Entrepreneur Nuala is CEO of start-up technology company Moment Health whose app screens for perinatal, postnatal and associated anxieties. She is married to Jonny and they have two sons, Henry (4) and Conrad (2).
Q) What was the inspiration behind the Moment Health app and why do you think your idea became one of the most downloaded apps on iTunes and Android in the UK?
Moment Health was conceived with the aim to connect parents with the tools and knowledge they need to sustain good mental health and recover from illness. I really have an urgency to help others – to take away that feeling of having nowhere to go. For the past 10 years or so I have been working in technology companies operating in health and using technology to help people, so when I uncovered the biggest health inequality of all time surrounding maternal mental health I started to build the foundations of a technology company dedicated to offering early intervention to new and expectant parents who could potentially suffer from pre and postnatal depression and anxieties which is 20 per cent of women and 10 per cent of men. The most shocking statistic is that 23 per cent of women who died between six weeks and one year after pregnancy died from mental health related issues. We aren’t hung up on the number of downloads but we are astounded at the 000’s there have been within the app’s first three months on the market. Our ranking in the UK as the #1 health and fitness app sadly shows the scale of the problem and proves the need for the product.
Q) Why do you think the issues concerning perinatal mental health were almost a taboo subject until recent years and how is Moment Health helping overcome the stigma?
At Moment Health we want to make maternal mental health mainstream. Research shows that 70 per cent of women admit they hide or downplay symptoms of mental illness but the positive news is that with early intervention there is an 80-90 per cent recovery rate. Moment Health provides better access to mental health resources and allows users and their clinicians to take the right steps towards recovery.
Q) Which features of the app are parents telling you that they find the most helpful to them?
The tools and knowledge you need to sustain good mental health and recover from illness, such as a checker to help you take next
steps; a tracker for keeping a journal of your emotions; a community for connection and companionship and a locator for finding helpful resources. The symptom checker and mood tracker are really giving the user the opportunity to identify their symptoms and track their mood which leaves them empowered to know when they are good and when they are more challenged – forewarned is forearmed. It is also great because if there is a change in mood they can present the evidence when they visit their clinician which can then lead to the appropriate signposting to treatment. To date we have had been inundated with positive feedback from users about how invaluable the app is to them. Even if you think you’re coping utterly fine it’s such a positive thing to do for your mental wellbeing whilst you go through this insanely huge change as you progress into parenthood.
Q) What would you like to see changing in the way perinatal mental health illnesses are supported and approached?
It would be fantastic if mental health and wellbeing were to be given more attention from the start of a pregnancy. Quite often depression or anxiety can be brought on by the stress or pain from HG and the tradition here in the UK is that we don’t tell anyone we are officially pregnant until the first scan circa 12-14 weeks. The early onset of symptoms could be presenting at this time and therefore it is hard for a woman to get the support and help they need.
Q) What are your future ambitions for Moment Health?
We launched the app in the USA this January and we will continue to develop whilst there is a need for us to better the lives of mums and dads who all deserve the best of care. My future aim is to manage a global company which helps parents at the most crucial stage of parenthood alleviating the huge burden maternal mental health places on society. We also want to build out the offering to support breastfeeding education, exercise and nutrition programmes and ultimately a big goal of mine would be to understand the illness more.
You can download the free Moment Health App from the Apple iTunes Store and Google Play.