Hugr: Building a Community around Mental Health
Scott Borys was having a tough bout of depression. As he worked through the difficulties, he started tracking sleep, activity level, diet, medication, and other symptoms through a spreadsheet to share with his doctor, which greatly improved his treatment. As a developer and partner at Territorial, a digital development company, he also started to think about how he could better connect with the support people in his life.
That’s when Borys and his business partner Daren McLean decided to create Hugr, an app for people with mental illness to communicate with important people in their lives. The tech helps people to track how they’re feeling and related lifestyle choices and will alert friends and family if there is a significant change that requires a little extra help.
“People dealing with mental illness often feel lonely and the support people in their life don’t necessarily know how to help them,” shares McLean. “Hugr is helping people to be aware of their current situation - their mood, their energy, sleep, activities, and medication so that they can track certain aspects of their life and find a problem and solution.”
The person dealing with the mental illness can go to Hugr.ca and set up a wellness contract with a support person, such as “If my anxiety is high for five days in a row, I would like for you to call me to take me for lunch and I will regularly take my medication.” As the person with mental illness tracks their symptoms, automatic alerts are sent when desired.
The team of six are connecting with “Pretty much every group of humans that deal with mental health issues - so almost all industries,” says McLean. They are in the development processes with organizations that support workers and vulnerable people including corporations, indigenous communities, youth, healthcare, government, insurance companies, farming organizations, trucking organizations, and Universities.
Currently, individuals can access the service at Hugr.ca, with the Android and iOS app launching in the fall of this year. Organizations can also contact Hugr.ca to apply the technology to the specific needs of their company and workers.
The team is developing the software in consultation with several organizations. Territorial has recently won the National Philanthropy Award for support of mental health for the work that they have done with Crocus Co-op. Hugr was also named one of the five technology products to watch in 2019 on CBC.
“We’re not going to do this alone. There is so much work to be done. We’re a tech team with lived experience who are passionate about working with organizations to make a difference in mental health,” finishes McLean.
Founders: Scott Borys, Daren McLean
Launch Date: April 2018