The Smile Story
“Smile!” - it's one of the most annoying things people can say to you isn't it! So why have we made it the name of our mental health app? And what has it got to do with chronic health conditions?
The name started after our founder, Emma Amoscato, was searching for support to deal with her own mental health which had been affected by her family's health conditions. There were lots of mental health apps available and lots of support online but nothing that really stood up to the complex challenges they were facing.
Many of the messages were based around the premise that things would get better or you could change your circumstances - and that simply isn't the case for many people managing chronic health conditions. So she wondered how can we improve mental health support for this community.
After looking into it, she discovered that research from the King's Fund shows people dealing with chronic health conditions are up to three times more likely to develop anxiety or depression than average. Early intervention has shown to reduce this and she wanted to make it as accessible and affordable as possible.
During her own search for support she discovered one really simple technique that resonated with her - smiling!
The neuroscience of the smile is fascinating. Simply by moving our facial muscles into a smile, it lowers our heart rate, reduces our breathing rate, releases neurotransmitters and signals to our body we are safe. Emma found this was a really useful coping strategy when her anxiety was peaking.
So then, she thought - why didn't I know about this? And why aren't people being given the tools to live well alongside the mental health challenges of managing long-term health conditions? After further research, she built a programme based on five evidence based therapies:
S – Self Compassion
M – Mindfulness
I – Investigate your thoughts (based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)
L – Let go of limiting beliefs (based on Action and Commitment Therapy)
E – Emotional Regulation
A few years later, a lot of conversations with patients, carers and clinicians, a masters in the psychology and neuroscience of mental health at King's College London, and a business accelerator programme - and The Smile App was born!
We are all about empowering patients and carers dealing with long-term health conditions to manage their mental health and improve their wellbeing. We support individual therapy – in fact we encourage it – but know there can be lots of barriers in place. Even when you do access it, you need support in between and afterwards. We also know long-term health conditions are not always linear or predictable and we want you to be able to access support at home, when you need it most.