Planting A Thought
How one young entrepreneur is supporting mental well-being and climate change in one simple app.
One million minds will grow one million trees is the unique challenge which one young Hertfordshire entrepreneur has set herself.
Elise Williams, aged 28 from Berkhamsted, has spent the last five years developing her mental resilience business and app, The Pocket Mentor, which has attracted 1500 customers in its first week of launch. And started building a forest too.
As she explains, ‘For every 10 days someone uses my App, we plant a tree so it’s a win win!’
The Pocket Mentor App tackles, in an inventive and creative way, the rising problem of mental health particularly in young people. After extensively researching what communication format is most effective, Elise uses whiteboard style animation, drawn by herself, in the 40 short videos as well as interactive, gaming devices.
So impressed were the bigwigs at Apple that they have now made it available through their App Store.
‘Never before has mental health been such an important topic with 90 percent of school leaders reporting an increase in pupils stress and anxiety and I was determined to do something about it,’ Elise says.
She also recognised the growing importance of nature to people’s overall well being and decided to incorporate this into her business model in a unique way by partnering with the Eden Project on her tree planting initiative.
This fact attracted one of the first members, Deepa, ‘I particularly love the unique idea of the trees being planted. So there is a dual benefit, not only are we gaining a boost of well-being every day, so is the world!’
Elise first came up with the idea after graduating from university and, despite securing a full-time job, felt unprepared for the world of work. She knew she wanted to help others suffering similar anxiety and approached the Princes Trust for support.
Their Enterprise Course helped her on the practical side of starting a business whilst she concentrated on the actual content.
‘I spent time building my understanding of mental resilience and realising that people wanted accessible support at the exact moment they needed it rather than having to book an appointment or attend a workshop,’ she said.
Overnight she gave up her job to concentrate full time on developing the Pocket Mentor toolkit which provides breathing exercises, focusing tools, the daily 5 To Thrive mental wellbeing workout and Mindset Boost library; real time solutions to real life challenges – all in a fun-to-use app.
For example, as Elise explains, ‘Perhaps you’re feeling worried about a mistake you’ve made; The Pocket Mentor helps put a pause on the emotional reactive part of our brain and helps us objectively reframe the mistake into a stepping stone, creating actions for improvement and the next step. Or you have an important piece of work to do but are slumped on the sofa and keep pressing the ‘next episode’ button; The Pocket Mentor helps break down roadblocks towards the task and build motivation to get up and do it.’
As one user Graham commented, ‘As someone that has struggled with his mental health at times, for me these Mindset Boost videos impacted me immediately, I felt instantly refreshed, more focused, calmer.’
The average usage is just 10-15 minutes per day. As another young user, Holly said, ‘I especially like the Affirmations part as just by taking a few minutes to say how you feel etc out loud really helps you believe in what you are saying so you feel a lot happier and determined. I think without the Pocket Mentor app I would struggle more when I am anxious.’
In its first week of launch, Elise has not only been surprised by the volume of uptake but also the membership profile, ‘The initial idea was to create a tool for young people to fill this gap in the curriculum, however, just as many, grown-ups are becoming members and finding it valuable too, which goes to show that mental wellbeing and resilience applies to us all no matter our age.’
Find out more about The Pocket Mentor at www.pocketmentorapp.com.