How George Taktak, the founder of “How Mental”, is turning his very personal passion for mental wellbeing into one of the largest online communities for mental health.
Why it matters
The sector of mental health and community wellbeing is evolving rapidly. This is a burgeoning moment and social entrepreneurs like George Taktak are playing a part in proposing solutions like “How Mental” to help people sustain their mental health. A virtuous circle is underway, growing the visibility of the importance of mental wellbeing which is in turn fuels the exploration and discovery of promising new approaches.
A little background
As a recent university graduate, George was looking forward to beginning an internship at a bank. However, on his first day of work in the business district of Canary Wharf he took a hard look around. He was stunned to realize that he “was the only one wearing a red suit in a sea of blue and grey.”
Likewise, his realization coincided with two other important events. Firstly, the chance encounter with a family friend, an entrepreneur who encouraged George to leave banking. Finally, and most importantly was the painful discovery that his grandfather, who lived 5,000 km away, had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
As a result of these events, George’s trajectory began to take a radically different direction.
George set out on a quest.
He wanted to “develop a mobile app able to express a whole language of emotions”. His idea was to use the vibrational motor embedded in smartphones to reach out to his ill grandfather.
George was convinced he could find “different ways of using a telephone, a piece of hardware, which often feels like something very soul-less, and making it into something that is creative and magical.”
The big picture
What began as a quest to develop a tool to communicate with his grandfather has now become “How Mental”.
“How Mental” is both an app and a multi-platform community with over half a million followers. “How Mental” the website is rapidly becoming an essential mental health resource site for countless people.
As importantly, “How Mental” the app offers people the ability to create support networks and monitor their personal mental wellbeing. Furthermore, the app also includes guided meditation, therapy, journaling, events, sleep support, podcasts… the list runs long.
George knows there is no simple roadmap for social entrepreneurs. “Certainly there have been many bumps in the road” George recalls, “For instance, I would meet potential investors and they would say, ‘This is ridiculous! Who cares how people are feeling? No one cares about something like this – this isn’t going to make any money, it’s a charity case!’”
George laughs, “And now, it’s huge! Everyone is talking about mental health. It’s such an important space for innovation. And because the private sector is coming in we get innovation, continuous change and new ideas.”
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George is now focusing on creating intersection between the “How Mental” app and the “How Mental” Instagram community. His aim is to create focused support networks and give people access to the resources that best suit their current needs.
“Different things work for different people. That’s how it looks – a community of people helping each other. A community of services that supports these people, with everyone coming together to help each other feel like themselves. No one single service is the answer.”
As a social entrepreneur, George is driven to develop solutions that solve big problems. During times like these (aka pandemic), George is committed to building community and awareness. He sees mental wellbeing as a critical part of healing and moving forward.
Read the Full interview with George Taktak
Visit howmental.com Instagram: @howmental
Feature image credit: Helena Lopes “Coffee Gathering” – Unsplash