The Human Centered Design Podcast with Gerry Scullion

Charlotte Fountaine ‘Service Designing a stigma-free and relevant mental health support to empower the LGBTQIA+ community to lead happier, healthier lives’

John Carter
March 14, 2023
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Charlotte Fountaine ‘Service Designing a stigma-free and relevant mental health support to empower the LGBTQIA+ community to lead happier, healthier lives’

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Episode shownotes

In this episode I caught up with Charlotte Fontaine, an incredible service designer in the UK.

We speak about Kalda, a service that has really opened my eyes through my own naivety and in exposure to the needs of people within the LGBTQIA+ community.

We chat about the nuances that persist for people from within the community to access therapy, and how Kalda offers a community led service that includes connecting people to therapists who can better relate to the needs from within the LGBTQIA+ community.

I was quite nervous speaking about this topic, and I bring this up in the conversation, why I was feeling this.

How I personally can continue on my learning journey to become more aware and become a much better ally to the community - hopefully my vulnerability can help others who may feel the same, build on this and have conversations to help grow and support the community better.


Link for Kalda app:

Link for Stonewall:

Connect with Charlotte:

Other useful links

Episode Transcript

This transcript was created using the awesome, Descript. It may contain minor errors.
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[00:00:00] Charlotte Fountaine: I think there are some mental health challenges that you might face as a queer person that a heterosexual therapist or a cisgender therapist just might not have come across. So it's not so much like it's deliberately not being taught. I think it's so helpful and affirming to come into contact. Other people who are queer and kind of seek peer support type of resources.

[00:00:26] Charlotte Fountaine: And it's also so helpful to receive the right gender and sexuality affirming care from a therapist. So for instance, one of the video therapy courses that we have on the Calder app is managing gender dysphoria. And that's developed by a trans therapist who's actually been through that and, and has struggled with that.

[00:00:43] Charlotte Fountaine: The. So that's a very kind of specific thing that people face. It's quite difficult to Google. It's quite difficult to find like trusted resources. There is stuff out there about it, but to get it straight from a trans therapist who's really been through it, I think is really [00:01:00] valuable. So it's not so much that a heterosexual cisgender therapist can't speak to that at all.

[00:01:10] Gerry Scullion: Hello and welcome to this is eight cd. My name is Jerry Scullion and I'm a designer educator, and the host of this is eight CD based on the wonderful city of Dublin, Ireland. Now our goal here is to have conversations that inspire and help move the dial forward for organizations to become more human-centered in their approach to solving complex business and societal problems.

[00:01:28] Gerry Scullion: Now, for subscribers on our podcast, on the newsletter, you will have read recently that we are getting closer and closer to our, our massive milestone on the podcast, and that is our millionth download. We're currently in Iran, 860,000. I wanted to give a huge shout out to everyone who has messaged us recently to congratulate us.

[00:01:45] Gerry Scullion: Thank you so much. One thing you can do is subscribe to the podcast by hitting that subscriber follow button. Wherever you're listening to the podcast, it'll mean you can stay in touch. You can get notified when an episode drops. Now, in this episode, I caught up with Charlotte Fontaine. An absolutely [00:02:00] incredible service designer.

[00:02:01] Gerry Scullion: Okay, we speak about calk a service, which really honestly has opened my eyes through my own naivety and in exposure to the needs of people within the l BT Q I a plus community. We chat about the nuances that persist for people within that community to access therapy and how Cala offers a community-led service that includes connecting people with therapists who can better relate to the needs from people within the L LGBTQ IA plus community.

[00:02:30] Gerry Scullion: Listen, I was quite nervous speaking about this topic when I bring this very fact up in the conversation of why I was feeling. How I personally can continue my own learning journey to become more aware and become a much better ally to the community. Hopefully my vulnerability can help others who may feel the same and build on this and have conversations to help grow and support the community better.

[00:02:53] Gerry Scullion: Now, if you like what we're doing at this estate city, you can really help this out by leaving review wherever you listen to this podcast. [00:03:00] That only takes a couple of. Or if you want to go home better, you can become a patron where you can get an ad-free stream of the podcast for as little as one year, 66 per month.

