A new social media platform
When it comes to mental health, social media apps aren't always considered helpful.
Some studies have linked the use of social platforms to depression, anxiety, poor sleep quality and low self-esteem. In fact, a recent UK parliamentary report (#NewFilters) found that young people who are heavy users of social media have worse mental health than lighter users of the same age.
But a new platform is hoping to counter that, by building a caring online community where users can help each other to overcome issues like PTSD, depression and anxiety.
Called Kinde, it's basically a social feed where users can post about their feelings and others can respond with advice and support.
The app, which is currently available on iPhone, was founded by 29-year-old entrepreneur Nadia James - who has suffered with depression. She developed the idea after finding recovery through the kindness of strangers at a wellbeing retreat. She believes sharing your problems with people who have had similar experiences, whether online or IRL, can make all the difference.
How does it work?
The sign up process is really quick and easy to navigate. After downloading the app, you start by letting it know what issues you're struggling with - whether it's anxiety, depression, PTSD or something entirely different. Next, you plug in your gender preference, age and
you can upload a photo too.
I'm taken to a simple home screen which displays a feed of posts from other users in the community with similar mental health issues - it's sort of like Twitter, but with an overwhelming sense of compassion.
Unlike the trolling that can happen on bigger social media platforms, the community encourages users to practice kindness and be supportive of others.
I spot one post from a user who is celebrating it being the first day in three weeks that they haven't cried. I can choose to 'send kindness' by liking their post and adding an encouraging comment to cheer them on.
I can also post my own status, plus a 'mood' to describe my current state of mind - whether that's 'accepting', 'venting', 'learning' or 'celebrating'. I vent about my bad night's sleep and get a like from another user - it feels like an encouraging pat on the back.
I can see Kinde being really helpful for people who suffer from social anxiety, or for those who don't have a network of people around them who can fully understand the debilitating nature of mental health issues. Being able to find your tribe is the app's USP, but there are also other handy features too - like a health tracker, where you can plug in your sleep, diet, exercise and overall mood, so you can track your progress over the weeks.
The app also sets challenges that encourage good habits by awarding you points, which can keep you motivated and earn you prizes. These range from making your sleep a no phone zone to 'checking in with your gratitude'.
Currently, the app has garnered more than 600 users in the UK and US. A future feature will point UK users who are displaying severe symptoms towards a directory of local therapy and counselling services. James is also planning to roll-out the app on Android.
In a world of online bullying, Kinde feels like a breath of fresh air.
"So often when we're going through mental health lows, like depression, we close ourselves off," says James.
"I was isolating myself and having emotional outbursts before I found a community where I could talk about what I was going through."
She adds: "If it weren't for that experience, I don't know that I would've had the courage and self confidence to focus on my recovery."
Visit wearekinde.com for more information.