As we head into the new year, I’m particularly excited about how advanced mental health technology and innovation continue to advance and how the entire eco-system is becoming more accustomed to using such innovations and technology. Today, I’m pleased to welcome the LARKR team to an exclusive AiT interview! Join us as we cover the latest in offer access to quality mental health and therapy services via a mobile device with the LARKR team.
AiT: What is LARKR and why is it unique?
LARKR: LARKR is a newly-released mental health care smartphone app seeking to become the go-to hub for all things related to mental health and self-care. The app provides users with a virtual platform where they can therapy from a licensed clinician from anywhere at any time, log their emotions, get encouragement for actions that will improve their lives and more.
Using a unique proprietary algorithm, LARKR users are matched with certified therapists specializing in their area of need for on-demand video talk therapy sessions at an affordable price.
LARKR is the only app of its kind that provides service to people under 18, one of the most at-risk demographics. The app also supports multi-user, multi-location conferences for convenient group or couples’ therapy sessions. All therapists are U.S.-based and state-certified to practice, keeping to HIPAA compliance laws. Unlike most existing tele-psychiatry platforms, LARKR focuses on impactful talk therapy via video chat, rather than impersonal phone calls, text messaging or simply prescribing medication to treat symptoms.
AiT: LARKR could potentially bring mental health treatment to many more consumers. What do you think is one of the biggest barriers to mental health access today?
LARKR: The most common roadblocks that keep an estimated 60% of Americans who suffer from mental illness from receiving care are: accessibility, affordability and stigma. LARKR’s forward-thinking smartphone app minimizes these barriers to help close that service gap and provide an alternative platform where many people may be more comfortable.
One group for whom this service is particularly revolutionary is people in rural areas, who have limited access to mental health professionals. These patients often have to travel long distances just to reach a qualified therapist, and may face stigma surrounding taking significant time off work or school to do so.
The LARKR app does not seek to replace traditional therapy, and it won’t be the perfect solution for everyone. But it will provide a new convenient alternative or supplement conventional care to help close the massive service gap that currently leaves millions of Americans without treatment.
AiT: How do you foresee younger generations engaging in therapy compared to their older counterparts?
LARKR: While stigma still exists surrounding mental health, younger generations are more open to talking about the subject and possible courses of treatment.
An estimated 75% of mental health issues are identified before the age of 24. Patients are much more likely to improve and continue getting the treatment they need, if they begin therapy by that age.
Also, surveys show that people between the ages of 14 to 24 prefer the use of video chat over any other form of communication, so we intentionally built our service around that preference.
In fact, we were recently approached by and teamed up with a pair of teenage YouTube celebrities – Joey Birlem and Charles Gitnick – to help combat prevalent teen mental health issues.
AiT: Of course, LARKR could offer support to many consumers, but what do you hope LARKR can do for therapists?
LARKR: There are 550,000 licensed mental health practitioners and an estimated 50-70 Million people in the U.S. with mental illness. No one in need should go without help due to lack of access. But unfortunately, due to many of the roadblocks we outlined earlier, people don’t seek care and therapists are left without a full caseload. LARKR’s national platform and algorithm make it easier for both parties to connect.
This groundbreaking app provides an easy and rewarding way for therapists to reach a substantially greater number of people in need nationwide, and to supplement their traditional practices. LARKR is particularly beneficial for therapists who are underutilized in their geographical region, by enabling them to hone in on helping people in their unique areas of expertise who live further away.
LARKR offers therapists the ability to earn a competitive hourly rate, and allows them to focus on their passion and talent for helping others, instead of spending extra time on the administrative side of the business. The app handles client intake and scheduling, matches therapists with patients they’re qualified to serve, streamlines the documentation process, manages marketing, and provides off-hours support, so that all therapists have to worry about is providing excellent care to clients.
AiT: Where can someone sign up?
As the mental health landscape continues to change, LARKR plans to continue to grow and provide new mental health solutions to help those in need. Our team is passionate about ensuring that mental health care is available to all who need it, when they need it, and we look forward to become the go-to app that people use for both therapy and every day for self-care.
About the LARKR Team:
LARKR was created a team of entrepreneurs including husband and wife team, Shawn and Chris Kernes, and their good friend Jon Dabach. Their combined expertise was the perfect recipe to create this groundbreaking platform.
Shawn is a visionary trailblazer in the tech industry. A highly-driven entrepreneur who has spent the last two decades building and managing teams using his exceptional expertise in technology, operations, business strategy, business development and customer service. His professional passion for innovative solutions has cultivated remarkable success rates, driven by his personal quest to wed the best of technology with the unmet needs of society. Throughout his career, he has earned the confidence and respect of the startup community in Silicon Valley and some of the nation’s leading venture capital firms. This impressive business career combined with an innate ability to anticipate the world’s evolving needs through intuitively-friendly platforms have catapulted Shawn to the forefront of his industry. Prior to co-founding LARKR, Shawn was at the helm of exciting burgeoning companies including serving as Senior Director of Product Development at eBay, CTO of StubHub, COO of Cash4Gold, CTO of BeyondTheRack, CTO of Boost Media, CTO of JOIST, and CTO of BuzzMob.
Chris is a highly respected and compassionate licensed marriage and family therapist. In addition to co-founding LARKR, she also serves as Director of Clinical Services at HealthRIGHT360, a major non-profit organization, where she oversees the treatment of clients seeking integrated care, and treatment for mental health and substance use disorders. Her responsibilities include managing various outpatient and residential substance use disorder treatment programs in San Mateo County. Throughout Chris’ professional experience as a therapist, she has received wide praise for her kind, empathetic and engaging approach toward her clients. She is known for cultivating a relaxed, warm and trusting environment where her clients feel profound comfort and trust. Chris’ greatest passion is to help people overcome their challenges through therapy, as their trusted partner.
Jon is a multi-talented designer with more than ten years of experience in user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design and marketing. Jon’s unparalleled creative vision and digital marketing know-how have propelled the innovative technology that serves as one of the driving forces behind LARKR’s groundbreaking online therapy platform. With a special expertise in SEO/PPC and Web Design, Jon’s insights have led to the successful growth of numerous client companies. Jon is also a respected writer and director. Over the past five years, he has written and directed animated content for MTV, VH1, G4TV and other major networks.
LARKR is a groundbreaking new start-up poised to revolutionize mental health care in America by eliminating the barriers that keep approximately 60% of Americans from receiving the help they need. LARKR provides on-demand talk therapy with licensed practitioners through an easy-to-use mobile video platform, widening the reach of mental health care. Through LARKR, patients can also arrange multi-user conferences to accommodate group therapy sessions. Newly released features include additional ways to promote mental well-being. Mood tracker My Story prompts users to journal their moods daily and the reasons behind their mood changes. Guided meditation and daily good deed-suggestor Be The Change encourage helpful self-care activities. For more information, visit www.larkr.com.
By: Solome Tibebu, AiT Contributor