[00:03:08] Gerry Scullion: Folks, it really helps me out. It helps the podcast out and helps us keep the lights on, and literally all the money goes towards editing, hosting, and maintaining our website, which is a repository of human-centered design goodness, with well over 250 episodes. Now let's jump straight in. Charlotte, a very warm welcome to, this is a cd.

[00:03:26] Gerry Scullion: How's it going? Hey,

[00:03:27] Charlotte Fountaine: how's it going? Yeah, thanks for having me on the.

[00:03:30] Gerry Scullion: No worries, no worries. Maybe we'll start off, I usually start off with one question that um, most people will know, but for our listeners, maybe start off, tell 'em a little bit about yourself, where you're from and what

[00:03:43] Charlotte Fountaine: you do. My name's Charlotte.

[00:03:45] Charlotte Fountaine: My pronouns are she and her. I'm based in East London and I'm the co-founder of Kaldor, the L G B LGBTQ Qia Plus Mental Wellbeing app, and when I'm not working on that, I'm also a freelance service.

[00:03:57] Gerry Scullion: Very cool. Okay, [00:04:00] so the bit we connected on is Kda. You mentioned it there. Um, maybe, we'll, we'll talk a little bit more about that and, you know, how you came about, you know, the, the, the, the actual problem that you saw firsthand and through research, um, on this, this new mental, was it you say, I'm gonna start that one again.

[00:04:21] Gerry Scullion: It is a mental. App, isn't it? It's a dedicated mental health app. Yes. Yes. Alright. Okay, so maybe let's talk a little bit more in Cal. Okay. Because it's a mental health app and we wanna try and understand, you know, your experience and how this all came about. So, How, tell me a little bit more of the background

[00:04:40] Charlotte Fountaine: of it.

[00:04:41] Charlotte Fountaine: Yes. Um, so Calder started because, um, three of us got together three co-founders, Daniel bbi, Aldi, and myself. And, um, we were doing a lot of research around L G B T mental health. Because we were finding that when it [00:05:00] came to finding therapists who understood our lived experience. So for me, I've struggled with anxiety and I'm also bisexual and I haven't found a therapist who's able to kind of speak to that.

[00:05:10] Charlotte Fountaine: So, um, with our friends having kind of similar experiences and knowing that kind of the process of, um, realizing that you are queer, coming out, speaking to people, starting to like pursue those first relationships, that whole kind of, Which can, you know, take years for some people and like days for others, um, that process can be really stressful and really alienating.

[00:05:35] Charlotte Fountaine: Um, so we wanted to create something where people could actually receive gender and sexuality, affirming support in a way that was like private on their phones. Um, and actually kind of empower people that way to get the gender and sexuality affirming support that they need.

[00:05:53] Gerry Scullion: Why do you think there is such a gap there in being able to find therapists with this level of [00:06:00] experience that can provide the support and service to the people who need it?

[00:06:04] Gerry Scullion: What's, what's happening there?

[00:06:05] Charlotte Fountaine: Yeah. Our discovery research kind of uncovered maybe. Sort of three blockers to, um, getting the right L G B T friendly mental health support. One of them is the stigma that we face as a community in general, which means that we are more likely to struggle with our mental health.

[00:06:26] Charlotte Fountaine: So, um, people in the L G B T community are more likely than the general population to struggle with things like anxiety and depression. So, Issue is just the, the demand is very high. And then the second is the supply is low. So being an L G B T friendly therapist is kind of like a specialism, and therefore it can be a bit more expensive and it could be harder to find, um, a therapist.

[00:06:49] Charlotte Fountaine: And I guess the other is, um, in terms of in the, here in the uk, it's difficult to, for the NHS to [00:07:00] provide like minority specific mental. Support. So people in any minority group are struggling with their mental health more than others because they're in a minority group and because they experience stigma and discrimination, and then it's difficult to get the right mental health support.

[00:07:17] Charlotte Fountaine: Hmm.

[00:07:18] Gerry Scullion: It's How big is the community in the UK at the moment? Um, that, you know, the, the, if you want the target o audience size for, um, or how big is the community generally? That's called is, is aiming.

[00:07:33] Charlotte Fountaine: Yes. Um, so the census data's just come out and I just don't have it to hand, so I can't quote it, but, um, . But I think it's big.

