A well-established online counselling service aims to put a therapist in everyone’s pocket, meaning advice and counsel can be sought at any time or place via video, voice and instant messaging.
Launched by Nathaniel Smithies in order to break down the barriers that stop people getting the counselling help they need, PlusGuidance is an online counselling service that gives users immediate access to counsellors and therapists.
Having already helped 100s of people get the help they need, they are now raising money in order to build a secure app that will allow people to access the services from their mobile, not just their desktop. With this app everyone will have access to a therapist in their pocket – day and night, whenever and wherever they need one.
Users can choose from a global pool of professionals - meaning that you can find a therapist to suit you. So if you can't attend sessions during work hours, or you need to talk to someone at 2am, you can find a therapist overseas, perhaps in the US or Australia.
Smithies, founder of PlusGuidance, explains why unrestricted access to counselling and advice is so important:
“The prevalence of mental health issues in startup founders and entrepreneurs is staggeringly high. 49% of entrepreneurs are reported to have a mental health condition (mostly depression, ADHD and anxiety), which is a lot higher than the overall 7% prevalence of depression in the US population. Suicides are also relatively common among business owners.”
How can we tackle this?
Smithies continues, “Well, if entrepreneurs and employees could easily and discretely access support, they might reach out in time to get help. I know this personally as I was struggling with panic attacks early on in my career. I was too embarrassed to admit I needed help and couldn’t face the thought of sitting in a waiting room at the local health centre and be recognised by mates asking me why I’m there. I could only face easy solutions, so I didn’t face myself at all until I was actively encouraged to go for it. That’s why I created PlusGuidance in the first place - to make it easy to ask for and get help without all the fuss, embarrassment and barriers.
There’s a lot of stigma attached to mental illness, and this stigma makes it harder to act on your own self-doubts. We know from interviews especially from young men in the start-up world that there’s a lot of pride in playing the strong alpha male, who’s invincible or the perfect business man. There’s also a lot of fear of being ‘found out’ by your boss or employers if it happens they are struggling with stress or other problems. You don’t want to be seen as a failure or someone who can’t lead their own business. That’s why I’m trying to make it easy to get anonymous and barrier-free help, through my platform.”