Mental illness among young people is increasing. Sven Bremberg, pediatrician and adolescent doctor and associate professor of social medicine at Karolinska Institutet and Ing-Marie Wieselgren, psychiatrist and national coordinator for psychiatric issues in Sweden's municipalities and regions talked in a recent pod about how valuable it is for young people to talk about their personal challenges with non-professionals. The Angelchat app offers just that.
Stockholm, Sweden, February 25, 2022 -- According to research, the impact of talking and sorting things out with a listening person is similar to that achieved through professional treatments by trained therapists in healthcare. The effect of talking to someone who listens is striking and can be perceived as remarkable, says Sven Bremberg, who also believes that it is important not to burden healthcare with emotional challenges that should not be considered diseases but that young people should to a large extent be able to talk to non -trained staff about things they experience as emotionally difficult.
Even before the pandemic, loneliness was considered the greatest threat to mental health globally, and post-covid studies show that among young people aged 18-24, who are the group most affected by the restrictions, 63% suffer from significant anxiety and depression symptoms. Almost one in four reported that they had increased their drug and alcohol abuse to manage their emotions. This data quantifies an alarming trend that researchers have anticipated, that the pandemic will have a long-term impact on young people's mental health.
To help people find people they can relate to, Johan Bergenudd and Karolina Öman started the app Angelchat. Since its inception, it has been downloaded by 100,000 people and on a typical day, hundreds of users are inside the app to seek or offer support as angels.
"Johan had over fifteen years of experience in mentorship that had had a great impact on him and others and I had had the opportunity to experience a lot in the care of mental illness before I most surprisingly received an ADHD diagnosis in adulthood." says Karolina.
“We saw that there was a lack of a channel where people can both offer and seek support for personal challenges. Given that there is always someone who has already gone through the same thing that you are currently suffering from, it is almost rude to keep that knowledge hidden from you. ” she continues.
“Something that is fascinating is that those who provide support get an opportunity to turn their most difficult experiences into their strongest assets by helping others. This means that the app is equally important for both parties and that you can stay and offer support to someone else when you feel better. ” Johan interjects.
Focus on matching
Angelchat's core is the app's matching algorithm that combines a large number of data points based on the user's profile, demographics and activity to match people who are most likely to be able to relate to each other. The algorithm is continuously optimized and takes into account parameters such as frequency, time in the app, response time and volume.
“Ask yourself who you would most like to be entrusted with if you were bullied, felt lonely or had deep anxiety? A positive family member, a twenty-year-old psychologist or a slightly older "anonymous chat buddy" who had experienced the same thing? ", Johan asks rhetorically.
“It's really inspiring. We have received thousands of personal stories from users, many describe that they did not find help anywhere before they came to Angelchat and that the angel they chat with meant everything to them, even saved lives… although we are very careful to point out that the app is only for emotional support and should not be used in crisis situations, ”says Karolina.
Unlike primary care, those who seek support get started in a few minutes by creating a profile and choosing one of the angels who are presented. As an angel, you create a profile in the same way, get to know how to best provide support based on your own experiences and wait for someone to choose one. Users are only paired in pairs (ie no group discussions), with members of the same sex and the angel is always older than the applicant.
You may not think about it, but what the care offers is often limited to time-limited meetings on a few occasions per month. In between, there is all the time in the world to feel lonely and uncomfortable. In Angelchat, communication is asynchronous and constantly running. This means that the person seeking support does not have to feel alone and can be in contact with their anonymous chat friend when the anxiety is at its worst. ” says Johan.
To ensure a safe environment, all users are encouraged to maintain their anonymity. All profiles are authenticated. Angels are asked to verify gender and age and thus get a security symbol in the profile. Inappropriate behavior can be easily reported and means that the person's account is blocked. Should hatred or harassment be discovered, it is prosecuted through a police report.
Social media and loneliness are threats to mental health. Angelchat empowers people by allowing them to connect with those they share unique experiences with. The app’s founders possess over 15 years of experience from P2P mentoring and have previously successfully scaled up tech businesses worldwide. To date, Angelchat has raised over $700,000 from renowned investors and currently helps thousands of users regain their confidence and self-worth. For more information visit https://en.angelchat.io/