Mental health entrepreneur and influencer Sophie Gray first began building her social media following back in 2013 — a time she calls the “wild, wild west” of Instagram, when content creators were fewer in numbers than they are today, and it was easier to gain a following and build a platform. She grew her account quickly, sharing regular content about her workouts, meals, and career as a model, reaching half a million followers in a relatively short period of time.
As someone who had struggled with mental health issues for most of her young life, Gray had come face-to-face with self-harm and attempted suicide. Like many of us are taught to do from a young age, she shoved her feelings down, pretending she was fine and putting on a brave face for her audience and the people closest to her.
But repressing her feelings only made things worse. The pressure to look perfect for her social media following in addition to the bullying she had endured earlier in life developed into an eating disorder, driving her to engage in unhealthy behaviors.
Hitting a Breaking Point With Anxiety
Finally, Gray hit a breaking point when she experienced a severe panic attack right before boarding a plane, which led her to take a 38-hour drive home back to Alberta.
“I had continually ignored how I felt and shoved down those feelings, and I had put my body into an unhealthy space and treated it unkindly. I was in a very vulnerable place,” Gray says.
Upon returning home, Gray stepped away from her social media channels to heal and prioritize her mental health. She quickly realized that she wasn’t alone — many people were experiencing similar issues to her, and unfortunately, the resources available to help were scant.
Her Experiences Inspired the Launch of a Mental Health App
Gray began dabbling with self-help books but found many of them to be full of unrelatable jargon and advice that made her feel as if she wasn’t already a whole, complete person despite the mental health struggles she was enduring. She had tried other paths that ultimately weren’t aligned with her needs, like yoga, but she did find some solace in therapy, breathing techniques and a regular journaling practice.
Her experiences ultimately led her to create a resource of her own in hopes of helping others who were facing similar struggles. Today, DiveThru is a mental health app that helps people take charge of their own mental health through tools like a feeling tracker, interactive courses, mindfulness exercises and other helpful, tangible resources led by experienced mental health professionals.
“When I started building DiveThru, I knew I wanted to take the good parts of self-help, the parts that made you feel seen and heard and valued but combine them with appropriate channels like educational resources and the opportunity to have a professionally-driven resource and create an accessible mental health tool,” Gray explains.
Mental Health App Offers a Safe Space
The mental health app’s overarching mission is to help people understand that they’re not alone in their struggles, and that they have the power to heal themselves with the proper supports in place.
Gray ultimately hopes to offer DiveThru as a safe space where people can connect with helpful resources and equip themselves with the knowledge that will help them take charge of their personal mental health.
Pandemic Accelerated Mental Health Concerns
She believes that the pandemic accelerated the mental health concerns our society was already dealing with pre-COVID, and that it’s now more important than ever to provide people with the resources they need to overcome these challenges.
“I definitely think COVID has accelerated awareness of the problems we have societally like mental health, systemic problems like racism, diet culture, and fat phobia,” Gray says. “It’s been great that we can’t ignore it anymore. I don’t think we can ever go back to the way it was before.”
For anyone who is struggling with mental health issues, Gray recommends taking advantage of available resources, setting firm boundaries, practicing mindful social media use, and exploring tools such as therapy and medication if they’re accessible to you. To learn more about DiveThru, visit divethru.com.