Updated: Sep 28, 2020
Superpow will connect users seeking mental health support with specialists of similar cultural backgrounds. The two co-founders of the app have both faced mental health challenges in the past. They want to destroy the stigma around the subject and offer a multicultural service.
Lifting up the barriers in Digital Mental Health
London, UK - September 2020 - Superpow!, a new platform that offers online therapy services via videoconferencing, today announced the upcoming launch of the app. The platform has a totally new approach in the Digital Mental Health field: TAKES DIVERSITY INTO ACCOUNT. When started working on their project, the two co-founders had one goal in mind: to get rid of as many of the factors that stop people accessing mental health support. This can be seen in every characteristic of Superpow!: design, logo, user interface, accessibility.
The Road to Superpow!
What determined the two co-founders of Superpow! to start the work on this project is their own experiences in overcoming mental health challenges. It all started back in 2014, when Andrei was living in Los Angeles and started developing symptoms of an eating disorder. “Looking back, I cannot believe that I went through that. I was simply scared not to gain weight and I was refusing to eat. It sounds unreal now, but my mind managed to convince me that is normal to live that kind of lifestyle.” - Andrei Stoica, co-founder. Andrei eventually started face-to-face therapy with a few specialists but it didn’t really help. It was the first time he was living abroad and working with international people, in an unfamiliar environment - the connection was not there. He only started to feel better and overcome these challenges when he returned back to Europe, and without professional support.
“We are lifting up the barriers we personally had to face in the past so others do not have to come across the same obstacles when seeking mental health support, no matter where they are from” - Andrei & Gabriel, co-founders of Superpow!
Later in 2018 and while living in London, after a few months of feeling deeply anxious in certain situations, Andrei decided to start face-to-face therapy via the NHS (National Health System) in the UK. “It was not comfortable at all to go to the hospital every week to get the support I needed, to wait in the waiting room among others, some with serious issues. I remember that I was constantly comparing myself with the others, scared not to develop more serious mental issues.”- Andrei Stoica, co-founder. Unfortunately this service did not help either. Andrei felt again that it was impossible for the professional to picture his childhood or to understand the issues Andrei might had faced at an earlier age. This determined Andrei in 2019 to try one of the online therapy providers available on the market. “I think I tried several apps and online platforms, and tried to match with a professional, but I was only able to find US based counsellors - it just didn’t feel right.” - Andrei, co-founder.
By this time Andrei was convinced that finding a specialist from his native country may be the solution. This is how he found a local platform with specialists based in Romania. Andrei has never had to change his therapist since. “It was finally so easy to open up to my therapist. I no longer had to give short cultural lessons about Romania or search for that world which bests describes my feeling. This experience was life changing for me.” - Andrei, co-founder. Later on in 2019, Andrei’s good friend, and now colleague, Gabriel, started to experience depression, anxiety and low self esteem and was recommended the same Romanian online platform. “To be honest, even before Andrei mentioned to me about this platform, I had thought about seeking professional support but I did not take action, I am still not sure why. Probably I was one of those who thinks that therapy is for people with severe conditions. But when Andrei suggested me this platform, it was easier for me to accept that I needed professional support. It was easy, I could do it from my room, without having to change 3 trains and take time off work to get to my therapist. It was easy for my therapist to see why I was experiencing that low self esteem or why I was limiting myself in terms of future expectations.” - Gabriel Birgaoanu, co-founder.
At the beginning of 2020 Gabriel, decided to move to Spain, leaving his job at the time and giving notice for the flat he used to live. Due to Covid-19 pandemic, Gabriel’s one-way flight got cancelled in March and during the lockdown he started thinking about what encouraged him to start online therapy the previous year. “In London everybody is from everywhere, so a multicultural app for online therapy would be just what it needs. It’s incredible to think that this type of service does not exist. We were lucky to find this small platform back home, but why does everybody have to go down this path, and what if there is no similar service in some countries where Mental Health is 100% a tabu subject? We are not saying that everyone needs mental health support from a specialist of the same cultural background. Some might feel the opposite. But at least we want to give people the chance to choose.” - Gabriel, co-founder.
Superpow! Name and Theme
The name and the theme of Superpow! came up based on Andrei and Gabriel’ approach since the beginning: "To make it as less clinical as possible." The reference to comic books is a reflection of the analogy between looking after your mental health and having a superpower. The name Superpow! relates to the statement that “We all have the superpower to overcome mental health challenges and we are all our own superheroes.” Why non-clinical approach? “It is true that we received some feedbacks such as: ‘Mental Health is such a serious matter, you can’t just play with it’. Our theme does not mean that we are not serious about the subject, or that our specialists will not be carefully selected. In an effort to reduce stigma, we did not want to use any medical related content, such as the usual brain icon, depressing images or SOS logo on our app.” - Gabriel, co-founder.
Superpow! is easy to use, especially the matching process. After responding to 5 multiple-choice questions, users will be able to see a list of therapists and their details. After selecting one of them, the first session can already be booked from that therapist’s calendar. Andrei and Gabriel said that this is exactly the process they needed in the past: not 20+ uncomfortable questions about your feelings, followed by a long waiting time to be matched with a professional and then another few days until you manage to book an appointment. “The waiting time before you are matched with a therapist is crucial. In 48 hours you can change your mind 10 times whether you need support or not.” - Andrei, co-founder.
Another key feature Superpow! will implement is flexibility. The app will not ask its users for a monthly, quarterly or yearly subscription. The payments will be made for each session, so users do not feel that they will need treatment for a certain period of time or a fixed number of sessions per week. “I cannot describe how frustrated I get when I see many apps out there, making people subscribe to their platforms for an entire year to get a lower price. Why do that when many might need one simple conversation with a specialist? If I knew from the beginning that it would take a year to overcome my own mental health challenges I am sure I would have given up.” - Gabriel, co-founder.
From friends to Co-Founders
Andrei and Gabriel know each other since 9 years ago. They became very good friends while studying at the same university. They constantly supported each other and sometimes were the only ones knowing about each other’s issues. They always knew that they would make a great team for a project, but never really had the chance to until the COVID-19 lockdown. Previous to Superpow! both co-founders worked for prestigious hospitality establishments in the UK but also around the world. While Andrei has a strong experience in Sales and Marketing, Gabriel specialised in Customer Service, Revenue and Business Development. “We strongly believe we make a great team. We know each other’s strengths better than anybody else and we know how to combine our skills.” Andrei & Gabriel.
Current Situation Around Mental Health
Research conducted by Mind Charity, “1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England” and that is even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. WHO approximates that around 450 million people around the world suffer of mental health conditions. Superpow! will tackle these numbers directly and the stigma that keeps these figures up. The app will be launched by the end of the year, on both Android and iOS. The platform will also work on deploying a strong B2B channel, working with companies and organisations that are happy to take a step further in helping their employees access mental health support, confidentially. Superpow! is currently seeking investment to finalise the app development and enter the market successfully. The two co-founders launched a crowdfunding campaign where anyone can invest from £11.
Press Contact: Name: Gabriel Birgaoanu Phone number: +44 (0) 75 3815 5092 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org