Emotional isolation affects everyone, young and old alike. It goes beyond loneliness and influences mental health.
Suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in the United States. An immensely significant number. Suicide crosses age groups from youth to the elderly. We are in need of tools and resources to prevent suicide.
In 2020 there were almost 46,000 deaths by suicide and almost 1.2 million suicide attempts reported. The risk of suicide increases with a diagnosis of mental illness such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, drug addiction, schizophrenia, and others. Emotional isolation is also a risk factor.
Anxiety and depression often cause emotional isolation, and the breakdown of relationships, and result in suicide attempts. In the US 40 million adults, 19.1% of the population have generalized anxiety disorder. In addition, 8.4%, or 21 million people have depression. Many times anxiety and depression go hand in hand.
How can we improve quality of life and reduce the incidence of emotional isolation? Steve Cunningham has created a solution, WeTree.
The survey that initiated the search for a solution to end emotional isolation
As the founder of Read It For Me, Steve conducted a survey of his users and how they were using the tool to learn and grow. He discovered that every person that took the survey mentioned dealing with fear and anxiety or disclosed that they’d been dealing with depression for a very long time. As the prevalence of anxiety and depression increased throughout the pandemic, Steve decided he needed to do something to help people be comfortable about sharing emotional and mental health struggles.
As Steve did research on mental health, he discovered that everything came back to emotional isolation, also known as loneliness. Interestingly, most people don’t consider themselves lonely. However, when you ask them if they have someone to discuss personal and important subjects with, they say no. Most people do not have anyone to talk to when they are dealing with challenges, or when they have something good to share.
Ultimately, emotional isolation is the cause of drug addiction, the lack of people to talk to.
The three components at the foundation of WeTree
The goals result is better mental health, the problem is emotional isolation, and the result is authentic connection. WeTree is designed to help families and to help people who do not even know each other. There is much intimacy in the app.
Martin Seligman, the grandfather of positive psychology created the field when he was president of the American Psychological Association. His theory of well-being includes PERMAH, Positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, accomplishment, and physical health. Physical health interacts with mental health.
Movement is medicine for the mind.
Steve did more surveys to discover how well people were doing relate to PERMAH. What they discovered, and they aren’t sure, is that people are more likely to respond and share through an app. The important fact isn’t that they want to share within an app, but that they are willing and want to disclose both positive and negative emotions, feelings, and experiences. The survey or app also has two open-ended questions, what are you most grateful for today and what do you need help with today?
An app for all ages
The story of Steve’s daughter
Steve shared the story of his 11-year-old daughter using the app. She reported feeling sad and that one word opened the door for Steve to have a conversation with her about her feelings. He then had the opportunity to tell her how important it was to talk about her feelings.
Steve is finding that people are more comfortable disclosing feelings on the app than in person, often because they don’t have the words to disclose or explain their feelings.
When people are struggling emotionally or with mental health, quite often they can’t put their feelings into words to describe them. This is one of the driving factors for Robyn’s writing You, Me, and Anxiety.
The story of Steve’s father
Not only do people not feel comfortable talking about negative feelings and emotions, but they tend to avoid speaking of positive experiences and feelings as well. This may be because of fear that people will make fun of us, or tell us that what we want to do isn’t possible.
Steve asked his father to complete the survey of the twelve things he wants most in his life. One of the twelve questions was what are your adventure goals? His father responded with Hawaii and France.
Once Steve read this, he asked his father three questions: Can you tell me more about that, why is that important to you, and how can I help?
When we dig into the things that are important to people, we discover that there is a story behind them. And often, the person has been dying to tell the story. The reason no one tells these stories is that no one ever asked. WeTree gives people the opportunity to interact with others in these 12 areas. It allows for connections to develop.
What if you don’t have family on the app
Steve encourages people to invite people they know to join the app too. But sometimes, people want to make friends and connect with new people. Maybe a group of CEOs or a group of retirees, or even widowers. Using this tool is a way to build authentic connections with people quickly. Steve is now working to develop an aspect of the app for people to create groups.
Data on the responsiveness of teens and youth on the app
Steve does not have this data as they do not know exactly who uses the app.
The Logistics of the WeTree App
You can download the IOS app, Android is coming soon. There is a free account that gives you one connection. If you want to unlock unlimited connections is $9.99 per month or $79 per year. This gives you the opportunity to create groups on the app, like a church group, employees, class at school, or family groups.
The opportunities for growth, business improvement, relationship improvement, and overall improvement of mental health are priceless. Ending emotional isolation is powerful and necessary.
About Steve Cunningham
SteSte is the founder of Read It For Me and WeTree. He was a lawyer for one week and an entrepreneur since. He not only reads business books and provides summaries for others to read and learn from, but is on a mission to help end emotional isolation.
Learn more about Steve and get the WeTree app:
A free resource to help you navigate anxiety
If you’ve been struggling with anxiety, take action to navigate it by downloading my free eBook, Alleviating Anxiety by Developing Healthy Habits for a Healthy Mind.