The conversation on mental health and its care has picked up strongly over the past few years, but there is still much improvement to be seen to if you ask Joan Low.
As a mental healthcare giver herself for over 20 years, she has experienced first-hand the many challenges one has to go through to seek help, assuming that they even pluck enough courage to look past the stigma of seeking therapy.
Understanding those pain points, the banker-turned-entrepreneur founded ThoughtFull, a digital end-to-end mental health support company that empowers users to proactively learn about and engage with their mental wellness with certified mental health professionals for resilience on the go.
“Our reason for being here is to make access to mental healthcare more seamless and affordable. The crux of what we do is called digital mental healthcare so we take a digital first approach,” the founder shares.
Through bite-sized coaching available anytime, anywhere, as well as a slew of other features users can engage with on the ThoughtFullChat app, Joan and her team hope to bring quality mental healthcare into the palms of users.
Currently, 1 in 3 Malaysians go through some form of mental health challenge compared to 1 in 7 Singaporeans. The ratio of mental health professionals available to care to population size is 1 to 100,000, ten times the recommended number by the World Health Organisation (WHO) of 1 to 10,000.
ThoughtFull aims to make mental healthcare engagement as commonplace as going for a yoga class or walking into a store to buy a pair of workout tights. It does so by making coaching more easily integratable into our lives for as little friction as possible.
Here’s how it works to bring quality mental healthcare to all through an app.
Engage with a rich content for self-awareness
Sign up and engage with rich content from self-care lesson packs to self-assessment tests designed by ThoughtFullChat’s in-house clinical team to find out where your current state of mental health stands if you’re not ready to speak to a professional.
“We have assessments that help people understand where their current states of stress, anxiety and depression are – these are all clinical assessments that are also used in the medical setting. Some people don’t anything else but the assessment just to see their scores,” Joan shares.
Even if you do not need therapy, ThoughtFullChat has lighter ways of engagement to stay on top of your mental health for preventive care. This includes tips on journaling, meditating, and the overall practice of being aware of your emotions and psychological state.
“In ThoughtFullChat, we have guided journals designed by our own clinical in-house team that help people with prompts and questions to get that conversation with yourself started,” Joan adds. “Journaling is a very good way of introspection and reflection. It’s different when we are able to put our emotions down in words. For some people, this is very foreign, they don’t even know where to start.”
Your personal mental health coach
If you are ready to speak to someone, certified mental health professionals are ready to help you get out of any mental health challenges including stress, anxiety or depression with one-on-one bite-sized coaching.
“We have certified mental health professionals across 12 different locations representing up to 9 local languages,” Joan shares. “They can text or send an audio message, anytime, anywhere, and there are professionals who will check in asynchronously, within 24 hours.”
In more serious cases, therapy is also offered on the app, with the option to do it virtually or in-person, in which case ThoughtFullChat’s therapists will also see you through your entire journey.
“We do the full one hour to 90 minutes therapy,” Joan tells. “That’s something that’s important because where the disjoint comes in is when people don’t know where to go. They go to therapy on one end and then after they don’t know where to get something else. If they want to try something else, it’s a different person. With us, we want to make sure that it is seamless – you can work with the same professional for your video or offline therapy.”
This extends to after the therapy sessions and applies to progress-tracking. “You can work with the same person for your bite-sized coaching as well so you’re talking to the same person for your coaching. You’re building that relationship. In terms of the content, you can also discuss it with that professional because they know all the content and you. It’s all very seamless, in line with our vision to make mental healthcare seamless and affordable,” Joan shares.
ThoughtFullChat Pro for practitioners
On top of users, ThoughtFullChat also caters to the providers of mental healthcare with ThoughtFullChat Pro, a one-stop platform for certified mental health professionals to digitise their practice and increase their reach.
“Not only are we helping the entire industry to digitize their practice, we’re also helping them to scale, to access segments that they normally would not be able to reach. Most importantly, it’s to drive towards universally high quality mental healthcare delivery,” Joan says. “It’s all very seamless, in line with our vision to make mental healthcare seamless and affordable.”
Mental health is wealth
Joan has been an active participant in the mental health conversation for over two decades and wants more people to be part of it. She invites all to join in because it’s an investment in oneself when you engage in your mental health.
“Sometimes it’s very awkward – if you have someone mirroring and reflecting things back at you so that you can see it from an arm’s length perspective, that’s when you start judging it the way you might judge something else and you might not like the outcome you’re looking at,” she reasons. “But it’s worthwhile doing so because no knowledge Is bad knowledge, especially when it’s knowledge about ourselves.”
“How deeply are you willing and able to go into yourself and spend time working on your issues?”