Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in mental wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Amy Mezulis, PhD., Co-Founder of Joon Care, located in Seattle, WA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Anyone paying attention to the news, or anyone who parents, teaches, or knows a teen, is aware of the mental health crisis among US youth. Depression among 10-24-year-olds has jumped by 60% in the last 15 years; in fact, suicide is now the second leading cause of death among this age group. There is a desperate need for innovative solutions to make high-quality, evidence-based mental health care more accessible to more youth. At heart, that is the business of my company Joon Care.
We provide teletherapy for teens and young adults ages 13-24. All of our therapists are experienced working with youth and help address a variety of symptoms from anxiety and depression to disordered eating and self-harm. All sessions occur on our mobile app, and between weekly sessions, clients can use our app to learn new therapy concepts and skills and track their moods.
Tell us about yourself
I am a clinical psychologist by training, with all of my career devoted to understanding what causes, prevents, and treats adolescent mental health problems. I’ve spent most of the last 20 years in academia, teaching in a Ph.D. program and conducting NIH-funded research on pathways to depression, self-injury, and suicidality among teens and young adults. When my last federal grant ended in 2019, I was looking for my next passion project. In particular, I was looking for an endeavor that felt like it would have more impact on more people than the traditional ivory-tower process of generating research publications that are read by only a select few other academics. When I met my now co-founder, Josh Herst, and we started brainstorming how to use technology to bring innovation to mental health care for teens and young adults, I was hooked. Josh had a vision for using technology to make what we know works for treating mental health problems - evidence-based care - more accessible and engaging for clients to access and more compelling and easier for therapists to deliver. The result is Joon Care, which provides a platform for therapists to deliver evidence-based care via teletherapy through a web platform that includes high-quality session planning tools, assessment data, and integration of skills practice to the client experience. Clients engage in therapy through a mobile app that includes the video platform, assessment and mood tracking tools, and both on-demand and customized skills practice to enhance the work of face-to-face sessions.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My “business” is mental health care, so what really matters to me is that the teens and young adults who come to Joon get the help they need. And our commitment to evidence-based care extends to our internal evaluation as well - we carefully collect and analyze clinical outcome data regularly. The first time we had enough clients who had completed treatment to actually evaluate if Joon Care had worked for them, I was both excited and nervous to dig deep into that data. Those first analyses showed what we’d hoped and worked for - that therapy with Joon was significantly improving clients’ depression and anxiety symptoms. Our clinical outcomes meet, and in most cases actually exceed, published outcomes for outpatient mental health care. Being able to help provide therapy that works for those that need it the most is my biggest accomplishment.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Being a business owner, especially in the mental health field, comes with a tremendous amount of responsibility. I’m responsible for designing and overseeing the care our therapists provide to our clients, and I’m responsible - at least in part - for the productivity and happiness of the employees who work with me.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Follow your passions! We will invest our time, sweat, tears, and energy into things that we truly believe in; you’re way more likely to be successful if you passionately believe in what you’re trying to build.
- People matter! Build a team that you trust that share your passion, and then empower them with the tools and independence to help you build that vision.
- Be patient! While the news is filled with unicorns and massive SPAC deals, most companies are built the old-fashioned way - through time, hard work, dedication, and commitment.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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