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    Date submitted
  • 10-Jul-2018

GenU

Abstract

Teens and young adults feel enough pressure as it is. And even though there are many young people suffering with mental health challenges and many who have worked through or learned to manage their struggles, neither recognizes or feels comfortable approaching the other. So, one has compassion and support to offer, with no one to provide it to and the other feels alone and isolated wishing someone understood them.

GenU aims to remove the barriers and provides a safe platform to connect these two groups. The latter group can share their stories and provide support, guidance, and encouragement through first-person video messages easily accessed by the first group when they feel isolated and alone. GenU provides anonymity for people uncomfortable sharing their struggles, but in need of validation and empathy. GenU simultaneously provides gratification for those who pay-it-forward and contribute to the removal of mental health stigma.

Eventually, I’d like to widen the platform to all age groups.

Video

Additional Questions

Who is your customer?

Young adults who have in the past or are currently experiencing mental health challenges and those who have overcome their struggles or effectively manage them will constitute the primary users. Those currently experiencing difficulties will find a site they can access anonymously to gain a sense of compassion, encouragement, and guidance from peers with similar lived experience. Those who have worked through or manage their mental health challenges will find a platform to share their compassion and drive to reduce stigma surrounding mental health issues.

What problem does this idea/product solve or what market need does it serve?

GenU provides a platform for individuals who have overcome or who successfully manage mental health challenges to provide no-risk support, guidance, and encouragement to those feeling isolated, alone, and stigmatized in their suffering. Helping to create a societal shift in acceptance of mental health challenges. I am starting small with college-age individuals and would like to eventually expand to all age groups. Currently, there are few means of supporting individuals experiencing mental health challenges, until they self-identify, which many are uncomfortable doing. GenU provides a touch-point for mental health care and does so in a way that facilitates the often preferential cohort-level support rather than client-professional support. There is no interaction and no commitment. Individuals wishing to remove social stigma also have few outlets to do so and even fewer to provide compassion to those in need without commitment and fear of negative comments.

What attributes will make this idea/product successful? Why do you believe that those features will create success?

"Helpers" will be able to create profiles with as much or as little detail about themselves as they'd like. They will be able to embed videos they create along with those they find meaningfully address the challenges they've faced. "Seekers" will be able to register on the site and create boards similar to Pinterest where they can follow Helpers and keep up with their profiles as well as pin assorted videos to their own boards. They can "favorite" videos in a show of support and appreciation to the Helper and the Helper will receive a notification when a Seeker follows their profile (albeit without any identification). There will be no options for comments or feedback to eliminate spam, bots, and negative comments and infuse trust and openness into the site. By starting small with the teen and young adult market, GenU enters with the ability to connect with a well-organized population already divided into easily accessible groups, often with readily identifiable national or college-level points of contact.

Explain how you (your team) will execute to make this idea/product successful? What gives you (your team) an advantage over others already in the market or new to this market?

My first strategic alliance will be with the Active Minds organization. Then, I will seek to partner with other college service organizations and fraternities/sororities. I will also look to professional mental health organizations. Then I will seek partners in foundations and other non-profit entities including the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. I am perfectly poised as faculty advisor to the national Active Minds Chapter of the Year, a clinical child health psychologist, design thinking expert, (soon to be) credentialed MA in organizational leadership, mother and wife to individuals who successfully cope with mental health challenges, and Professor of Psychology for over 20 years. Few potential competitors would have my background, experience, and access.