Why Bravely — how my mental health struggles led me to start a new venture.
When Bravely first started, it remained nameless for a long time.
I remember the day I started seriously thinking about building Bravely. It was in the middle of a grey cold winter in Edinburgh — and I was having a really hard time. Bundled up and shivering in a cafe, tearfully on a call with someone on my Melewi team.
“I’m not really sure how much longer I can do this.”
She asked what “this” meant. I stayed silent. I wasn’t sure what to say.
All I could tell her was that something had been wrong for a long time. And in the last few weeks, had become crippling.
Her concern made its way to me from thousands of miles away. And then: “I’m sorry, Mel, but I think you have to say something.”
She was right. I needed to tell the rest of my team. But I was hesitant. How would everyone react? The thought was terrifying.
The next day, I paced the kitchen counting down the minutes while gathering up my courage. And then, I told everyone the secret I’d been keeping. The secret that for the entire time they have known me (some for over a decade), I have been, all this time, battling with my mental health.
Their reaction was unanimously supportive and brought enormous relief. We decided I needed a break. Melewi had spent the last years gearing up to be autonomous, and so in my absence, not only was the team able to survive, but they were able to thrive.
So I stepped back. And filled my time with thinking. Thinking and feeling.
Painfully remembering how difficult struggling with my mental health has been for the last 20 years.
Indignant there are so many people battling like I was.
And angry that when the struggle hits, it always comes with the sinking feeling of not knowing what to do or where to go.
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It was demoralising knowing how many people were similarly struggling, not having anywhere to go. It felt like something needed to be done.
So the idea of Bravely was born as my co-founder (and now husband), Rackley and I made lunch one day, daydreaming about “what would you do if you could snap your fingers and make something magically just exist?”. It wasn’t a challenge to dream up the idea of having help accessible to me anytime, anywhere.
“What if there was something in your pocket that helps you? That teaches you to understand your mental health with evidence-based scientific methods, so you can live a happier, healthier life?”
That was a very easy “yes, let’s build it”.
We racked our brains to find a name — going from Soothe to Bettermind to Wisemind — none of them quite stuck. They described part of what we were building, but didn’t carry enough heart. They failed to encapsulate the spirit of the people we’re building this for. And personally, none of them resonated with me and my battles over the years.
In embarking on this mission, we’ve spoken to psychologists, scientists, entrepreneurs, mental health advocates, and many people who have been open, brave and vulnerable in sharing their stories.
Talking to these incredible people have made us realise one thing. Everyone who found issues with their mental health, all had one thing in common: they were struggling.
And they had to brave their struggles and their pain. They had to brave a world that isn’t equipped to help them, and a society that has let them down with their ignorance. They had to either brave the stigma or brave struggling through it alone.
So as we finally arrived at the notion of “bravery”, it was familiar, yet not quite right.
‘Brave’ or ‘Bravery’ felt akin to saying that someone must be brave to successfully face their demons. It conjured up an image of someone undefeatable, riding into battle without fear. Society’s notion of “brave” isn’t the most compassionate or forgiving.
But as soon as we turned to ‘Bravely’, it clicked.
To us, Bravely was about facing the pain of having to wrestle with yourself. Whether you were having an impossible time getting out of bed, or you’re only able to focus on the next 10 seconds in the midst of a panic attack.
You might not feel it and you might not know it, but you are bravely holding on.
Doing something bravely means that no matter how big or small — even if it’s half a step, even if it’s getting out of bed to take a shower, even if it’s agreeing to a dinner party though it scares the shit out of you, even if it’s making a move to get help — means that you are doing this as bravely as you can.
The fact that you have to fight, battle, wrestle and struggle, already means that you are bravely doing so. So once we wrapped our heads around what it means to bravely endure, to bravely fight, to bravely go, or to bravely try, it felt honest and it felt right.
And that’s why we’ve named ourselves Bravely. Because that’s what we want to be.
More about Bravely
Behind Bravely is a team of passionate and determined entrepreneurs, researchers, user behaviourists, and designers — who are above all, human beings who know what it’s like to struggle with mental health and distress.
We’re currently in the early stages of building Bravely, with a open beta currently available for testing, with a public launch planned for the second half of 2021
If our mission resonates with you and you want to help, we’ve love to hear from you here (accompanied with our eternal gratitude).
Sincerely, Mel & Rackley