What is Inuka?

What is Inuka?

Inuka provides emotional support.

And we do that by combining two things.

  1. We train empathic, capable individuals to give science-based support.
  2. We connect these trained individuals (we call them Inuka Life Coaches) with people seeking support.

Effectively, we leverage technology as a device for connection and availability. By combining professional training and engaging individuals across the world, we offer both agency and empowerment in wellness. We see this as a radical new take on drawing on community for mental health improvement.

How did Inuka come to be?

Inuka means ‘arise‘​ in Kiswahili, an East-African language, and that’s exactly what we are about. We are a social enterprise with the mission to make it easier for people to find and give mental support. Our team rose from within the Phillips Innovation Hub in Kenya, after a chance meeting with associate professor and Director of the African Mental Health Research Initiative Dr. Dixon Chibanda.

Since 2016, when Chief Vison and Facilitation Robin van Dalen officially teamed up with Dr. Dixon Chibanda, Inuka has grown. In 2018 we spread our wings to become independent as a social enterprise spin-out from Phillips. Ever since, we’ve been working tirelessly at improving our product and reaching out to the world with our mission.

An Important Challenge

Mental health and wellbeing is currently one of the biggest challenges the world faces.

1 in 5 people every year suffers from mental distress to such an extent that it is affecting their health, family, and jobs. Yet only 3% of global health budgets are spent on mental health. Across Africa and India, this is even worse as mental health professionals are almost absent: 1 psychiatrist per 1 million people is a typical number.

We aim to address this by making affordable, effective and accessible support available via a digital platform.

A Friendship (Bench)

For decades, our co-founder Dr. Dixon Chibanda, has been making waves as a scientist with his unique approach to offering problem solving therapy (PST).

His initiative The Friendship Bench, –which centres on the delivery of non-clinical professionals in administering PST– proved to be highly successful. Together with Dr. Chibanda and his team, Inuka has translated the method to a digital setting – taking the steps towards making evidence-based support widely available and easily accessible.

We’re taking the steps towards making evidence-based support widely available and easily accessible.

We train personal guides on a proven method developed by our co-founder Dr. Dixon Chibanda and support and supervise them via our platform. We then connect them with people in distress, where sessions are set up and conducted via confidential chat. Together, they clarify the problems of the person, make an action plan to address it, and follow up.

Watch Dr. Chibanda talk about his initiative during a TED talk here.

What does Inuka offer?

The Inuka programme involves a step-by-step action plan.

It is created with for you and with you, in cooperation with an Inuka Life Coach. Sessions with your Life Coach are scheduled when it is convenient for you, and is conducted via a confidential chat on our app.

You sign up for 4 sessions of 50 minutes with an Inuka Life Coach of your own, and schedule your own time slots. The programme includes support in-between sessions, should you need it.

Your identity will remain anonymous to your Life Coach, and you will be able to give feedback after your sessions so we can steadily improve and provide quality assurance.

Signing up is easy.

Based on Clinical Research

The Inuka Method is based on clinical research and the use of Problem Solving Therapy (PST), administered by non-clinicians. In essence, the Inuka Method involves the community in mental health treatment by training individuals to provide effective support, grounded in psychotherapy. This is a different take on providing mental health treatment, but one that has the potential to significantly impact both our communities and those seeking help.

Though the Inuka programme is not designed to be a total replacement for mental health treatment by professionals, it is a valuable addition to nurturing and taking care of your mental wellbeing overall. The Inuka programme is also available to use on your phone. This means that you are in total control of when and where you want to conduct your sessions. In addition, the Life Coach and supervising therapist will not be made aware of your identity at any time. This lowers the threshold for seeking help considerably.

All Inuka Life Coaches are continually supervised and supported by licensed therapists, ensuring best practices and appropriate support.

Hand-picked and Professionally Trained.

All Inuka Life Coaches are hand-picked by our team, and receive full training. This results in a certification by AMREF. They are also continuously supervised and supported by licensed therapists, which ensures that you get the appropriate support. Though each person reacts differently to this type of support depending on the issues they face, we have two reasons to believe why this can work for you:

1. Its evidence-based. All Inuka Life Coaches are trained in a method grounded in Problem Solving Therapy (PST). The method has been found to be effective for a range of problems people face.

2. We tested it. For 81% of the participants in our test group, mental distress symptoms decreased by almost 42%, and in circumstances where they may need help again, 91% would ‘definitely’ come back to Inuka. Of the participants, 96% noted that they dealt with problems more effectively after Inuka.

pilot results

For more extensive information on the ins- and outs of the method, the background of our pilot research and company, you can visit the FAQ section at http://inuka.io. 

Build resilience and strength. Together.

Building the tools to overcome difficulties when they happen is key in helping you navigate the turbulences of life. By learning effective problem solving skills, you will be able to face present (and future) issues head on. Our programme is designed to address the issues you feel are the most important.

Start your journey.

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