What is Grounded?
Grounded is an app designed exclusively for young people (18-39 y/o) living with chronic pain, illness, disabilities and mental health conditions. As a consolidated digital platform with 24/7 accessibility, it's aim is to give young people a safe space to access the tools and resources that can enable them to take back control of their lives and ensure they have adequate levels of information and support at any and all points throughout their journey. Applicable Safeguarding measures and Moderators will be in place where applicable to ensure all users are safe and comfortable at all times.
We are Crowdfunding because even with our own time and monetary investment thus far into the project, it’s not enough to get Grounded over the finish line to produce the initial app. App creation, particularly with custom code as Grounded’s Chat requires, is expensive, but have utilised smart cost savings solutions and ironed out our spec over several months with our App Developer - we just need the last push to fully fund its development.
We are asking for help and support to be able to create something with meaning and value to exact positive social change. Grounded‘s core focus is the user, not profit, and our passion for creating it is what drives us forward. We have put our heart and soul into this for so long, and been involved knee-deep every step of the way. You may not know us to believe in us personally, but we are hoping you can believe in what we are trying to create and why.
Above and below are our Grounded ambassadors, who represent the four corners of Grounded's concept: Nikki (chronic pain), Matt (mental health), Aaron (chronic illness) and Grace (disability). You can find out more about them and their stories on our dedicated Instagram page @grounded_app
Why is this app needed?
Inadequate support and resources can have a detrimental and debilitating impact on both the mental health and physical wellbeing of teens and young adults with these conditions. Whilst diagnosis of chronic pain and illness is more common in later life (with 54% of over 60's vs 14% of under 34's suffering), diagnosis before adulthood is increasing. There remains a stigmatisation surrounding young people and pain that is both harmful and deep-seated into societal perceptions, with twice as many young people reporting depression and anxiety and enduring a lower quality of life due to the disruptive nature of their chronic illness compared to their healthy peers.
The core issue surrounds the lack of support catered specifically to young people with chronic conditions, where wait lists for therapies and testing are growing and NHS resources are strained. Currently existing support groups or sites do not specifically cater to a younger age group of chronic pain sufferers, and are often overrun with an older demographic (at "typical" diagnosis age) or the parents of young people seeking answers on their behalf. This prevents individuals from accessing age-specific information, and connecting with others in their own age bracket who understand how their needs and emotions differ when diagnosed in earlier life.
The app is not designed to be an alternative to proper diagnosis and treatment, but rather a tool of support that can be used at any point pre-, during or post-diagnosis for additional information, support and help when young people need it the most and/or cannot access it through regular channels.
Why do I want to create this?
As a young person with multiple chronic conditions, I have frequently endured comments driven by the notion that due to my age, my understanding of pain is minimal and the likelihood that it deeply impacts my life is unfathomable. In my personal experience, I have often had to wait several months between appointments, given no recommendations of help or resources to access to better understand my conditions in the meantime, or even after I received my diagnoses. Having spoken with other young adults with similar conditions, both physical and mental, it is clear to me that I am not alone in my experience and something needs to be done to provide better support and break this stigma.
A consolidated resource is desperately needed, created by a young person specifically designed for young people, that empowers them to share their experiences without fear of stigmatisation or judgement. If aided in finding others who understand their struggles via the app, young people can form unified support networks within a safe environment so nobody ever has to struggle alone again. With increased support and awareness of what is happening to them and why, it is hoped that the app can contribute somewhat to improving overall quality of life.
What will the app include?
- Information & Resource Library
The app will house an Information & Resource Library, where users can learn about their conditions via an extensive variety of resources, including medical journals and articles, with potential for videos and podcasts also. Users may also explore a range of links to online therapy and meditation resources for additional support if they need it.
Articles and blog posts written by young people with chronic conditions will also be featured to open up discussion. These articles will explore key topics of interest, such as medication and equipment, how to broach chronic pain with doctors and 'We Try' alternative pain management methods, such as Art Therapy and Acupuncture.
In future updates, it's desired that members will be able to submit their own articles for posting as part of a 'Spotlight Member Story' section, where users will have a platform to share their personal stories and detail how they overcome the challenges of day-to-day life in the hope it may inspire and help others in similar circumstances.
The key feature of the app is Grounded Chat, where users can connect with one another to build a mutual support network and feel empowered to share their stories with other people who understand their experiences in a judgment-free zone. Users will be able to generate their 'ideal conversational match' via a custom algorithm that factors in their age, conditions and personal interests, and open a gateway for conversation that doesn't centre wholly around their diagnoses. Users will be able to chat in app with ease and will be fully safeguarded with the option to exit and report chats should they so wish.
- Interactive FAQ
In addition to Grounded Chat, users will be able to find members with common interests and conditions via an Interactive FAQ. This will be composed of various forums, split into 'medical' and 'common interest' sections, that users can join and explore dependant on what they want to know or discuss. Users can post and answer questions to receive feedback, recommendations and help one another based on their personal experiences. The FAQ acts as a safe space to ask the questions that users may normally struggle to broach, or find the answers to elsewhere.
- Accessibility Features
The app will be created to be as inclusive and accommodating as possible for all conditions and disabilities. Accessibility features to aid users with certain conditions, including Dark Mode and Text to Speech, will be integrated into the app, in addition to language and currency conversion. Users will have basic profiles with minimal personal information (first name, age and country of origin) so every user can feel comfortable and safe and only share the information that they wish to.
- Future Developments
After the initial development phase and rollout, Grounded will keep growing and evolving to become the extensive resource that young people truly deserve, integrating additional elements that can assist young people with chronic conditions in their day-to-day life.
Symptom trackers and medication and equipment change reminders are all in the works, as well as discounts on activities and therapies that have the potential to alleviate pain (Art Therapy, Holistic therapies, exercise classes etc) being considered. The app will also welcome recommendations from users on what features they want to see to make Grounded as relevant and useful for them as possible to ensure the user's needs are always at the heart of everything we do.
How will the app be sustained?
Access to the Information & Resource Library will be free and always will be - we won't ever deny users the right to access key information. Exclusive features, including Grounded Chat and it's custom algorithm, articles/blog posts and the Interactive FAQ will be accessible on a subscription basis for £2 per month, where 25% of each subscription will be donated to charities that directly tie in with Grounded's cause and user base. The charities we support will be detailed in-app, so users can learn more about the incredible work that they do and why they were chosen by us. The remaining monies will be reinvested into the platform for development and maintenance.
Why should you choose to support Grounded?
Grounded is unique as a consolidated platform that encompasses everything that young people with chronic conditions need to navigate their journey and diagnoses long term - information, education, and conversation. These are currently missing, both individually and combined, and are desperately needed for young people to not feel alone, forgotten, or misunderstood as they learn to live a "new normal".
I am passionate about this venture because I believe it can make a lasting difference to both the wellbeing and quality of life of so many young people living with chronic conditions. If given a platform specifically designed for them, created by somebody who wholly understands the daily challenges they face, young people can be educated on what is happening to them, be empowered to speak up and find mutual support, and be encouraged to explore information and resources that can help them make informed decisions around their life going forwards.
As a resource I never had that I wish I did, it can show young people that their life is still worth living and is not defined or controlled by their pain. Any contribution, no matter how small, gets us one step closer to truly making a difference.