MyMind is a social enterprise with the largest blended model of mental health care in Ireland. MyMind has created a unique movement for community-based mental health services that work towards giving every person in Ireland equal access to mental health support early, affordably, directly, without stigma or delay. Social Entrepreneurs Ireland has been proudly supporting MyMind for more than a decade with MyMind currently one of our Scale Partners.
We chatted with Krystian Fikert, founder of MyMind about how organisation came to be, integrating AI systems and plans for the future.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background, how you created MyMind and your journey with Social Entrepreneurs Ireland?
I moved to in Ireland in 2004 to fulfil my ambition of working for Google. While in Ireland, I continued to use my psychology training to provide mental health support to the immigrant community from a small room in a community centre in Dublin’s city centre. I quickly realised there was a huge demand for affordable and timely mental health support services in Ireland, and significant difficulties in accessing such services. MyMind was established in 2006 as a not-for-profit community-based provider of accessible and affordable mental health care. We now have centres in Dublin, Cork and Limerick, with more than 150 mental health professionals offering counselling and psychotherapy sessions in 15 languages, either online, or face-to-face. To date, MyMind has had a direct impact on over 32,000 clients. We have enjoyed a great relationship with SEI over the years and were honoured to receive awards in 2009, 2011 and 2013. An SEI Scale Partner since 2020, MyMind has benefited significantly from the support and guidance of SEI and through the provision of mentoring and resources.
You have recently been working on integrating AI into the MyMind system; why AI and what are you going to use it for?
While it’s important to state that mental health support can only ever be conducted through human interaction and understanding, we are also committed to making it as easy as possible for everyone to access the mental health support they need. So yes, we have started to use AI where we can, purely in the aim of making life easier for our clients. Currently our use of AI only exists in the form of Rick, our friendly chat bot. He’s really there to help answer some frequently asked questions and make use of information from our website, but probably his most useful ability is to cancel appointments outside office hours, which is a really important function for us, for obvious reasons. We also have plans to use some similar AI behind the scenes to support our therapists, but it’s not quite ready yet. But we are always interested in exploring technological solutions that can make our human experiences that much easier.
What words of advice would you give to any aspiring social entrepreneur?
It’s not always easy, but try to be patient. If you believe in something strongly enough, then stick with it and chances are, you will find like-minded people to support you. Don’t be afraid to back yourself and ask questions of others. The role of social enterprises in the wider society is only increasing and it is essential that we encourage entrepreneurs to fulfill their ambitions.
What are you most looking forward to in 2022 for MyMind?
Looking ahead to 2022, it has to be a chance for all of us to look forward with optimism. With further lifting of restrictions, we are delighted to see the return to face-to-face counselling sessions. In saying that, the shift to online meetings and the advancement of technological offerings has meant we have been able to reach even more people in need of mental health support services, and we look forward to growing this reach even further in 2022. We are particularly happy to once again be able to offer free sessions to those who have been most affected by Covid-19, with thanks to funding from the Department of Health. The Free Counselling Project is open to eligible applicants without referral from a GP, and should enable us to facilitate around 16,500 free therapy sessions.
Learn more about MyMind and its services-> www.mymind.org.