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There are a lot of topics that people tend to avoid talking about, like the disproportionate lack of mental health care, or why the tech industry is such a boys club. So whenever I come across apps that address these two issues at once, you’d better believe that I’m going to do what I can to make sure more people know about them.
As part of this year’s International Women’s Day, Google Play spotlighted mental health apps Shine and Wysa, and I’m excited to help you learn more about these positive lifestyle apps, as well as the women who founded them.
Editor’s Note: The below interviews originally appeared on the Google Play app store.
Shine: Calm Anxiety & Stress
Founded by Naomi Hirabayashi & Marah Lidey
About Shine: Naomi Hirabayashi and Marah Lidey created Shine with an acute awareness that while we’re all different, the need for self-care is universal. Google Play caught up with the co-founders and CEOs about creating a truly inclusive mental health app, being women in leadership, and more.
Google Play: What inspired you to create Shine?
Hirabayashi and Lidey: We started Shine because we didn’t see ourselves – a Black woman and a half-Japanese woman – and our experiences represented in mainstream “wellness.” Our bodies, our skin color, our financial access, our past traumas – it all often felt otherized. At Shine, we’re on a mission to make taking care of your mental health easier, more representative, and more accessible.
Google Play: How do you think being women has shaped your career journeys?
As first-time founders and women of color, we’re setting a new example of what leadership structures can look like. Often people struggle to see themselves in the traditional versions of leadership. We want more women, people of color, and anyone from a marginalized community to see successful examples of leadership rooted in inclusion, collaboration, and compassion.
Google Play: Looking back, what advice would you give yourself at the outset of your career?
Remember, you’re building a new version of leadership. Early on in our careers, there was a lot of pressure to conform to a certain “type.” A certain type of employee, a certain type of manager, a certain type of leader. And all of those personas were rooted in outdated, toxic male systems. We would tell our younger selves to keep honoring a new model we’re trying to develop.
Google Play: Can you recommend a meditation session or talk for feeling confident and ready to take on the day?
We recommend starting the day with the Daily Shine. It’s a new, fresh meditation in the Shine app every weekday that’s relevant to what’s happening in the world and designed to help you create a daily self-care ritual. After you listen, reflect on your mood with a Check-in or share how you’re putting the day’s Daily Shine theme into practice in the Daily Discussion.
Wysa: Anxiety, therapy chatbot
Founded by Jo Aggarwal
About Wysa: Wysa provides mental health support with a unique blend of AI-guided listening and professional support. Google Play spoke to the app’s founder & CEO, Jo Aggarwal, about her personal journey and other inspirational women in tech.
Google Play: What inspired you to create the Wysa app?
Aggarwal: I launched Wysa in 2016 after my own struggle with depression. I realized how hard it is to open up to those closest to you. Bots are easier to talk to, but I couldn’t find any that actually helped. I also discovered the power of CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and how it is a skill that can be learned. I wanted to build something that listened and guided you to reframe negative thoughts. Five years and 700 iterations later, Wysa has helped over 4 million people.
Google Play: In the spirit of celebrating & supporting women, can you share another app founder who has inspired you?
I am truly inspired by Whitney Wolfe Herd, the founder of Bumble. Bumble redefined a major category for women in the workplace by building her business, rather than just criticizing how it currently worked. She was able to showcase through her company how powerful women can be by just doing it right.
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