Friends in San Antonio create a mental health app for your inner circle

SAN ANTONIO – You’ve probably heard the term “check your strong friends” – that anyone can struggle with mental health, no matter how they see the world. But how can we do that?

It can be hard to know when to do it for your loved ones or to make time for a call when we are all living our lives.

In the midst of a pandemic, as much of the world is looking for ways to clarify mental health, the two San Antonio activists want to make the difference easier than ever.

“There’s this desire to talk to people about mental health. But what I’ve noticed is that no one wants to go first, “said Lorenzo Gomez.

He and Steve Cunningham are the founders of the ‘We Tree’ app. They call it the “Mental Health Minute” because that’s all they need. The first 30 seconds is a daily survey with eight questions based on the science of positive psychology about your day and mental health. Questions are answered using a rating system from 1 to 5.

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Gomez believes that society has been conditioned to fake a smile or to ask how we are always responding “right”. The number system used in the app makes it easy to share how someone really feels.

“Even the people you love every time you fight, you tell yourself this lie, that is, I don’t want to bother them and I don’t want to burden them with my problems. So the application is very simple. It’s more likely to click on someone who says “I’m fighting,” rather than telling someone I’m fighting, ”Gomez explained.

Once you’ve submitted your assessment, you’ll see how your ‘inner circle’ has responded to its own. The inner circle is made up only of the people you choose. Cunningham said it is often a group of 2-10 people and families.

“You’ll see what they post too. And when someone is okay, you approach them and give them a little encouragement. And when you see that it’s going to be a tough day, you’re going to come in and see how you can help, “Cunningham said. [It’s] to facilitate this real-world connection and these deep and meaningful conversations that people don’t have right now. “

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Cunningham came up with the idea for the app while working in the personal development space. He introduced his loved ones to an exercise where they shared their goals in various areas of life, including emotionally and psychologically. He was shocked to learn that each person was struggling with fear and anxiety.

“And I didn’t know … and I’ve known a lot of these people for a long time,” he said. “They weren’t talking to me about it. They didn’t post on social media. So, we come up with ideas, and to see them flush it out, it’s really fun.

Gomez, on the other hand, has already found a way to start a conversation about mental health. In 2019 he wrote ‘Tafolla Toro: Three Years of Fear’, a book about his struggle growing up on the city’s West Side during a time of great crime and violence. “I saw a lot of violence when I was 12, I didn’t know what to do with it,” he said. It wasn’t until he decompressed his childhood experience that he knew he needed to “go first” in therapy in his early 30s.

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“Just like a fitness trainer gives you exercises … There are some tools in the mental health field that I didn’t even know existed. That’s why I want to give this tool to people who may have grown up like me who may not have known about it [mental health] it was one thing to grow up or not to talk about their feelings, ”Gomez said.

Although society has paid more attention to the normalization of things like therapy and self-care, not everyone has the same access. Gomez and Cunningham believe that 90% of mental health can be repaired using what we already have.

“All the research shows that the best way to deal with fear, anxiety and depression is to surround yourself with a network of people with whom you can share your challenges,” Cunningham said. “Being a therapist, doing a workout routine or meditating is good, but it is not enough. And the only thing left in the world right now is the ability or the tool to help people have better and stronger relationships. ”

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We Tree is available on the desktop. Gomez and Cunningham are a few weeks away from launching their mobile app.

There are different plans to choose from starting with the basic free plan. You can find more details on their website.

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