Mental health is one of the biggest issues of recent times, with Kendall Jenner, Emma Stone, Lady Gaga and even The Rock opening up about their mental health issues. Even the royal family has got in on the act, setting up the Heads Together charity. And it’s not just a fleeting issue. The World Health Organisation says depression will overtake cancer as the world’s main 'global disease burden' by 2030.
So it’s not surprising that meditation apps like Calm are going gangbusters amongst consumers. However, meditation and brain training apps are targeted towards cognitive skills. These skills can help with concentration and dementia, for example, but won’t allow you to have better and deeper relationships.
So it’s interesting that a new app has launched to tackle the thornier problem of how to improve your emotional intelligence. That’s the hope of new app startup eQuoo which plans to launch in May this year, but is right now in Beta in the app stores for Australia and New Zealand.
eQuoo is an emotional fitness game that aims to teach you psychological skills in a fun and engaging way. You get to use those skills in a choose your own adventure game, but they are for real-life situations as well.
Founder Silja Litvin (a psychologist) says she was inspired to create the game because "emotional intelligence is more important than IQ when it comes to success in the workplace. If you know how and why you react and feel the way you do, you can navigate through stressful situations and relationships much better.”
Equoo has raised an Angel round, and the investors include Julian Pittam (Investor to Disciple Media, which just had a successful Series B fundraising), Pierre Andurand and other angels.
It's now looking to raise a further round of $1.4m.
As a child, Litvin moved from sunny Southern California to the less-than-sunny Luxembourg and was bullied at school. But things changed when her older sister got a body-language book for her birthday. "The idea that there was a science – a manual, so to speak – about why people did what completely blew my 12-year- old mind. That’s when I decided to become a psychologist: I wanted to spread the good news. eQuoo essentially helps you build up people skills.” Her team also includes, Med Bukey (CTO), Professor Markus Maier (Head of research) and James O’Brien (Lead developer).
In the game, a character, Dr Joy (named after Sigmund Freud – Freud is joy in German) walks you through the learning session. eQuoo allows you to practice the skills in the learning part of the game; unlock a level in the game which leads you to a choose your own adventure story where you need to use the skills to win; gives you feedback on your personality through the Big Five personality test’ let’s you share your personality feedback on social media; learn more about the skills you possess on a deeper level; and anything you learn becomes part of your psychological ‘tool-box’.
The startup opened the Beta in Australia and New Zealand and has a weekly growth rate of 19% and a 4.8 rating in the app store. Phase one will be building advertisement and subscription, but after that, it plans to work with insurance companies as a mental health game that prevents anxiety and depression.
- This article originally appeared on TechCrunch.