ARTICLES, HEALTHY LIVING & WELL BEING. EATING DISORDERS
How One Social Media App Is Improving Mental Health for Everyone Who Uses It
You’ve been here before.
Alone. Misunderstood. Left feeling like nobody understands (or even cares) what you’re going through. Like not a soul in the world can relate to your pain, your struggle, or your confusion. It’s hell not having anyone to talk to.
Whether struggling with mental health, relationships, school, work, your sexuality, family issues or every possible crossroad and complication in between — sometimes, it feels like there’s no other option but to hide and figure it all out for yourself.
Let’s face it:
Most of the time it just doesn’t feel safe to open up and be vulnerable around others.
But what if it didn’t have to be this way?
What if, during the periods of your life when you were searching for answers — or just wanted to share your thoughts and feelings without being judged — there was a place for that?
What if, when you wanted to share something personal about your life and get it off your chest, you knew there were people who wanted to listen?
And what if you knew those people would be able to relate to you?
Sounds like a social utopia you could get behind, doesn’t it?
Fortunately, it’s actually a lot closer to reality than you’d expect.
Enter Lyf App — a brand new social media platform promising spaces without judgement, and offering 10 times the peer support you could possibly find anywhere else.
SOS Safety Magazine had a chance to interview the team at Lyf App about their new platform, the powerful and inclusive environment they’ve created for their users, and what it means to create social media ecosystems that thrive on helping others to improve their mental health, rather than destroy it.
What exactly is Lyf and what do you define your mission as?
Lyf is a new social media app where users share highly personal aspects of themselves without the fear of judgement. In Lyf we don’t follow profiles. Instead, we follow beats. A beat is your journey. Your say, story, vent, timeline, what’s happening and why. It provides an opportunity for us to focus on one aspect of ourselves at a time. They can be about anything we are thinking, doing, experiencing or struggling with in life. Each beat has its own timeline and privacy setting and you can have as many as you want.
In addition to showcasing beats, the entire platform has been built with support in mind. Instead of a “like” button, we have a “support” button which expands into various supportive reactions including “stay strong” and “you inspire me”. Those who can relate can make friendship requests and talk privately on the app if they wish.
Our mission is to turn what was going to be a bad day into a better one for our users.
Where did the idea for Lyf come from?
The idea came from Lyf CEO, Edward Wittenberg who, before co-founding Lyf, struggled with debilitating insomnia and the fallout from that.
“I really would have liked something like Lyf back then. I was left dealing with the fallout with just a handful of family and close friends who wanted to help but, because they had never suffered from insomnia, could not relate. They didn’t really know what to say or do. The result was that I felt totally alone.” – Edward Wittenberg, CEO at Lyf
Lyf promises to be a platform where users can share highly personal aspects of themselves without the fear of judgement – can you explain how you’re able to accomplish this?
We realise that people suffering from mental health challenges usually do not wish to disclose their struggles to employers or work colleagues. This goes especially for people dealing with any kind of addiction.
People questioning their sexuality, their gender or having any kind of sex-related problem often do not wish for their family, friends or contacts to know. Same goes for people struggling with relationship issues or even questioning their relationship altogether.
People fear judgement. We are able to provide an environment where users can share highly personal and even “embarrassing” aspects of themselves by offering an opportunity to wear a fun virtual disguise which provides anonymity to all lyfers’ posting a beat.
In a world where social media platforms are proving to be addictive, and overuse of them harmful to our mental health, your statement that Lyf is “social media minus the judgement plus 10 times the support” is certainly a promising one. Can you tell our readers how you’re different from other social media platforms and what steps you’re taking to ensure users are being protected against the negative aspects social media often delivers?
Lyf acknowledges the negative aspects of mainstream social media and has taken several precautions to keep its users safe.
