sidekick – The Mental Health Charity co-Founded by University Friends

After an honest discussion about their personal struggles with mental health and finding no luck with mental health apps, James Shrager and Matthew Halstead – friends from University – were determined to do something about it. Collectively they created a mental health nonprofit – sidekick which was launched in March 2020 during the pandemic.

The nonprofit organisation had been in the making for over a year prior to the launch but James and Matt decided to launch “sooner rather than later”. Matt comments, “We believe that a combination of personalised wellbeing exercises, tailored to our own situations, can help us manage our mental health better through this period, and beyond.”

James says, “As someone who suffered from burnout and severe anxiety between 2017 and 2019, I struggled with the overwhelming amount of content out there, and having seen a number of health professionals realised that I needed to use a combination of techniques to support my recovery. So we created the sidekick app in response to this. You set out your goals and the app points you to a manageable and digestible set of content to support your individual needs that become increasingly personalised as you use it.”

sidekick app shown on a smartphone device
The sidekick app

What came as a surprise to the co-founders was the unexpected outpour of volunteers who came forward to support the development of sidekick. This included content writers, marketing managers, psychologists, developers, and UX specialists who have collectively built sidekick into a non-profit organisation and now a registered charity run by volunteers for the community. Alongside their determination to change the mental health industry, volunteers’ free time and expertise is used to support building the app, creating content and podcast episodes.

Sidekick focus on 3 key elements:

  1. Creating tools through their app to encourage self-help
  2. Organising information through guides, blog posts, and social media content whilst increasing accessibility and understanding of mental health
  3. Encouraging and normalising mental health conversations through their podcast

The mental health charity are keen to empower people with tools and guidance, helping them to develop the confidence and resilience to cope with life’s ups and downs. The sidekick app hosts “a multitude of exercises, guides, and meditations, as well as the ability to journal, create affirmations, and understand your ‘sidekick score’ showing you the balance of your life across different key areas”.

New features for the sidekick app are also set to be launched this year, including programmes and additional therapy options. The sidekick podcast continues to raise awareness of mental health and each episode includes a guest from a “normal walk of life”. Topics discussed in episodes will vary, including depression, divorce, postnatal depression, addiction, self-harm, psychosis, and disability.

A spokesperson for sidekick comments, “We provide a gateway into the often overwhelming world of mental health support, helping users find what works best for them quickly and in a way that is accessible, anonymous, and autonomous. To achieve this we aggregate, co-create, and amplify the efforts, reach and impact of those operating in the mental health sphere into a single safe and accessible digital space – our sidekick app. “

To find out more about sidekick, visit their website here.

Posted by

Wellbeing writer, host for The Inspired Narrative podcast and mental health support worker.

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