Inspired by Angela Lim - co-founder of Clearhead

This month, we sat down with Angela Lim, co-founder of Clearhead, to learn more about what her start-up is doing to help New Zealanders be well.

Angela Lim, pediatrician and founder of Clearhead.

Angela Lim, pediatrician and founder of Clearhead.

Angela Lim and the team behind New Zealand’s leading-edge mental health app, Clearhead

Angela Lim and the team behind New Zealand’s leading-edge mental health app, Clearhead

Chances are you know someone who has suffered from anxiety or depression. Maybe that someone is you. Despite the rise of yoga and #selflove posts, not to mention a wellbeing budget this year for New Zealand, one in five Kiwis are affected by mental illness every year; and 50-80% of us will experience mental distress or addiction challenges or both in our lifetime (source). 

Clearhead was born from a belief that technology has the ability to close that revolving door to illness. In fact, Clearhead empowers the individual to close the door themselves. The current health system does not provide individuals tools to stay well, or sometimes because of the expense, there is a limit on use. Not only is Clearhead is free to use, it is designed as a long-term solution.  

Something cool about Clearhead is that is has been co-designed with users and stakeholders (for a quick summary on what co-design is, in the context of wellbeing, check out this blog from Lifehack). During the co-design process, Clearhead learned that people are more open to disclosing their concerns, challenges and unhealthy behaviour if responding digitally rather than face-to-face with a GP or even to people close to them. In this way, Clearhead provides a judgement-free way for people to understand what’s going on for them. 

How Clearhead works 

It’s as simple as signing up on the website or on the app (the app will be out in August). You then land on the equivalent of Google - only it’s a more trustworthy online doctor than Dr. Google itself. The platform uses a chatbot to help guide the information you provide into an informal diagnosis of your symptoms (not to be replaced with GP advice). In the often murky waters of mental illness, the summary is a remarkable tool for gaining clarity. 

The platform’s other features include online resources, a national directory and booking system for therapy with mental health professionals, and a mood tracker. It really is a one stop shop for people feeling depressed, or perhaps when you are feeling low after a hard week. 

Help reaches hard-to-find places 

Clearhead launched in April. One week later, Clearhead received a message from someone who had been at a St John first aid course. Another participant, a manager in a construction firm, had told the group that he advises his workers to use it, after one of them had turned up to work drunk. For co-founder Angela, this is Clearhead’s vision in action: helping every New Zealander achieve wellbeing.  

How to help 

While mental health no longer hides under the stigma it once did, the culture of holding back still lingers. Angela suggests an open, gentle conversation is the way to go. “As a support person, you can reach out and say ‘I’m here for you. And while you might not be ready to talk to me, I know a free option that will help you understand what’s going on.’ Clearhead can give the clarity and anonymity you might not feel you could provide as a support person.” 

Next steps for Clearhead 

Angela revealed that Clearhead is creating a support person pathway, to help people figure out how to best support a friend going through mental health challenges. “We want to also help the support people feel they can manage their own mental wellbeing, with often neglected questions like how to manage my own burnout and what do I do if my friend is feeling depressed.” 

If you would like to learn more about Clearhead (we recommend you have a play on it for yourself as well as sharing with a friend who might be suffering the winter blues), visit the website, sign up for free, or scroll through their instagram.