortlisted companies would scoop the overall winner prize. I can’t say it was an easy interview. I came away convinced I’d blown it. As he said to me at the podium when I was presented with the cheque, “You weren’t expecting an easy ride?” His business acumen is of course incredibly acute and I look forward to learning from him and his associates through the coming year.
So, a roller coaster ride, and no, I wasn’t expecting the moment when I was presented with a giant cheque. On top of that, I wasn’t anticipating the ripple effects - press coverage online and off, an interview on BBC News Channel, photo shoots, and now a letter from the Minister. The biggest and the best ripple effect is the opportunity to launch and really shout about the version of Mental Snapp that is coming out on 24th January. We have learnt so much this year, and we’ve bundled all that insight from our users, the behaviour change and empowerment that can lead to, and packed it into our handy little private video diary app called Mental Snapp. Download and try it for free.
The version that is coming out on 24th January, has enhanced features and learning from the behavioural insights that we have picked up this year. But the fundamental concept remains the same. You record your story, which taps into the therapeutic power of journaling on film. You then label your clip to make it useful. You do this by rating your mood and naming your feelings, both of which have also been shown to have therapeutic effect. The three stage process of Mental Snapp helps organise your thoughts and our users say they feel kinder to themselves as a result of regular recording. Have a go. The version may change, but the concept has not. We believe that our users already have the power to actively manage their mental health. What using Mental Snapp on a regular basis helps to do is to draw those skills out. Enjoy telling your story.
Click here to come to the Mental Snapp launch party on January 24th.