Unlike anonymous apps of the past, anonymous beats are kept troll free by allowing only the beat maker to post and comment anonymously while followers must use their username to comment. Any violations of our community guidelines can be dealt with by banning and blocking the offender. All content on the app is monitored 24/7 by our content monitoring team who vigilantly enforce our community guidelines.
We believe it’s our responsibility and duty of care to our users to respond to all user reports as close to immediately as possible providing an extra layer of protection from bullying, harassment or inappropriate content.
What have you found most surprising about how users engage with your platform? Are there certain features or ways of interacting with the platform that are more popular than others?
We have a feature within chat called “Lyf link” which is becoming more and more popular. By tapping “Lyf link”, you will be instantly connected with a random Lyfer who has a beat in the same category as yours. This provides an opportunity to become friends with random people from all over the world who can relate to the same struggle or life issue that you are going through.
What has been Lyf’s biggest accomplishment thus far?
It’s an accomplishment for us if we can help to make what was going to be a bad day into a better one. With this in mind, we view each positive review in the app store as evidence of having accomplished a lot. With just over 100K downloads there is now a considerable number of reviews talking about how our app has helped and made a significant difference in the days and lives of our users.
Does Lyf focus efforts on connecting directly with youth? If so, what have you found to be successful methods of connecting with them?
Lyf welcomes teenagers (13-18) to its platform and has taken a number of precautions (which mainstream social media platforms are yet to take) to provide cyber-safety for teens.
Firstly, when a teen creates a beat solely under the teen category then only other teens will be able to view and comment on it (with the exception of our content moderating team). On Lyf, friend requests are restricted to beat followers only so teens can feel safe in the knowledge that they will never have to interact with an adult unless they chose to.
Secondly, Lyf does contain some adult content and imagery held solely with the “lust” category where users must declare they are over 18 to activate. The moment a teen creates a teen beat they are no longer able to access the “lust” category on the app. Vice-versa, the moment an adult activates “lust” they are no longer able to create a beat under “teen”.
Does your organization aim to raise awareness for mental health issues? If so, in what ways are you trying to accomplish this?
As Lyf is brand new we have had our hands full with the development of the app. In the future, we plan to help raise awareness by partnering with not for profit organisations which work to address anxiety, depression and other mental health-related issues. For now, we believe that normalising the conversation and providing a space for people to be visible and transparent about their struggles raises awareness itself.
Why do you think mental health related issues are so prevalent in young people (students in grade school/college/university) today?
We feel that traditional social media has not been helpful in this area and has had a hand in young people constantly comparing themselves to their peers who, like adults, are using filters and highly curated images of themselves to capture the superficial highlights of their lives and presenting it as normal everyday life.
What advice would you offer someone who is currently struggling with a mental health related issue?
We would advise that, no matter how alone and lonely that person is feeling, there are many others around the world going through the same. Through Lyf they are now able to reach out and meet these people who will be able to understand. Try it. There is comfort in the knowledge that you are not alone and that others relate.
What’s the one thing you think could be done that would change the world the most?
Things don’t have to change the world to be important. If we can say that one of our users was going to have a bad day but, because they stumbled across our app, they had a better one then that is important to us. If the same user comes back the next day with the same outcome, then we are really onto something. If this user comes back day after day, month after month and then year after year then this user will have had better years than they were going to have and maybe even a better life. Improving someone’s life is super important and the very reason why we are doing what we do.
For anyone suffering, what do you think is the most important message for them to hear?
Your feelings are valid because they are yours, but you’re not the only one to feel this way. Reach out if you need help. There are resources available, and there is always someone available online who understands.
What do you want Lyf to mean to other people?
We would want Lyf to become the place people go to truly express highly personal aspects of themselves without the fear of judgement in order to empower them to face their daily lives.
Do you have any new projects/news/developments people should be looking out for? And where can people connect with your organization if they want to learn more and become part of the community?
We are always working on development with quite a few exciting new features waiting in the pipeline. People can connect at www.lyfapp.com or simply download the app.