Mental illness is a condition that haunts millions of people across the world. According to the World Health Organization, depression is a common mental disorder, and one of the main causes of disability worldwide.
Globally, an estimated 300 million people are affected by depression, and 800,000 people globally die by suicide each year.
In an attempt to combat complications brought on from mental illness, a pair of siblings, Hannah and Charlie Lucas, may have come up with a reliable source to relieve and comfort those in need.
The teenage entrepreneurs launched the notOK app, a digital panic button to get immediate support
The Lucases created the app for those who may be in distress and need someone to call, text or physically check on them. NotOK uses GPS in order to physically connect users with their designated contacts.
“(The app is) essentially a digital panic button, that when pressed, sends a text message to up to five of a person’s closest contacts,” Charlie Lucas said. “The message says, ‘Hey, I’m not okay.’”
It all started when Hannah Lucas was diagnosed with the chronic illness Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). Hannah’s condition would cause her to frequently pass out, which caused her to miss a significant amount of school. She was also bullied by boys in her class.
“It was just awful,” Hannah said, explaining that she also suffered from depression and anxiety, which caused her to develop an eating disorder. Further, “I even had a couple of suicide attempts,” she said.
Hannah said she wished she had an app similar to notOk, so she could tell her parents and brother about the ways in which she was suffering alone. She told her brother about the notOK app idea one morning, and Charlie was more than happy to help.
Along with being an extremely useful product, Charlie said he is proud of the app’s versatility.
“It’s so flexible. It can be used for anyone, no matter what [the issue is],” he said. “For example, we’ve had a lot of recovering drug addicts message Hannah because she is in charge of social media. They say that this [app] is so great; It’s like having a support group on my phone.”
The siblings’ motto is, “It’s okay to be ‘notOK.’”
Mental healthcare professionals are aware of how difficult it can be to reach out and tell people, “I’m not okay” or “I am suffering mentally.”
Hannah believes that mental health has a stigma attached to it. She recalled how that stigma prevented her from asking for help when she desperately wanted to.
“I didn’t want anyone to know what I was going through, because I didn’t want to be labeled as ‘that person’ or ‘that kid,’” she said. “If people who hear my story can help save at least one life, then it’s all worth it.”
Hannah and Charlie Lucas have received a wealth of accolades and life-altering testimonies by those who have used the notOK app. The siblings have been profiled on networks and in publications such as ABC News, Inside Edition, Black Enterprise and more.
The duo stated that people who suffer from POTS have messaged Hannah via Instagram to thank her for creating the app and telling her story.
Hannah said she is inspired by the feedback, and will continue to encourage those who suffer from mental illness to seek aid when necessary.
“I want people who need help to break away from the fear of being stigmatized, and get the help they need today,” she said.
The notOK app is available for all IOS and Android devices via the App Store and Google Play. To learn more about the notOk App, please visit www.notokapp.com.