Whisper launches mental health nonprofit to help depressed

With the perplexity and agony of suicide dominating public thought and conversation in the wake of Robin Williams’ death this week, social media app Whisper has launched a nonprofit site where people struggling with depression can ask for emotional help.

Whisper, the Southern California startup that makes an app for anonymous messaging, launched on Thursday a site called YourVoice, where users can submit videos describing their personal battles against depression and mental illness, offer messages of encouragement to others and find support resources. Users can also chat with others who are dealing with similar issues.

Social messaging apps such as Whisper, San Francisco-based Secret and Georgia-based Yik Yak have all become, in addition to networks on which to spill business secrets and romantic crushes under the protection of anonymity, an outlet for troubled souls to confess their worries, anxiety, depression and thoughts of suicide. Whisper founders Michael Heyward and Brad Brooks “were blown away by the onslaught of Whispers expressing emotional pain,” they said, so they invested $1 million of their own money into YourVoice.

According to tech news site Recode, Whisper has referred more than 40,000 users to suicide hotlines.

YourVoice, which is a 501 c(3) not-for-profit, aims to serve as a springboard for people with depression to get help and an education to illuminate how many people struggle, and ultimately prevail, over mental illness. According to the site: “The truth is, one out of four young adults has some form of mental health issue. You are not alone. No matter how painful or how messed up your life might seem, there is hope and there are many people out there who have struggled with and overcome similar issues.”

Screenshot from Your-Voice.org

Heather Somerville Heather Somerville (248 Posts)

Heather Somerville is a business reporter covering venture capital and startups for the Bay Area News Group.