Andrea Campos
Founder Director
View from the Top

Mental Health Through the Chatbox Connection

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 17:32

Q: Treatments for depression include psychological and even pharmacological care. How does Yana contribute to mental health?
A: Treatment for most mental health conditions like depression or anxiety may include therapy and, in some cases, medication. At Yana, we do not try to compete with these two types of treatment but rather to provide a way to connect the user with the adequate treatment. Many people struggle with mental health issues but can take a long time before seeking help. In Mexico, the average time between experiencing the first symptoms and seeking help is 14 years. We try to eliminate the barriers that stand in the way, including the stigmas that stop people from speaking out.
Yana is not only for those with depression or anxiety; it is meant to help anyone to improve their mental health state. Yana is designed to help people overcome the obstacles in their lives and become better versions of themselves. For many, this can help people to seek out therapy sooner, drastically reducing the current average of 14 years it takes for people to seek help, and prevent them from committing suicide. For others it can help them to take more control of their lives, go to the gym, get a job, or pursue a passion.
While Yana does not replace therapy, we do use cognitive-behavioral strategies that are usually delivered in therapy and put them in the hands of hundreds of people so they can benefit from them at any day, at any time, using their smartphone. Since Yana is automated, it can talk to 1 person or 1 million people at the same time, without the need of human intervention, unless it is necessary.
Q: You have several competitors but they are all in English. Are you a unique product in the Spanish speaking world?
A: In Spanish, there is no other application like ours. There are apps that reach out through chat platforms, but they do not offer the intelligent conversational model. We provide automated responses trained to recognize your particular answers.
We launched a private Minimum Viable Product on February 2018, but did not want to launch it to the public until we got the approval from COFEPRIS. We do not need a medical license because we do not offer a medical treatment or provide any medical tools; however, we do want to follow its regulations because we work in the arena of health. Our goal is to launch Version 1.0 and reach around 10,000 users by the end of 2019. Yana’s Version 1.0 will be released through Facebook Messenger and will be powered by natural-language processing and machine learning to better understand our users’ language. This version will include a way in which users can understand their thoughts and feelings on a daily basis so we can paint an accurate picture of their situation and provide tailored recommendations to make positive changes in their lifestyle.
Q: How does Yana’s business model work in terms of subscription, in-content ads and other revenue generators?
A: We intended to be a civil association but we decided against it because we did not want to depend on public funding. This would limit our possibilities to reach as many people as needed.
Although Yana will be free for our users, in the medium term, we are going to seek for different forms of revenue streams. One option is a subscription model, where we can offer different packages that give access to different parts of the chatbot and for different lengths of time. Another option could be a B2B model, which would require us to work with institutions that want to improve the mental health status within their workspace. An example is a university that could receive information about the emotional state of their students by using our chatbot. By having a better picture of where critical issues occur, institutions can take steps to change. We have also looked at the option of insurance companies covering our services. This has been challenging because insurance agencies want guarantees regarding the length of treatment and whether it will have an impact on the patient.