Henry Jones CEO of Togetherall talks about the need for a digital peer support community for people with mental health concerns.
With more people looking for help with depression, anxiety and mental health needs, there is a huge gap in available and effective support and treatment. Henry Jones, CEO of Togetherall says a peer-to-peer support network will help.
Neverbland: What is Togetherall exactly?
Henry Jones: Togetherall is a digital peer support community for people suffering from anxiety, depression and other mental health concerns. It’s anonymous, available to people 24 hours a day, and moderated by a team of clinically-led mental health professionals. They make sure it’s a positive, safe community. We are also there to identify anyone who might be at risk to themselves or others.
NB: How did the company start?
HJ: Firstly, I’m not the founder. The company was set up 15 years ago and I was brought in as CEO in 2019. The organisation was known as ‘Big White Wall.’ The founder had been walking through East London and saw housing that was being prepared for demolition. On the boarded-up white walls, members of the community had drawn pictures and written notes of support for one another and used the wall to express their feelings. The idea was born to create a digital version of that.
NB: What a poignant image. So that’s how it started – how’s it going?
HJ: Over 300 organisations now provide Togetherall access in the UK, North America and New Zealand. The largest are bodies like Alberta Health Services in Canada and the smallest being a film school in London. Togetherall is widely used in university education but we also do a lot of work with health services, NHS Trusts and CCGs. And we also work with other organisations that are working with employers, charities service providers.
NB: Why do you think there has been such a demand for Togetherall?
HJ: I think the need has always been there, but poor mental health has not always been fully accepted, identified or understood. Data shows us that there is a greater demand than before for mental care and support owing to a reduction in stigma more than an epidemic of depression. Although Covid has created a real mental health challenge. And we will feel the reverberation of that for a long time.
NB: Why is community so important?
HJ: The understandable emphasis on delivering treatment for mental illness can overshadow the need to offer ways to support mental wellbeing more broadly. Peer support is proven to help people in mental health and healthcare pathways. There’s a unique focus on people sharing their lived experience with each other. What is powerful about that is you don’t just get help by receiving it from others, you get it by giving support too.
NB: And this could get more support to more people who need it?
HJ: To break the demand and supply challenge, the problem requires a one-to-many model. What’s really special about our platform is for every about 3,000 additional people who get support, we have to add one mental health professional. So we supported somewhere in the region of 100,000 people last year. We did that with 30 mental health professionals.
NB: And this problem isn’t going away, is it?
HJ: There are estimated to be 700m people in the world living with anxiety and depression. If we don’t find clever ways to utilise community – especially people wanting to give back or support each other – I think it’s going to be hard to make a difference.
To find out how a digital product studio like Neverbland helped them on their journey please follow the link.