[00:07:43] Charlotte Fountaine: I think it's growing. I think so many more people in the younger generation are feeling more able to come out as trans or as queer or whatever, um, than say in our parents' generation. And I think that's really liberating. Um, in [00:08:00] some ways and then in other ways it can be really difficult cuz they're coming out in a world that's still very heteronormative.

[00:08:06] Charlotte Fountaine: Um, so I do think that. The kind of L G B T and queer population's definitely growing.

[00:08:11] Gerry Scullion: Yeah, it's, it, it's funny, like I'm, as I was saying to you before, I'm in my mid forties and I grew up in a primarily Catholic background. Catholic, Catholic household, so, I'm still learning. Okay. And it, it's taken me an, an awful long time to be vulnerable enough with the community to be able to say that, uh, you know, I I, I may put a foot wrong here, here and there in this conversation when I'm talking about some of this stuff, but I've got a lot of friends who identify as trans, uh, and I'm learning all the time.

[00:08:44] Gerry Scullion: Okay. So this is a topic that really interests me. Okay. Because there's large gaps in my back. Primarily, but due to my forming as a teenager and I, I'm trying to understand a lot more about how we [00:09:00] as designers in the design community can support people. Some of this stuff may come as a surprise to people, that there's actually a lack of services in a Western world, imagine as well to support people who need it.

[00:09:13] Gerry Scullion: Um, so how far back do you. The problem goes, does it go back to psycho or psychology in university like, and academia in terms of how they're actually creating and, and training, um, psychologists right back at that start starting point, or is it, is the problem when people are in the workplace that they just tend to, um, only provide support to, to the, the general popul.

[00:09:41] Charlotte Fountaine: I think it's a mashup of things. I think there are some, um, there are some mental health challenges that you might face as a queer person that a, um, A heterosexual therapist or a cisgender therapist just might not have come across. [00:10:00] So it's not so much, um, like, you know, it's deliberately not being taught.

[00:10:06] Charlotte Fountaine: I think it's just, it's so helpful and affirming to come into contact with other people who are queer. Kind of seek peer support type of, um, resources. And it's also so helpful to receive the right gender and sexuality affirming care from a therapist. So, for instance, one of the video therapy courses that we have on the Calder app is managing gender dysphoria, and that's developed by a trans therapist who's actually been through that and it, and has struggled with that themselves.

[00:10:37] Charlotte Fountaine: So, That's a very kind of specific thing that people face. It's quite difficult to Google. It's quite difficult to find like trusted resources. There is stuff out there about it, but to get it straight from um, a trans therapist who's really been through through it, I think is really valuable. Um, so it's not so much that.

[00:10:57] Charlotte Fountaine: Um, a heterosexual [00:11:00] cisgender therapist can't speak to that at all. It's just, yeah, I think if somebody's struggling with that, then it's easy for them to access like an affordable app on their phone and maybe have therapy as well, and maybe, you know, do other things that support their mental health, like exercise, um, like connecting with friends.

[00:11:19] Charlotte Fountaine: All of these things are kind of part of, you know, part of. Our mental health with therapy and things like mental health apps, just being one aspect of looking after your mental health. Um, yeah, I think, and then there's also things like, um, internalized homophobia. So lots of people who are gay experience internalized homophobia, and that can be because, um, they've experienced homophobia in their past.

[00:11:44] Charlotte Fountaine: Maybe at school they've experienced homophobia. Um, You know, their parents or their family. And then if you then go into a therapeutic setting and you have somebody who doesn't understand homophobia or hasn't [00:12:00] experienced homophobia or maybe even says something homophobic by accident, then that is, I guess that's not helpful in your kind of therapeutic journey.

[00:12:09] Charlotte Fountaine: So that's why I think. Something like Kda is just so, so, so helpful because it's actually developed by therapists who understand, and then so yeah, that's, I guess that's why it's been such a pleasure to like, create it and see people using it. Yeah,

[00:12:27] Gerry Scullion: absolutely. I'm, I'm a little bit taken, taken aback, I'll be honest.

[00:12:31] Gerry Scullion: Um, Charlotte, because, you know, I'm, I'm heterosexual. I was born a man and, um, there's a, there's a level of ignorance on my own part. That I didn't realize just how poor the supporting services were around being able to provide this, this service to, to the lgbtq i plus, um, you know, community. It's, um, I'm trying, I'm trying to fathom what that must be like [00:13:00] as an individual who's in news.

