Koko is a platform for mental health. In fact, mental health has become an important issue in today’s world. Anxiety and depression have been prime issues of concern for a long time. However, these issues were worsened by the pandemic years. In fact, according to WHO, global anxiety and depression have increased by around 25% since the pandemic.
However, an important problem is a lack of proper mental-health service providers in most countries. In fact, in the U.S. around 25 million Americans live in areas where there are not ample mental-health service providers to meet the demand. Therefore in such a situation, the only option left for people is to look online for emotional help. In fact, a 2019 study reveals that 80% of teenagers looked for online help regarding mental health.
Therefore, in such a situation, Koko becomes an important platform. It is a platform, Rob Morris, started developing this platform to promote mental health. Read the article to know more about it.
The Origin of Koko
Koko is the brainchild of Rob Morris. In fact, Morris has a history of depression. As a student of MIT’s Media Lab, Morris struggled with coding. This made him depressed. As a result, he started to fall behind in his studies and had to take a leave of absence. However, when he returned to MIT, he was able to catch up with his studies.
This was largely due to the fact that his problem with coding had been solved by a website named Stack Overflow. On this site, coding problems got answered by strangers for free. In fact, this website made Morris think about the possibility of a similar website for mental health.
Therefore, with this view, he started developing a website for mental health in 2015. His partners Kareem Kouddous and Fraser Kelton helped him to raise the capital funding for the venture. Finally, they launched Koko as a startup. It is a platform where people can send emotional help to those who need it. They also developed an artificial intelligence named Kokobot. The Kokobot will help to identify people in crisis and will moderate the conversations on Koko. Within a short time, the platform had 2 million users.
Later Morris admitted that using the internet for mental health support was a controversial issue at that time. Therefore, it was never a sustainable business model. They were unable to grow the business and lacked revenue generation. Therefore they had to drop the venture. Morris admitted that this was very depressing as he had spent years thinking about digital health.
Airbnb, Koko and The Present
Koko was acquired by Airbnb in 2018. However, the founders were allowed to retain the name. However, in 2020, Morris and Kouddous again started thinking about Koko. They decided to relaunch it as a non-profit platform. At present when anyone searches the internet for issues related to mental health, they are shown an invitation to join Koko.
At present, the platform provides a number of services. They guide the users about the ways of using a crisis helpline. It also provides information about their fears. Moreover, it also provides mental health courses. However, the most popular feature of the platform is that it allows one to talk to a peer. Thus it helps to spread messages of hope among its users.
Apart from all these, Koko is also a secure platform to discuss mental health. In fact, the platform does not store the information of the users. Moreover, it also protects the users from malicious messages. The platform has also worked with other platforms like Tumblr, Twitch, and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Moreover, it has also collaborated with researchers at some prominent universities like Harvard and Stanford.
Therefore, Koko has turned into a great help for those who are suffering from mental issues. However, Morris suggests that healthcare providers must also take the initiative to help people with mental health, online.
He also wants to change the way the internet works in case of mental health. Morris suggested that he wishes it to work in such a way that when people will search about mental health they will be redirected to sites like Koko.
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