in the spotlight
The platform for showcasing inspirational ideas, profiles and personalities!
Today’s guest In The Spotlight is Chika Anajemba. Chika works as a financial services program manager for a large international investment bank. She is also a writer, singer and public speaker. Urenna Kiwanuka caught up with Chika to talk about a new project she is working on, called ‘Marbl Mental Health’.
ITS: Chika, welcome to ‘In The spotlight’! Please tell us a bit about yourself.
Chika: I'm a daughter of the King, saved by God's precious grace and mercy. I come from a family of 6 siblings and my twin and I are the last of the bunch. I have been working in the financial services industry for the last 12 years. I have a bachelor's degree in Computer Science and a masters in Information Systems. My all time favourite hobby is traveling and my family have nicknamed me 'ajala' a Yoruba name (native language in Nigeria) used to describe a traveller. I would love to visit most countries in the world given the opportunity and I have currently visited 30 countries in the last 14 years.
ITS: So, what exactly is Marbl?
Chika: Marbl is the name of a mental solution (in the form of an app) I have been working on for the past three and half years. Marbl seeks to provide people suffering from mental health conditions, with online therapy access to mental health care professionals on a global scale. Marbl will address the issues of a lack of access to mental health care professionals particularly in developing countries, by enabling proxy agreements which will allow licenced professionals in a jurisdiction or country to provide counselling services to a user in a different jurisdiction or country.
ITS: What is the story behind Marbl and what led you to start an online therapy service?
Chika: Marbl was birthed from a season of uncertainty and personal struggles in my own life in 2017. I was dealing with health issues, a toxic and very stressful time in my life and as a result, I was signed off work because I was at risk of a breakdown. I was very fortunate during that time to have access to counselling which helped me overcome the personal struggles I was dealing with. About the same time all of this was happening, my sister had informed me about this global health challenge organised by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in America. The challenge was to submit a solution to the growing problem of depression globally, and successful candidates would get to pitch their ideas at the United Nations general assembly. This caught my interest, as my own personal experience had opened up my eyes to the struggles of so many people and the realisation that a mental health issue can happen to anyone regardless of sex, religion, class, social status or race.
To cut a long story short, whilst my idea didn't make it to the final stage, I was resolved to keep developing the idea and create opportunities for people in the developing world to have the same level of care I was fortunate to have had here in the UK. This is how Marbl came about.
ITS: Why is Mental health something you are so passionate about?
Chika: A healthy mind is a healthy life. Our ability to function in society and be who we are called to be by our Father stems from having a sound mind. We are spirit, soul and body and all are interconnected and need to work effectively together if we are to fulfil our God given purpose. For this to happen, caring for our mental health and psychological wellbeing is imperative.
ITS: Who can benefit from this service? (Is it for everybody, or only for those with known or diagnosed mental health issues)?
Chika: Our goal is to make Marbl available for everyone who needs it, regardless of whether they've been diagnosed with a mental health issue or not. Contrary to popular belief, counselling isn't only reserved for people with problems. Seeking counselling is a fundamental part of our personal growth and development in all areas of our life. There are many different types of professional counsellors or therapists with expertise in various areas including marriage, children, anxiety and stress, depression and other mental health issues. Whilst Marbl will initially target the workforce group, it will ultimately be available for anyone who wishes to use it.
ITS: Where are you at with the development of the service- how soon will it become available for people to access?
Chika: We are currently in the minimum viable product (MVP) development phase of the solution. We hope to be able to release our MVP in the next couple of months for users to start using it. There are many more stages after this to come but we are excited at the potential of the product to really help those who need it.
ITS: In the meantime, where can people connect with you or go for more information?
ITS: Finally, what would you say are your top 3 mental health tips that we can all easily incorporate into our lives?
First would be gratitude - giving thanks has been scientifically proven to provide many great benefits including:
Strengthening our immune system
Reducing depression and anxiety and
Improving our quality of sleep
Secondly, respecting our emotions and allowing ourselves room to feel and express our emotions in a healthy manner.
Lastly but certainly not the least important would be being compassionate to ourselves at all times. We are usually our own worst critics but it does more harm than good to us. Showing compassion to ourselves in the same way we would to a friend going through a difficult time, allows us to emotionally heal and move forward without getting stuck in negative, toxic cycle of emotions that keep us trapped.