"I’ve learned through this experience that you have the ability to make a difference, right now. It’s about unlocking the potential that lies within everyone." - Michael Lai
A question we all face, an everyday curiosity, common yet diverse.
Many of us are judged by our “whys” daily.
To the future physician who gets asked “why” every day, to the artists who question themselves all the time, to you, who asks yourself why you dream the way you did last night.
Here are a few words from the creators of Cress Health: ambitious, bright, young men, who brought their “whys” to life.
Co-founders Michael Lai, 21, and Justin Kim, 20, are students from Long Island, who made their dreams come true alongside each other in August 2018.
Both Michael and Justin always aspired to work in the medical field. After they discovered first-hand the extent to which burnout affects healthcare professionals, they decided to utilize their joint passion in mental wellness, technology, and entrepreneurship to create Cress Health, a personalized mental wellness mobile application that delivers confidential peer support for individuals experiencing any mental health problems. “Both Justin and I were aspiring physicians and one particular area we were always interested in was mental illness and the psychiatric aspects of medicine,” said Lai.
“Cress Health is a mobile platform that allows individuals to enhance their mental wellness by creating peer-to-peer support communities of like-minded individuals based on user demographics, interests and career goals. Being able to curate all these different factors, inclusive of all religions, genders, and ages are crucial to us at Cress Health. We value the importance of community and enhancing mental wellbeing,” said Lai. It was created to serve as that shoulder to cry on, the words of appraisal, the pat on the back and the “I understand your struggles, you’re not alone” voice we all need to hear.
That was the exactly the motivation behind creating Cress Health into a positive, practical, accessible community, where users can express their worries, achievements, triumphs and failures with people who share a similar journey and experiences.
How did they come up with the name “Cress Health?” Lai and Kim actually chose the name to be representative of a real-world health remedy.
“This inspiration for our name actually comes from the watercress, a vegetable. Just as the watercress is regarded as a superfood for your body, we want our app to be almost like a superfood for your mind,” Lai said.
So, how exactly did Cress Health come to be?
“I distinctly remember, after hearing an incredibly vulnerable, heart-wrenching conversation with one of our physician mentors, that I realized that burnout was something that could affect my livelihood in the future. Since then, Michael and I have worked tirelessly to make a tangible impact on provider burnout. We believe that everyone deserves support no matter who you are, what you do, or what you identify as,” said Kim.
Michael and Justin wanted to encompass elements of our humanity into a mobile application.
To those of you who don’t have that shoulder to lean on, a community to shelter and guide you, Cress Health is the place for you.
Mental health is a subject Lai and Kim have always valued greatly. Many of us feel that we can't relate to others on a personal level because being vulnerable is a difficult process that takes time. To those of you who feel like your communities are not accessible for you to be your authentic self, Cress Health appreciates how essential anonymity is in your life. Lai and Kim implemented this safe-haven for everyone so that we can support you to be you.
“Growing up, I realized that overcoming challenges is a struggle...thinking back, I didn't have anyone to resonate with and I had no one to go to for the support that is so crucial for our personal growth and mental wellbeing,” said Lai.
Cress Health is an outlet designed to allow you to feel how you want to feel, with the support and community that you need to be yourself. Cress strives to emphasize community because they recognize how important it is for people to express themselves confidentially.
“I know this experience is not unique to myself, or my community or neighborhood, it's something that I'm sure a lot of us have experienced, being able to find those individuals that you can refer to as companions are important. The reason we built this app is to help individuals struggling with mental wellness or identity disorders get the support they need,” said Lai.
Burnout is a syndrome that inspired the creation of Cress Health - it is a long-term stress reaction marked by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a lack of sense of personal accomplishment. Burned-out doctors are more likely to leave practice, which reduces patients' access to continuity of care. The goal at Cress Health is to make sure that all healthcare professionals are mentally healthy and equipped to provide the best care possible to our communities.
We make this possible by allowing you to communicate with people that are going through the same struggles as you are.
Cress Health values your mental health. We understand and witness the struggles that ensue when your mental wellbeing is not accounted for, and we’re here to help, always.
“Our hope in this upcoming year is to ensure that every healer gets access to the healing that they deserve,” said Kim.
“At Cress, what we always say is: ‘Everyone deserves support,’ and that’s what we’re trying to accomplish.”