On Mental Health
Taryn Ward
Taryn Ward • Oct 07

On Mental Health

by Taryn Ward

Mental health is central to everything we do at Bright. From our initial inspiration, to app design, to our policy documents, concern for mental health is a core value that informs each decision we make.   

Our commitment to doing things thoughtfully, from the ground up, means that we can think about mental health as part of a holistic approach to building a better social network and a better company.    

Our commitment to doing things thoughtfully, from the ground up, means that we can think about mental health as part of a holistic approach to building a better social network and a better company.    

We spent months, before we ever even thought about building an app or a website, considering first whether, then how, we could build a social media network that not only didn’t cause harm, but had the potential to do good. Every decision we make now is grounded in those early conversations and documents, which always come back to the ideas of connection and support. This is particularly true in the context of mental health. 

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Our outward facing policies necessarily inform our inward facing policies and vice versa. In other words, the way we treat and care for each other as a team is directly tied to how we treat and care for our members. In fact, I would argue, it’s impossible to separate these approaches.   

This commitment doesn’t begin or end on World Mental Health Day, but it is a great opportunity to describe our five-layered approach.   

  1. Avoid Harm 

  2. Provide Stability and Security 

  3. Raise Awareness 

  4. Promote Understanding 

  5. Direct Support as Needed  

Avoid Harm: Put simply, and it is simple, we don’t cause harm to our members and we don’t tolerate anyone else causing harm to our members either. Abuse, harassment, scams, and misinformation are things our network is designed to keep out, but we also allow members to control their own data, who they engage with, how much they share and whom they share it with. Further, we’ve intentionally designed the app to avoid doomscrolling, hate clicks, or dopamine tricks (more on this next week). Ultimately, we hope that you never notice any of these efforts, because they should feel natural and as though they’re how social media should always have been – because they are. 

Ultimately, we hope that you never notice any of these efforts, because they should feel natural and as though they’re how social media should always have been – because they are. 

Provide Stability and Security: Similarly, our policies and expectations are clear and coherent, internally and externally, and we apply these policies fairly at all levels. We won’t ask our team, partners, or members to guess what behaviour is acceptable or not, and we won’t introduce surprise consequences.   

Raise Awareness: Public awareness of mental health issues has improved tremendously over the past decade, some places more than others, but we have a long way to go. To start, according to the WHO, mental health conditions now cause 1 in 5 years lived with disability and around 20% of the world’s children and adolescents have a mental health condition. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29 year-olds worldwide. Depression and anxiety cost an estimated $1 trillion (USD) each year

Promote Understanding: Awareness of the facts is an important first step. Applying that information to our everyday interactions requires something more. We ask each of our team members, partners, and members to take that next step with us.   

(Direct) Support as Needed: Finally, because sometimes even understanding isn’t enough, and it’s certainly no substitute for professional help, we have resources readily available to share on the network, including hotlines that provide 24/7 phone support. Internally, this commitment means providing access to mental health services as needed and providing flexible work arrangements, leave, or paid time off as appropriate.   

No single effort guarantees anyone’s wellbeing – it takes consistency and care.

No single effort guarantees anyone’s wellbeing – it takes consistency and care. Our promise is to bring both to every aspect of Bright, and to create a network built on the idea that connection and community foster a healthier life for all of us. We hope you'll join us in that important work!

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