Having bipolar inspired filmmaker Hannah Chamberlain to start a groundbreaking video diary app.
Do you keep a diary?
Journaling has long been shown to have a positive impact on mental health.
There’s something cathartic about confronting your feelings, penning them down, and closing the book. It puts you in control of the day’s events and your emotions.
Other services like therapy might seem to offer a long-term solution but can actually encourage you to rely on other people, says filmmaker and entrepreneur Hannah Chamberlain.
This is why she’s bringing journaling into the digital age, with her video diary app Mental Snapp.
“In the long term you need to be there for yourself,” Chamberlain tells The Memo.
“Mentals Snapp does that by drawing out skills people might not even realise they have through the power self-reflection and video journaling.”
Chamberlain founded MentalSnapp in 2015, after her own “rollercoaster” experiences with bipolar disorder, she told The Memo when we met her ahead of the AXA Women Entrepreneurs in Health Tech Awards.
“I’ve experienced being written down in doctors offices, having my story effectively taken from me in medical notes – that’s very disempowering,” she explains.
“When I started telling my own story in film I realised how empowering and therapeutic it was, and that I could help others do the same.”
With the help of a dedicated team, she developed a beta version of Mental Snapp using funding from the likes of UnLtd, The Paul Hamlyn Foundation, and Bethnal Green Ventures. And a study of users with the London South Bank University already suggests that using it over two weeks can increase self-compassion and confidence.
Just recently, Chamberlain took home the 2017 Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs – complete with £30,000 from EasyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou.
And now, Mental Snapp is about to launch for everyone on a freemium model – you don’t have to have a formal mental health diagnosis to benefit, and can use Mental Snapp for free, or pay for additional content.
If you feel like giving video journaling a go, the idea is simple: you open the app and record your feelings on your smartphone.
You don’t need to worry about what you’re going to say, as the app offers handy prompts, which come in three styles.
These are either playful (based in the present moment), reflective (which encourage you to watch previous recordings to learn insights), or goal-orientated (to help your address challenges you’ve set yourself).
After you’ve made your recording, you rate your mood, name your feelings and the subject your recording is on.
“You categorise your emotions and the subject matter of your life in a way means that you’re not absorbed by it,” Chamberlain explains.
And because each video is tagged (perhaps pinpointing that yesterday you were feeling ‘anxious’ about ‘work’, for example) your prompts can start to refer to videos you’ve recorded previously.
“We really want to make the user journey something where people pick up amazing life skills,” says Chamberlain.
Gaining peoples’ trust will be one of the biggest hurdles ahead, says Chamberlain.
However, she assures that MentalSnapp is compliant with NHS security standards – and that it’s been independently approved by digital health watchdog OurMobileHealth.
In a year’s time, Chamberlain hopes to bring in new, improved features, and eventually MentalSnapp could even be recommended by the NHS, she adds.
“Often in mental health, people don’t feel able to trust themselves to be their own best friend – something a lot of people take for granted.”
“When you know you can back yourself, when you accept yourself for who you are – that’s when life really starts to open up.”