Starting a business in the middle of a global pandemic has a few challenges, but the current climate has Leanne Sanders believing there has never been a better time to launch her project.
With the Visual Dreaming app now in final build stages, the founder is preparing to continue her work in Indigenous mental health care with the official business launch in eight short weeks.
"Visual Dreaming is about providing holistic care to First Nations people, but it supports anyone going through mental illness and we do have some non-Indigenous users," Ms Sanders said.
"All you do is you download the app and you set up your profile with your story. It's about making sure that you don't have to go on retelling your story at every health appointment, because we've found that's a huge barrier to people seeking care."
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The idea for the app developed out of a period of significant grief in Ms Sander's own life three years ago, following the untimely death of her beloved cousin.
"I went through my own journey, I lost someone I was very close to," she said.
"My cousin committed suicide, and at that moment, I thought I had to do something to make a difference. I thought, idealistically I was going to build an app and save the world, but of course it's not that easy."
Ms Sanders soon found that her family's tragedy was painfully very common.
"I've been through this with so many families and it's a revolving door in smaller communities," she said.
"There's not a lot of services, or it's frustrating to have to keep giving out your story at each new appointment. It's frustrating and people sadly just give up.
"So I created Visual Dreaming with the purpose to give our kids something to be proud of in their culture.
"We're visual learners, it breaks down the language barriers that might exist between health professionals and Indigenous communities."
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Having now been tested on 80 young people between the age of 18 and 24, inside the app, users create a 'dream board' of measurable goals.
Similar to a social networking site, the user is invited to add other users into the journey by creating a virtual 'dream team', who will celebrate each milestone and keep goals accountable.
"I say to these kids who have started using it, 'you're journey is saving other people's lives'," Ms Sanders said.
"I'm just so proud of how far they've come. Mental health can be a lonely journey, especially at the moment when we're all isolated."
The development of the app was helped by Ms Sanders' involvement in the Charles Sturt University Entrepeneur Incubator last year.
Run by the university's Innovation Hub, the program is about to enter its seventh year with submissions for new projects open until Monday.
Owing to the COVID-19 restrictions, project officer Siobhan Howard said this year the 10 week program will be run virtually for the first time ever.
"It's always been an in-real-life event in Wagga, but now it's quite exciting that we can make it fully accessible online to people all over the regions," Ms Howard said.
"There are potentially different problems that start-ups are facing at the moment in the economic crisis, but our program has always been about confronting problems and finding solutions."
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