Interview with George Eleftheriou, CEO & Co-Founder of Sentio Solutions

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What is Feel and how does it work?

Sentio Solutions is developing digital biomarkers and therapeutics to change the way we diagnose, monitor, and care for mental health. Our first product, Feel is an emotion-sensing wristband and an app that provides real-time monitoring and personalized interventions, for people that suffer from anxiety and depression.

Powered by Feel’s technology, Sentio Solutions is offering a 4-month Augmented Mental Health program targeted to Self-Insured Employers and introduced in Health Plans. Our Augmented Mental Health program combines our proprietary emotion recognition technology with evidence-based techniques from the fields of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness, Positive psychology . In particular, Augmented Mental Health consists of 4 components:

  • Feel emotion sensor (wristband), that provides continuous tracking of users’ emotional
  • Feel mental health advisor (mobile app), that utilizes data from Feel wristband to provide real-time support and intervention. It contains multiple features for optimizing and improving mental health. These include a mood diary, cognitive and behavioral exercises and activities which are tailored to the user.
  • Online educational material outlining the essence of the applied Evidence-Based Techniques. It introduces the tools and exercises within the program and provides tutorials on how to apply them.
  • Brief weekly check-in sessions with a CBT coach using video call. The coach answers questions, ensures that the tools and exercises in the program are applied correctly and utilizes the data from Feel emotion sensing wristband to personalize the program even more and provide additional support.

What are your plans for Feel?

At the moment, we are running multiple research studies and we are about to start our commercial deployments in the US and Europe. By September 2019, we will offer our Augmented Mental Health Program to Health Plans, Life & Disability Insurance, and Self-Insured Employers and eventually, in a few years time, it will be available to the consumers.

How did you come up  with this idea?

When Haris and I started our startup journey a few years ago, we had both recently struggled with our Mental Health. I was recovering from a depressive burnout after overworking myself, and he was having panic attacks out of the blue. Both of us decided to start psychotherapy and quickly realized that psychotherapy although extremely helpful, and probably the best investment we’ve made in our lives was happening in an outdated way and needed to be modernized.

We also realized that we are not alone in this. Mental health disorders are on the rise. The numbers speak for themselves. According to the World Health Organization, close to half a billion people globally suffer from some sort of mental health illness. One in five people in the US today is dealing with an illness that impacts his/her mental state. To put it in context, this statistic outnumbers the entire population of California. Today depression is affecting 300 million people worldwide. What’s worse is that the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that by 2030, depression is expected to be the leading cause of disease burden globally.

While mental health disorders are on the rise, so is the demand for mental health care services. But, the current healthcare system can not keep up. Mental health disorders cost $467 billion annually to the US economy. On top of that, behavioral health issues are a key predictor of high costs. Among the population suffering from chronic disease, those with a mental illness cost between 2 to 3 times more than those without. Care providers have not yet adequately responded to the burden of mental health disorders while poor quality of care continues to be a problem for many patients who receive treatment.

Do you believe entrepreneurs are more prompt to face mental health issues? If yes, why?

Yes, entrepreneurs are more likely to face mental health issues and the reasons are very easy to identify.

First of all, the entrepreneur’s life is very stressful. You take no holidays, and if you do, you may end up working a little because there’s always a fire to be put out. Most of the leaders behind these companies experience a constant state of anxiety, extremely high expectations, long hours and reduced time for their mental and physical well-being. The larger the gap between the reality and the expectations an entrepreneur has, the higher their level of stress. The desire to do whatever it takes to succeed combined with having to project a confident image to investors, customers and employees make it especially difficult for individuals to discuss their struggles.

Also, entrepreneurs feel like they are their companies and for this reason, they are afraid about their companies’ failure which will lead to their personal failure. In other words, entrepreneurs blur the line between themselves and their companies in such a way that company failures are often felt like personal. Losing a customer contract or receiving a “no” from an investor can feel like a deeply personal rejection.

What can entrepreneurs do to take care of their mental health?

I highly recommend meditation as it helped me a lot to deal with my depressive burnout. Focusing your mind and zoning out of everything else around you, can make you feel calm as well as help with stress, anxiety, and anger.

Of course, psychotherapy is one of the best ways to deal with anxiety or depression as sometimes you just need to get it out. By discussing with your psychotherapist what is making you so stressed can often make you understand the other side of the story and can help you unwind.

Also, as an entrepreneur, you should always think of the purpose and the impact on the world. Finding my purpose in life helped me continue to have faith in myself. When I become distracted, this reminds me of what’s important.

The team and personal environment have a huge impact on an entrepreneur’s mental health. Emotional support can be just as important as financial support. The stresses that come along with building and growing a business can’t always be solved with money. Moreover, having a supportive team encourages you to continue and think that you are not alone in this as other people share the same vision with you and work towards making it happen.

Remember to always ask yourself. How do you Feel?

Feel website: https://www.myfeel.co/
Feel blog: https://medium.com/feel-the-blog
Feel on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Feelwristband/
Feel on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/feel_emotion_sensor/