Daniel Botcherby (he/him), Co-founder and CEO of Kalda, the LGBTQIA+ mental wellbeing app, shares his experience of creating Kalda and a suite of sexuality and gender affirming digital therapy programmes for all the LGBTQIA+ community and anyone who is sexuality, gender, or relationship diverse. Kalda is one of the companies on the latest cohort of DigitalHealth.London Launchpad.
Loneliness is a predictor for depression and suicidal ideation
The LGBTQIA+ community is disproportionately affected by mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and substance abuse, and are disproportionately discriminated against when accessing mental health support.
Multiple studies show that loneliness in the LGBTQIA+ community is a strong predictor for depression and suicidal ideation (Yadegarfard et al. 2014). And within the trans community, family rejection leads to higher levels of depression symptoms, and social isolation is associated with suicidal ideation.
Loneliness can be extremely debilitating so we’ve been proud to develop a course for the Launchpad that focuses on combating loneliness through a series of short therapy videos.
The course takes you on a therapeutic journey of understanding yourself, recognising positive thoughts of self-belief and self-worth, exploring and understanding the values that are important to you, and building action plans to combat loneliness aligned to your values.
Introducing Kalda the LGBTQIA+ mental wellbeing app
Kalda is an LGBTQIA+ mental wellbeing app providing self-guided digital therapy created by queer therapists. We’ve created courses on finding and exploring your sexuality and gender identity, as well as dealing with issues including managing gender dysphoria, and our latest course “overcoming loneliness”.
The courses are based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT), and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and focuses on the realities and identities of being LGBTQIA+.
Kalda was created in light of the shocking report by Stonewall’s LGBT in Britain (2017) that highlighted that over one in two people in the community experienced depression, and anxiety was as high as 60%.
However when it comes to accessing support from healthcare, almost one in four LGBTQIA+ individuals have witnessed discriminatory remarks by healthcare staff gathered from Stonewall’s health report.
It was really clear that there needed to be a change in the way we approach intersectional identities and develop an LGBTQIA+ focused mental health service.
Built for the community by the community
Kalda was first launched in 2020 working with a panel of intersectional therapists across the LGBTQIA+ banner. Building with the whole community was paramount at Kalda, because even our own identities and personal experiences weren’t enough to recognise the different experiences of the community, so we interviewed over 600 people during our research phase and it allowed us to develop a roadmap of courses for the whole community.
Kalda has carried out several real world studies and initial health evaluation has been extremely positive with reductions in depression by 65.85% and anxiety by 43.32% for users after just two weeks of continuous use, as measured by the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) and the Generalised Anxiety Disorder Questionnaire (GAD-7).
We’re really proud of how effective Kalda is with our growing library of courses. It’s moments like these that continue to give us the drive to serve the best possible courses to the community.
Video therapy courses with LGBTQIA+ coaches
Kalda’s strength lies in our video first approach to digital therapy, working with queer coaches to bring their courses to life and embracing the freedom of expression within the community. It was important to us at Kalda that we brought representation to mental health courses just as we’re seeing more representation in film and tv.
Kalda’s aim is to create the vogue of mental health, an approach that’s explicit in our branding with bold, outspoken colours and the coaches expressing their own personal styles through clothing that encompasses their identities.
Kalda courses are designed to complement existing mental health treatments with its particular focus on LGBTQIA+ issues.
The journey through the Launchpad and hopes for the future
We were overjoyed to join the Launchpad to learn about the NHS structures, pitching to its stakeholders, and better understand the landscape of health evaluation on our journey toward creating a new digital therapeutic.The programme team were immensely supportive throughout the programme providing one- to-ones’s with specialists across each segment of the Launchpad.
Kalda is accessible on both iOS and Android and hopes to bridge the gap in waiting lists for self-referral pathways and reverse the progression of mild to moderate mental health issues.
We are looking to develop relationships with clinicians, GPs, and academic partners to continue to bring mental health support for the LGBTQIA+ community.You can learn more about Kalda at www.kalda.co, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Kalda is on cohort 5 of the DigitalHealth.London Launchpad programme.
The DigitalHealth.London Launchpad is a collaborative programme funded by two of London’s Academic Health Science Networks – UCLPartners and the Health Innovation Network – MedCity, CW+ and receives match funding from the European Regional Development Fund.