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Colette Ellis: Making Mental Health Support Accessible to Different Cultures

Colette Ellis: Making Mental Health Support Accessible to Different Cultures


Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs. 

Welcome back! Spiffy here, your interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs working to make this world more equitable. Today I’m super excited to speak with Colette Ellis, founder of Libbie Health.

Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Colette! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing at Libbie Health?

Colette: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! Libbie Health creates tools to help people feel happy and healthy. Since we know some groups have a hard time getting mental health support, we focus on communities that face more struggles. Our Libbie app helps users fight sadness, worry, and hard memories. Libbie is a friendly, digital companion for when you need extra support. We respect different cultures because we want our users to feel comfortable getting help. We want everyone to have what they need for a good life and bright future.

Spiffy: That’s great! What motivated you to do it?

Colette: Growing up in the Bronx wasn't always easy, but learning how to take care of my mind helped me succeed. Life throws challenges, but resilience and community can help you through. I now understand how important mental wellness is for overcoming hard times. Too often, communities struggle with stress and don't have the right support. As founder of Libbie Health, I'm motivated to keep improving our solution to help more people break through to healing and define success on their own terms.

Spiffy: How would you say that your organization is working towards a more equitable world?

Colette: Libbie Health aims to make mental health care fairer. Some groups face more challenges finding help due to costs and not feeling respected. We use technology to lessen these hurdles and make care more available. Libbie understands people of different backgrounds and builds trust through personalized chats. We also focus on affordability so care isn't out of reach due to price. By creating inclusive tools, we aim to better serve those facing barriers with quality care customized to their journey.

Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organizational milestone or initiative. What impact does it make on your audience/community?

Colette: We're thrilled about our improved Libbie app! Soon, Libbie will be more animated during chats instead of just pictures. She'll move in a realistic, emotional way. In the app, Libbie will respond with expressions and do tapping exercises with you. Like a friend there to help, she'll support you through challenges in a lively, engaging manner. New animations starring Libbie will be shared on our social profiles. Her new animated avatar invites users to feel comforted by a caring virtual companion.

Spiffy: I am looking forward to it! Please share an experience when you faced failure and didn’t give up. What did you learn from it?

Colette: Running a startup isn't easy. I face setbacks like not getting into programs or losing customers. When things don't work out, I look for new ideas. What pushes me is our key issue some groups struggle more with mental health due to experiences of racism and not getting the right help. I'm passionate about helping people through tough times. It's important I take care of myself too through relaxing tasks and talking to friends in similar roles. Staying determined keeps me focused on our mission.

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Colette—it’s been an honor!

Colette Ellis is the founder of Libbie Health. For over 15 years, she's helped companies improve employee wellness. Having gained expertise as a behavioral health coach at Calm and internal human resources consultant at Willis Towers Watson, Colette understands how to make mental health support accessible and sensitive to different cultures. (Nominated by Josef Scarantino at Hubspot Ventures. First published on the Ladderworks website on January 23, 2024.)

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.

© 2024 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Sujit Kunte. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.