[00:13:02] Gerry Scullion: Yeah. I think it's, and not be able to get Yeah. It's, it's crazy.

[00:13:06] Charlotte Fountaine: Yeah. I think it's really up and down as well because, um, like I've had six sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety on the N H s. And I found it massively helpful. You know, there was things about it where I felt it, it was in person.

[00:13:21] Charlotte Fountaine: This is way before Covid had to be in person. There was lots of things that I thought we could design this service so much better. And I think as a service designer, you are constantly, every time you're interacting with services that are completely clunky and don't work, not that I wanna slack off nhs, don't get me wrong.

[00:13:38] Charlotte Fountaine: Um, every time you're interacting with services that don't work, you kind of have this urge to get stuck in and fix it. Is a bit exhausting, isn't it? I'm sure that you have that as well. Yeah, so I think, I think it's good and bad because that though that six weeks of therapy that I had was genuinely life-changing and it made me think, I wish we could provide this kind of even better.

[00:13:58] Charlotte Fountaine: I wish we could provide this [00:14:00] digitally. I wish we could provide this for young people who don't necessarily wanna speak to a therapist or, yeah. You know, people who are really shy, who don't wanna go to a group therapy session and. So on the flip on one side, I think there are still, you know, brilliant mental health resources out there for whatever your sexuality or gender.

[00:14:17] Charlotte Fountaine: There's no reason that you can't connect with those. And I think some people find things like, I dunno, bloom or Headspace, other mental health apps, they find that they suit their needs. But I do think that there are some specific challenges that we are facing. That need specific support. And then I also think there's some really idiosyncratic ways that L G B T people are failed by the health system.

[00:14:41] Charlotte Fountaine: So an example of this is like if you're a woman who has sex with women, you go to the doctor about, um, about something and they ask you if you're pregnant, which they seem to do every single time that you're at the doctor. And, um, I think lots of people have experiences where the doctor's like, well, maybe you should do a [00:15:00] test anyway.

[00:15:00] Charlotte Fountaine: Or You're sexually active so you could be pregnant. And obviously a woman who has sex with women isn't gonna have that problem . Um, yeah. And that, that is like a kind of example of like heteronormative bias just seeping into our services. And that I think can be exhausting for.

[00:15:20] Gerry Scullion: It's always eye-opening. Um, and it was only recently for me that I was having conversation with, um, somebody who was of an older generation in their eighties.

[00:15:30] Gerry Scullion: And, um, I couldn't believe the level of prejudice that existed in the conversation. So, as I was saying before, I'm, I'm in my forties and I'm, I'm carrying stuff like in, in my background. , but I've absolutely no prejudice, you know, about anyone in, in the community here that we're talking about. Mm-hmm. . Um, but I could see how older generations, they really struggle, um, with, you know, all, all of the, the kind of [00:16:00] the evolution of the community and, and the prominence in the community.

[00:16:03] Gerry Scullion: Not me. Um, but I'm, I'm really keen to understand what this looks like for older psychologists. Mm-hmm. , um, out there at the moment, cuz like, we're, we're gonna talk about Calden a minute bit, but there's a lot of psychologists in the UK who might be older and harboring similar prejudices. What work. Can be done in that space to make, um, the psychologist or do you feel that that's even appropriate, um, on terms of educating the older psychologists who, who may have these prejudices sit sitting in their background?

[00:16:37] Gerry Scullion: Is that something that was tackled in the research for Cal?

[00:16:41] Charlotte Fountaine: I think it's hard and I've sort of got a mixture of feelings about it, you know? Mm-hmm. Um, we ended up as two co-founders, so myself and Daniel Butchery. Yeah. Um, who has a background in mental health services as well. So he was the head of product for my cognition and he's also created a few startups, so [00:17:00] very much his bag.

[00:17:01] Charlotte Fountaine: Um, And then Aldi, our other co-founder, went off to pursue their own projects. So, um, for a long time, I guess me and Dan worked on K together as two human beings, and we just found that we couldn't boil the ocean because maybe you have this urge that instead of. Creating an L G B T mental health app or instead of mm-hmm , L G B T, people having to like, you know, um, almost like dis dismantle the stigma that they've faced earlier on.

