Therapy can help with life's challenges like anxiety and depression. But getting access to therapy can present its own set of challenges.
That's why Shawn Kernes, who previously ran product and technology and general business operations at major companies such as StubHub, eBay post-acquisition, Beyond The Rack, and Boost Media, co-founded the LARKR app for iPhone.
"I really wanted to do something that wasn't about selling more stuff to more people," Kernes told Download.com today at the inaugural Anxiety Tech Conference, in San Francisco, which aims to teach attendees, among other things, how tech can help those suffering from mental illness. "I wanted to do something that really had a positive social impact, and when I got to the mental health space, I was blown away by how big a challenge it is that hasn't been addressed in a meaningful way by technology."
The LARKR app, which consumer launched on iOS earlier this year, works as follows. Launch the iOS app and you'll see four option buttons. My Story helps you track your health by tapping one of six feelings that range from Great to Disaster and see how you're doing over time. Since helping others can often improve your sense of self, Be The Change takes you to a page with ideas for helping others, or you can write and complete your own. Meditation Corner is where you go for nine guided meditations based on your current need -- from Mindful Happiness to Deep Sleep.
Talk Therapy is where you go in the iPhone app for video therapy. After registering with your name, phone number, a profile photo, gender, age, and billing info, and answering a few simple questions, you can schedule a 50-minute video therapy session with a licensed therapist for now or later. After scheduling, you can message your therapist with any issues in the app.
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Shawn Kernes says that a telemedicine app like LARKR, which connects clients to therapists via video puts mental healthcare into the hands of those who would otherwise have trouble accessing it. This can include people living in rural areas or those in urban areas who aren't comfortable walking into a therapist's office due to social stigma. It's also great for elderly people with mobility issues, those with anxiety or depression who struggle with even getting out of bed, or those who need immediate help and just can't wait two weeks to find a therapist and then get an appointment.
While LARKR is open to all, it differentiates itself from competitors like Talkspace and BetterHelp by being video only, subscription free, and open to those under 18, whom Kernes says are particularly comfortable with the technology. Teens can also have trouble accessing therapists due to transportation challenges.
"We're not in this to make a dollar," Kernes says before going onstage for his talk on "Getting Therapy to Those Who Need it Most." "We're in it to drive positive outcomes for people. We're really focusing on the underserved populations who can receive the greatest value and impact from our services."
LARKR is currently only available for iOS on the App Store but an Android version is set to launch this fall.
- LARKR for iPhone connects clients to licensed therapists for video therapy sessions.
- Unlike competitors, LARKR targets teens and young adults who often lack transportation to in-person therapy appointments and also happen to be the population most comfortable getting therapy over their devices.
- Therapy apps for improved mental health (Download.com)
- 5 mental health apps for depression (Download.com)
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- 5 life hacks for relieving anxiety (CNET)
- Anxious? Depressed? There's an app for that (ZDNet)
- Top 5: Ways to help employees with anxiety issues (TechRepublic)