Over the past 15 years, I have battled a variety of mental health demons, like depression and chronic anxiety. I can say from first hand experience that trying to find adequate treatment can be a nightmare. Whether it’s trying to find the right medication, the right treatment or just trying to get an appointment with an overbooked doctor, it is always an uphill battle.
Startup Joyable, which just raised $8 million in Series A funding, is trying to make the mental health world a little easier to navigate; they have created an online program specifically geared toward helping people overcome social anxiety. In just twelve weeks. For only $99 a month.
According the Social Anxiety Institute:
Social anxiety is the fear of interaction with other people that brings on self-consciousness, feelings of being negatively judged and evaluated, and, as a result, leads to avoidance. Social anxiety is the fear of being judged and evaluated negatively by other people, leading to feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, embarrassment, humiliation, and depression.
Joyable has created an online Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) program which leads users through a series of exercises designed to help them understand their social anxiety, learn the key skills required to overcoming it, and then the steps and support needed to put those skills to work and ultimately conquer their fears.
A typical Joyable exercise only takes about ten minutes and tries to use as much practical application as possible.
The solution is not just impersonal technology; Joyable users are also paired up with a coach – starting with a 30 minute kick-off call – who will give them support and motivation as they make their way through the exercises on their way to recovery.
…research conducted over the past half-decade shows that CBT delivered via a website can be just as effective as CBT delivered through an in-person therapist.
I do find it odd, however, that none of the coaches employed by Joyable are certified therapists. They are employed solely to provide support and motivation for those in the program. Given that Joyable is marketing itself as a mental health solution and costs a non-trivial amount of money, it seems somewhat disingenuous to use coaches who have no certifications.
Then again, given the exploding “coach” market (life coach, dating coach, fitness coach, etc.), this shouldn’t be that surprising. If results are all that matter, then Joyable seems to be doing just fine; they have glowing client testimonials.
As Joyable looks to the future, they hope to treat more than social anxiety. CEO Peter Shalek said in an interview:
“We say that we want to cure the world of anxiety and depression. There are a lot of reasons why social anxiety is a good place to start, but we imagine going into generalized anxiety, OCD, PTSD, a whole range of conditions.”
If their Series A is put to good use and the results keep coming, this startup could be right next to their users in line for a pretty bright future.
Stephen Altrogge is a freelance writer based in Tallahassee, Florida. He writes about tech, marketing, faith, and lots of other things. He’s married to Jen and has three young girls. Every day he consumes more coffee than the entire population of Colombia. He knows more about Star Wars than any respectable man should, and he runs more than any sane man would. He once attempted to eat a 2 pound hamburger in under an hour. He failed.
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