JEDDAH: Mental health has a huge effect on quality of life, so taking steps to care for and improve it can help us to live our lives to the full. It can make it easier, for example, to build healthier relationships, make better life choices, maintain our physical health, cope better with life’s natural ups and downs, and discover and reach our full potential.
YouPositive is an online platform, founded in Jeddah in March 2017, that focuses on mental well-being and self-development. Its website features a quote from Roman Price, founder of LifePulp, the motivational and inspirational social network, in which he says: “If you’re searching for that one person who will change your life … take a look in the mirror.” This perfectly illustrates the YouPositive mission, which is to encourage people to find ways to become better versions of themselves.
This project, aimed primarily at people between the ages of 18 and 50, offers online and offline life coaching and psychological counseling from certified and licensed professionals.
When she graduated with a degree in finance, YouPositive founder and CEO Zahra Al-Mohanna did not imagine she would eventually end up working in a field related to psychology.
“I was working on a completely different business plan before shifting to YouPositive,” said the 32-year-old.
“One day I was sitting in the living room with my mother and I received a call from one of my closest friends. Her personality is very similar to many people around us, that of a lost person who cannot make a decision related to their personal emotional life and status,” she said.
“My friend had been suffering from a serious problem for two years and I found myself involved in the matter even though I had nothing to do with it. She was suffering from her relationship with her family and herself and could not find the right help. She went to a psychiatrist who gave her medicines though she did not need them; she wasn’t ill, she just needed help. That made her depressed and she was asking herself, ‘Am I I really ill?’
“She was talking for two full hours, nonstop. I was fed up, and in the middle of the conversation I asked myself, why when we feel upset or have a problem do we not know where to go? I interrupted her and said, ‘You know what, this is a great business idea.’ When I got off the phone with her, I went to my laptop and started a totally new business plan.”
Al-Mohanna found and met experts in the field, refining her ideas until she came up with YouPositive, a modern way to provide self-development assistance and emotional support in an easy and comfortable way. It aspires to help people become the best version of themselves, thus creating a healthier society and a better tomorrow for everyone.
“YouPositive is a message,” she said. “I wanted people to get my message from the name, directly. I want people to understand that the way they live, and the way they control their thinking is in their hands. Positivity is a choice. We want to deliver a message of self-acceptance of the lives we’re living, and look at the positive side of it and understand that we also need the negative because it pushes us to move forward.”
YouPositive, she said, was created to answer the question that comes to mind when people feel stuck or trapped and are wondering where they should go, who should they talk to, and how?
“I wanted a person to be with me 24 hours a day in my bucket,” said Al-Mohanna. “When I feel stuck and I need someone to pull me out of this situation, I want him or her to be available to talk to me immediately.”
YouPositive offers life coaching and psychological counseling sessions online or through video and voice calls, depending on the client’s preference. In addition there are offline face-to-face sessions, in a group or one-to-one. They cover four areas: the self, parenting and childhood, career and income, and relationships.
A life coach can help people attain their goals, both personal and professional. A counseling psychologist listens to a patient’s problems and offers advice on coping with them.
The online coaching sessions are designed to offer clients a flexible appointment from the comfort of their own home or place of work. Privacy is assured and clients can opt to remain anonymous.
In addition, YouPositive has recently started organizing public events to raise awareness of its work and the ideas behind the project.
Zahraa Al-Mohanna, 32, founder and CEO of YouPositive. Photo via Arab News
“We discovered that people need to interact with you directly to trust you, because our business is built upon people’s trust in us — without it they wouldn’t take a risk using our services since our field of activity is so sensitive,” said Al-Mohanna. “We started during Ramadan to test peoples’ interaction and spread awareness. People do not know what life coaching and counseling means; they usually think it’s therapy but it is not. We discovered that we began to gain trust and receive more clients.”
YouPositive’s activities include support groups, group counseling and life coaching. They cover several topics, including self-love, self-development, self-awareness, education and planning.
“I think what YouPositive is doing is excellent and so helpful,” said Abdulkhaliq Hanifi, from Madinah, who took part in one of the public events. “I attended a support-group event about loss and grief; it was really helpful. I also took seven minutes of free sessions and it was a great experience.
“I believe they should have more public events to raise awareness of the importance of psychological health, because we lack that awareness in our society.”
Al-Mohanna hopes that YouPositive will be available throughout Saudi Arabia within three years, and across the Gulf region within five years.
“We want to be ... an easy-access service that can help people overcome any crisis in their lives, whether related to the self, relationships, planning, business or anything else,” she said.
“We created YouPositive to suit our culture, which is a unique culture. We would like to be in the whole Middle East and North Africa region, and worldwide, in the near future, but we are focused for now on Saudi Arabia — our community is the main reason that we created YouPositive,” according to Al-Mohanna.