Founder of mental wellness app KeepAppy, Aimée-Louise Carton tells us about her struggles with mental illness, why she launched KeepAppy and the negative effects of social media …
I suffer with PTSD and Borderline Personality Disorder, and it was while I was getting the care I needed to recover that I became more and more passionate about fighting and changing the stigma of mental illness. I’m hoping to use my own personal experiences to create a change in how we approach mental health and general wellbeing.
During my recovery, I wanted to practice different wellness techniques, and being a millennial I automatically reached for my phone. The only options I found were meditation focused, which actually went against my doctor’s advice as meditation was not suitable for my personality or experiences with PTSD. I could see a gap in the market for a complete wellness app which covers lots of different tools like journaling, mindfulness and mood trackers, all of which are recommended by doctors, but often overshadowed by the successful marketing of meditation.
At its core, KeepAppy is a self-help toolkit which aims to empower, educate and cultivate wellness for each of our users. It is a holistic wellbeing app created to help users maintain their mental wellness. It has eight features in its toolkit which are focused on our three central pillars of prevention, growth and care. But KeepAppy isn’t just for those with mental health issues, it’s for everyone who has a general interest in living a more positive and wellbeing-oriented lifestyle. Everyone can benefit from improving their wellness and taking control of their mental wellbeing. We specifically target Gen-Z and millennials because they are smartphone-oriented and have higher levels of wellness awareness, and also because KeepAppy is a digital platform and typically younger people respond better to digital health solutions. However, we’ve designed and developed KeepAppy in a user-friendly way so it can be accessible for every user, both younger and older.
Whether or not social media is entirely to blame for the increase in mental illness across the millennial generation, I’m not entirely sure. It’s hard to avoid the clear evidence of bullying, harassment and persecution of people online – everyone can see the negative aspects of social media. I think the concept of beauty and masculinity have also been really digitally warped into something terrifying because we’re now all comparing ourselves to the constant barrage of perfect-looking photoshopped people, and this is taking its toll on everyone’s mental wellbeing and thoughts about themselves and their own self care.
I think the way social media has impacted our mental health is also happening on a more subconscious level. For the first time ever, influential people such as celebrities, athletes and business leaders are now completely accessible. Celebrities and influencers now share their lives with us, but they spend their time highlighting just how “normal” and “like us” they are. In reality, it’s not the case that everyone is the same, most people can’t afford personal assistants, private chefs, expensive face creams or personal trainers. But by becoming so accessible and by positioning themselves in the same line as us, “regular” people are now automatically comparing our seemingly grey and worn out lives to their carefully curated ones. When we consistently compare lives it can lead to diminished feelings of self-worth, given that “I’m a failure” or “I’m unlovable” are often at the root of much mental unwellness.
However, on my darkest days I find the most solace from connecting with the nameless and faceless accounts on Twitter who have now become my anonymous friends. I see pockets of the internet where the mental health community have created a safe and truly caring environment and everyone is united by their shared experiences. With the likes of Instagram and Facebook, an explosion of ‘real vs Instagram’ photos prove that people are sick of the generally accepted norms of photoshopping and posing, and we’re now moving towards recognising how unrealistic these norms have become. It’s clear that times are changing and people are starting to see through the photoshopped world we now live in.
As I suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder and PTSD, I go to therapy quite regularly and take antidepressants, just as someone with a physical illness may have to go to a doctor and take medication. Additionally, I practice self-care by journaling, doing yoga and writing in my gratitude diary every single day. The reason I practice these things every day is because we need to stop thinking that self-care is just about getting through the rough days, but rather that we should be aiming to feel great and happy as often as we can because life is simply too short, with too many unknowns, not to!
KeepAppy’s Kickstarter campaign will run until August 16 and has a funding target of €27,590. Pledges will receive early bird rewards and first access to the app which is due to launch on August 28. www.kickstarter.com
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