how are you? – high-quality mental health information and accessible psychological help in Croatia
It was March 2020, and the COVID-19 pandemic was taking over the world, one country at a time. While the whole world tried to stop the disease using every way possible, research already showed great mental health struggles on a global level. Croatia tried to prepare for the pandemic, but we couldn't prepare for a series of earthquakes that hit the country, creating a state of chaos, fear, and trauma for our citizens. And, in the midst of all that – kako si?, meaning how are you?, was born.
how are you? team, drawn by their teammates – psychology students and illustrators. Credit: kakosi.hr
What is how are you?
how are you? is an online platform created with the purpose of providing psychological support to a wider population during the COVID-19 pandemic and earthquakes in Croatia. It was initiated by 18 psychology students under the supervision of Prof. Nataša Jokić-Begić, PhD, and today it is led by psychologists and psychology students.
Being aware of the possible consequences of the pandemic and natural disasters on mental health, as well as the spread of (dis)information via modern media and experiencing that uneasiness, fear and concerns as well, students decided to provide the necessary psychological help and support to a wide audience in the ongoing crisis situation. how are you? was created as a place of high-quality, verified and useful psychology, based on scientific evidence and literature, but written with special care so it can be easily understood and relevant, with an emphasis on concrete and practical advice for preserving mental health.
how are you? usually talks about all relevant topics related to adult and childrens' mental health. These are illustrations for the article about divorce and its effect on children and for the article about the mental health of teenagers. Credit: kakosi.hr
By trying to be accessible to every age group, its content takes the form of articles on the website with accompanying original illustrations created by their own team, social media posts, infographics, animations about useful techniques and series of webinars.
how are you? created an animation that guides the followers' breathing in order to calm down the anxiety symptoms. It reads, respectively: "breathe in", "hold", and "breathe out". Credit: kakosi.hr
how are you? counselling services
Free e-mail counselling
how are you? provides free, personalised and accessible psychological help through email-based counselling – for everyone, including anonymous inquiries. Within three days after sending an inquiry, clients receive a detailed personalised answer written by a volunteer, containing practical advice and support, guided by counselling principles. Each answer undergoes a detailed review by senior counsellors and supervisors before it is sent out. The communication continues for as long as the client feels the need to talk.
An illustration for the article about body image. Credit: kakosi.hr
In a little bit more than one year, how are you? has sent more than 400 counselling e-mails, which means that on average, one person sought help almost every single day from the day how are you? was up and running.
The greater success of the how are you? platform is that in only 15 months they managed to open in-person counselling centre. The counselling centre offers a counselling service intended primarily for young people who experience anxiety or depression symptoms. They also offer learning assistance for all ages - elementary, high school and college students. The services are provided by an experienced CBT psychotherapist and enthusiastic graduate psychologists under the supervision of an experienced mentor.
Since how are you? recognises how difficult it is to seek help, they continuously advocate for the destigmatisation of mental health issues and encourage their readers to contact mental health professionals. On their social media platforms, they regularly start open conversations about mental health and are not afraid to speak about taboo subjects. They strive to create a safe, supportive and educational atmosphere and actively encourage their audience to communicate with them and each other.
how are you? wants to start an open conversation about mental health and mental health issues, inspiring people to share their experiences in order to seek and get support. This is a social media post inviting their followers to express how they are feeling by using emojis.
In the last 15 months, the how are you? team has created more than 120 psychoeducational articles, 500 social media posts and 2 series of educational podcast and videos, and their five open-access webinars were attended or rewatched by more than 17 000 people. The quality of their work is recognized by more than 13000 social media followers, and overall satisfaction with their services can be seen through overwhelmingly positive feedback from their users.
An illustration for the article about bipolar disorder. Credit: kakosi.hr
Enriching the student experience
The students involved in how are you? activities continuously build their knowledge and skills via internal training in e-counselling, social media management or writing. They collaborate with external lecturers, such as clinical psychology doctoral students, to get new information and to learn different practices in the treatment of certain type of disorders. These training sessions are essential in providing their clients with the best quality service, along with teaching the team valuable expertise in the field. [BO10]
They all agree how much practical and interpersonal knowledge they have gained after a year of working on the how are you? platform:
"I believe that how are you? is a great opportunity to learn about what people really need
in the current pandemic situation (which is equally unknown to all of us). Furthermore, I think that for the first time, each student has the opportunity to build themselves additionally and independently as an expert - the more time and effort we invest, the more new personal and professional knowledge we gain. We not only see what suits us in our work or what part of our psychological work is more important to us, but we also learn about our approach to people, about our current professional limits and capacities. It is a very fulfilling, dynamic and valuable experience."
- Desa, e-counselling coordinator
An illustration for the article about advantages and disadvantages of the self-help literature. Credit: kakosi.hr
"I learned that it's okay to admit you're good at something and make suggestions for how other team members should improve their work (they usually respond with gratefulness, not annoyance). I also learned that it's much easier to handle stress when you have an awesome team supporting you and looking out for you."
- Tina, coordinator of production of psychoeducational content
In short, how are you? is a passion project of young and ambitious people, that with its psychoeducational content and psychological counselling strives to improve the mental health and quality of life of its users, reduce the stigmatization of mental disorders and popularize psychology in society. how are you? is evolving day-by-day into something more established, creating new ways to offer support to the community. With their enthusiasm, optimism, knowledge and skills, they strive to create an accessible and safe environment for all those who feel they need support. Their goal is to educate and empower the public and increase its competencies to cope with everyday challenges, both during the pandemic and after it.
It's worth asking how are you? since they are there to help you to discover the answers together.
For more information on how are you?, feel free to check out their:
🌐 Website: kakosi.hr
👥 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kakosi.hr/
🌅 Instagram: @kakosi.hr