Have you ever wanted to have access to some extra mental and emotional support when you needed it most? Read on to learn about Centered, a new app that promotes mental health tools and skills.
2020 has been brutal. It's no secret the toll it has taken on people's mental and emotional health. Between learning to work from home, virtual school, the election, and anything else life throws at you, this year hits hard. How do we handle all this? Therapy is always an option, and virtual options are becoming increasingly popular. But what if you aren't sure you need a therapist at this time? Centered is a new app you can subscribe to that allows you to learn some therapeutic skills that may give your mental health the gentle nudge it needs.
Founder Lexi Lewtan seeks to provide therapeutic tools to subscribers that support mental and emotional health. Not necessarily to replace therapy when it's needed. But instead, to enrich someone's already existing therapeutic or coaching experience. Amelia Peck, who's also a Centered contributor, recently spoke with Lexi about this new venture.
Can you tell us a little bit about Centered and how it works?
Yes! At Centered, we're building the world's biggest site for Mental Health Tools and Skills.
Each week, we text you one mental health "tool" -- an under-10-minute, evidence-based mental health technique, taught on video by a professional practitioner. Our goal is to offer you on-demand, professionally-vetted mental health support when you need it most -- for less than the cost of 1 therapy session!
I've been in the tech startup world for almost ten years now, where I was the first business employee for a hiring platform that grew to 50 employees and $20 million a year in revenue. But when I was in my early 20s, I was doing great at work but really struggling personally. I ended up finding a DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) therapeutic skills group, where I learned one evidence-based coping technique per week in a group setting. The group was very empowering for me; I didn't know that there were actual techniques I could use to combat the overwhelming stress, pain, depression, and anxiety I was managing.
In the years since, I've wanted to learn other therapeutic techniques. However, the process was super difficult and expensive. I found hundreds of technique worksheets online, but learning them was like reading a textbook without a teacher. The "teachers" were therapists and coaches, whose in-person sessions cost over $100 an hour. So I set out to make these techniques more accessible to anyone who needs them online!
How did you choose the content creators? What were you looking for?
We look for therapists and coaches from diverse backgrounds who are excited about teaching tools. We also look for people who want to build online subscription offerings. So, for example, we have a Narcissistic Abuse Recovery specialist who wants to make recovery tools more accessible to people all over the world. She sees tools as a core part of her mission and her business. So we are her technology partner in making those tools accessible.
You are wrapping up beta testing. Can you explain what that process is in general and specifically for this app?
Of course! So when you're beta testing, you aim to learn as quickly as possible from how users engage with a bare-bones version of your product. I ran probably ten beta tests before landing on Centered. In the most recent beta group, we just made a few videos with a few practitioners. We sent the group 1 video per week and got their feedback. This version had some wins in the results. 81% wanted to keep going after four weeks and were interested in referring the platform to a friend.
Mental health content can be a challenge, because you're reaching people who might be distracted because they're struggling. During the beta, we discovered little details that made a big difference in how people consumed tools; we tweaked everything from subtitles to background music to video length and script. This way, we had the highest chance of actually getting through to someone who is struggling.
There are so many other popular mental health apps. How is yours different?
Good question! We're building a marketplace, which I see as quite different than most apps. There are already thousands of therapists and coaches who are trying to create helpful mental health/well-being content on Instagram, but they're having trouble reaching a large audience and also making the return on investment make sense. Centered gives these practitioners centralized distribution, and a low cost offering that people can use on their own, in-between sessions, or even if they can't afford therapy! We think the current product landscape of mental health is too limited to 1 on 1 sessions. And, we believe that a lower cost, self-serve product would serve consumer's need for immediate support that fits their schedule and price point.
I see a lot of apps trying to get the user to have a daily practice, whether it's mood tracking or meditation. When I spoke to potential users, I've found that a lot of people try these apps and then fall off and never come back. With Centered, we're not trying to add another have-to-do to your life; we just want you to have access to professional-level support when you need it most.
Who is your ideal user?
Our ideal user struggles with their mental health on a weekly basis and is familiar with therapy on some level. She (or he, although we lean female) might be currently in therapy or has been in therapy in the past, but recognizes the value of working on her mental health on her own time. And most importantly, she is willing to take ~10 minutes out of her busy life per week to invest in herself.
What do you hope this app will grow to in five years? Or even ten years?
Business-wise, I want to build the biggest marketplace of mental health tools in the world. I think that there are so many techniques out there that can help people feel better in their brains. Also, I want anyone who is struggling to know exactly where they can find them. I think this means doing all sorts of distribution partnerships, so through healthcare, through employers, or any way of reaching people with tools is an avenue we'll explore. I think mental tools will be a bigger market than meditation (which has multiple companies with $1B valuations).
Mission-wise, I want everyone in the world who is struggling to know that there are tools that can help them. That they are not alone, and that there is in-the-moment help a click away. When I was at my lowest, I felt like there was nothing out there that could help me feel better. Thank God I was wrong because it led me to build Centered. Now, hopefully, I'll help millions of people feel less alone in their mental health journey.
Be sure to check out Centered's new website and app, which goes live December 1st. If you'd like to get your first month of Centered Unlimited for free, use the code AMELIA.