Do you know that according to the studies, in 2030, mental illnesses will be the main cause of premature death (Anderson, 2011)? A quarter of the population suffers from an anxiety disorder, but just a quarter of those people seek help. Without saying, the lockdown caused by COVID-19 might have made the mentioned numbers way higher.
Mental health still seems to be an intimate and sensitive topic to our society, even though it's equally important as our physical health. Knowing that it takes 10 years averagely from the first symptom until the person decides to seek help, it's crucial to raise awareness about existing problems and present proper solutions to everyone who seeks help.
Aforementioned reasons, it's an honor to introduce the innovative mental health platform - Pasikalbek.lt, offering online consultations with therapists. We had the pleasure to interview Vaida Stankute, Clinical Psychologist and Co-founder of Pasikalbek.lt, who explained more about the massive mental health demand and how a created platform ensures high-quality therapists' service by using smart video chat tools. Alter State is more than happy to support Pasikalbek.lt and we invite everyone to learn more about their platform in the following Founder's story interview.
We also welcome you to watch video interview with Vaida Stankute, Co-founder at Pasikalbek.lt
What sparked the idea to go to health tech and create Pasikalbek.lt?
The idea of the Pasikalbek.lt was born for a couple of reasons. First of all, I have been working as a clinical psychologist in the mental health field for a while now. My profession made me notice that more and more people, especially in my environment, look for psychologists or psychotherapists.
People were pretty often asking me for recommendations because they didn't know where to start. And suppose they finally book an appointment with a professional psychologist. In that case, it might take up to a few months in the waiting line. Knowing that it averagely takes from 9 to 23 years for a person to seek help after feeling the first symptoms of mental issues (Wang, 2005), just imagine how they are supposed to feel when they have to wait a couple of months to get an appointment.
All the mentioned red flags inspired us to create a solution that became Pasikalbek.lt, a platform connecting vetted mental health practitioners and people looking for psychological help. So far, we see that most people who sign up on our platform book a consultation with a psychologist of their choosing within 1 day.
Explain us how Pasikalbek.lt works
Pasikalbek.lt is super easy to use and I will explain it from two different perspectives: client and psychologist.
As a client, you register by naming a few themes relevant to you and the platform automatically offers you professionals who can help you regarding your concerns. Later, you can check their profiles, choose the one and book your first free consultation. If you find common grounds, you can continue booking the same psychologist or select another one. One small condition for all clients: you must be at least 18 years. And, of course, motivation. We avoid persuasive marketing tactics as ethically speaking, only people who truly need & want should be taking such help.
As a psychologist, you create a profile visible for the platform's visitors. How does the booking process go? You receive messages from clients and book consultations. The platform offers a calendar, massage system and video chat. You don't have to worry about the payment collection, the platform handles it automatically. And you can focus on helping as many people in need as possible.
Can you briefly describe the problem your platform solves?
It is not news that everything moved to the virtual space. Even in the hospital, because of Covid-19 I have been speaking with patients through video calls since I cannot spend more than 15 minutes in one room with them. That's why Pasikalbek.lt becomes a necessary and easy-to-use solution for everyone.
Pasikalbek.lt creates various benefits for a client by making it easier to find a professional you can talk to without additional research. Also, only qualified therapists can work at Pasikalbek.lt, making clients sure they're getting a high-quality service. The platform makes the booking process easy and fast. Forget about the waiting lines. Book the needed appointment today.
Pasikalbek.lt is a space for psychologists who want to start their own practice. As a psychologist, who wants to start a private practice, you have to find a place first. The problem is that you don't know when you will welcome the first client or start getting regular bookings. Additionally, psychologists don't always know how to offer their service and attract the right client. Here Pasikalbek.lt is ready to help.
What tech tools do you use in Pasikalbek.lt?
We use a few smart tools to run Pasikalbek.lt online. To build the core functionality of the platform, we used Laravel backend and Vue js frontend. Also, it's essential to ensure security for video chat infrastructure. We chose to use Twilio that offers low latency, high resolution, and a customizable chat system.
For payment processing, we are using Stripe and their module Connect. The messaging system is custom built to guarantee we control user privacy and high levels of encryption.
It is also worth mentioning that we have encoded our entire database. Messaging content and other sensitive information are encrypted and are NOT readable by our team. We built this functionality ourselves using established cryptography practice.
Share your personal perspective: why is it crucial to talk about mental health loudly?
Being a clinical psychologist, I feel a responsibility to mark out the importance of mental health. At the end of the day, taking care of it is as essential as taking care of your physical health. Opposite to physical health, people don't always acknowledge the first symptoms or know where to ask for help.
Although mental health is an intimate topic, it's to give appropriate attention to it. I gathered a small piece of scientific sources proving the massive mental health issues and explaining why it’s crucial to talk about it loud.
Studies show that in the EU, mental health issues such as anxiety or mood disorders and addictions affect around 165 million people (37% of the EU population).
In 2016 WHO announced that depression is one of the main causes of disability globally (Lake, Turner, 2017).
60% of people suffering from mental health issues never get diagnosed, so never receive proper treatment.
People tend to see GP's or cardiologists rather than mental health specialists (Deacon, Lickel, Abramowitz, 2008; Lepine, 2002; Marciniak et al., 2004).
In 2020 adults were more than three times as likely to screen positive for depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, or both. More than one out of three were screened positive for both (Twenge and Joiner, 2020).
Fear of the unknown raises anxiety in healthy individuals and those with pre-existing mental health conditions (Rubin & Wessely, 2020).
Can you introduce the incredible people behind this idea?
We, including me, are a team of 4 people.
Lukas is my business partner and a great engineer. Always full of exciting ideas and energy to drive projects forward. He ensures that any chaos ends being perfectly organized.
Ilona is a super talented user interface and user experience designer. She is responsible for everything related to visual aesthetics and the client's experiences.
Vytautas is the person who makes the technology work. He is implementing all the ideas we have into code.
I'm, Vaida, responsible for content creation, specialists' selection and platform development process. I'm also working as one of the psychologists on the Pasikalbek. lt platform.
Please share what is your key focus at the moment?
Now, we are extremely focused on service improvement, so scaling the clientele in Lithuania is enough of a challenge for the next 3 months.
We, of course, have the ambition to expand into the Baltics and the Nordics in the future.
There is always room for inspiration. Name 3 golden tips for future women entrepreneurs who want to start a business
Find a good team. I think that is crucial. Starting a new project, you usually need to work very long hours. There is always a lot of excitement and frustration simultaneously, but the right people find the way to sort everything out. Also, sharing the same values is the key element to great communication, even better vibe and general success.
Make sure you have a support system - a mentor or someone you can rely on. It is amazing if you can join a community and have the possibility to share your experience while having a great support system. Alter State is a fabulous place for that. They are always ready to help you with the idea, team, and the steps you need to take.
Think about what to do and dare to do it if it makes sense on paper business-wise. You will find ways to solve execution problems as they arise. Try to see things as learning opportunities—daring means taking risks. Risk-taking doesn't always payout, but you always learn something.
Thank you for the interview, Vaida!