[00:17:30] Charlotte Fountaine: We should be making the world a less stigmatizing place in the first place, a less, um, kind of heteronormative, binary gender world. Um, that would be one angle. I think my feeling there is just. It's really difficult to change people's minds. Yeah. And I think here and now we're in the society that we're in and it's not so much that that kind of burden should always fall on L G B T communities [00:18:00] to like, um, you know, to.

[00:18:03] Charlotte Fountaine: To educate, but also to kind of like deal with the stigma themselves. It's just, I guess as an organization we just couldn't, I, it's almost like a completely different offering. Like Stonewall, for instance, do amazing work in terms of like advocacy and promoting L G B T rights, um, which I think is absolutely brilliant.

[00:18:22] Charlotte Fountaine: And then I think there was like this gap maybe, which is a bunch of people want gender and sexuality affirming service. And, and like how do we fulfill that gap? Yeah. With the intention of, you know, doing one thing. Well, that's what we were trying to do with Kaldor. Yeah. I also think that there's something about Kor, which is joyful, which is like, being queer is amazing.

[00:18:46] Charlotte Fountaine: Um, you know, Having realizations about your gender can be really stressful, but it can also be hugely liberating and hugely positive. Same with your sexuality. So really the I, the intention is that [00:19:00] somebody connects with K finds, you know, community finds the right video therapy courses for them, gets the right kind of.

[00:19:08] Charlotte Fountaine: We have these little queer affirmations also in the app, which are like super joyful and positive. Hopefully they kind of connect with all of that stuff and then they're able to, um, you know, move forward and not constantly feel like things like internalized homophobia or um, or internalized biphobia.

[00:19:27] Charlotte Fountaine: Just stay with them forever. You know?

[00:19:30] Gerry Scullion: It sounds like it's, um, for one, I can hear that the fact that you really enjoyed creating, creating the service, um, cause I know you were a service designer, but one of the things. Um, that I can imagine was really important was building trust and building, um, safety into the, the service itself.

[00:19:51] Gerry Scullion: Is that a fair assumption or am I, um,

[00:19:54] Charlotte Fountaine: yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So I guess we do this a few ways. One of the [00:20:00] things is, Um, working with brilliant therapists who are b a CCP registered and who have a lot of experience, um, and creating content that's trauma informed. So because it's a video therapy course, you can pause it when it's too activating in a way that you can't really do with like one-on-one therapy.

[00:20:20] Charlotte Fountaine: Yeah. So you can always kind of come back to it as you're delving deeper into those topics and you're thinking, actually this is quite stressful. Yeah. Cause this is new to me. Um, so that's one thing. And. Another thing is we have like a code of conduct. So the, the Calder app is like daily sort of quick things that you can do.

[00:20:38] Charlotte Fountaine: So daily affirmations, daily meditation, daily gratitude journal, which are kind of proven to be really effective in mental health in general. And then there's these video therapy courses, which is. Things like exploring your sexuality, exploring your gender, and then kind of, we've got plenty of video courses on separate different topics, and then there's some [00:21:00] mindfulness sessions.

[00:21:01] Charlotte Fountaine: That's the kind of app. And then we also deliver mindfulness sessions. So with the mindfulness sessions, we have this really clear code of conduct. So the mindfulness coach comes in and they explain the code of. To everybody every time. And I think that promotes a sense of, yeah, safety, but also a sense of like rhythm.

[00:21:20] Charlotte Fountaine: So you sort of come to the sessions and you know you're gonna be safe cuz you know that it's gonna be similar each time. Um, so yeah, I think things like having. Just the, the kind of stuff that you have in any mental health service, which is like code of conduct, um, incident reports, if anything does come up.

[00:21:40] Charlotte Fountaine: And then we have like an urgent support button and plenty of sign posting in case people are seeking more like, uh, emergency type services like Shout or the Samaritans.

[00:21:51] Gerry Scullion: Okay. So how do you find therapists that kind of fit, um, with the objectives of Cal? Because, [00:22:00] um, presumably I know there's some people on the team that are qualified therapists, but how do you screen for this?

[00:22:09] Gerry Scullion: Like how, do you have any advice for maybe psychologists that are listening and they might wanna get involved but. They might feel like they're, they're not able to present themselves because they might be hetero or, or, or otherwise. What advice do you give?

[00:22:24] Charlotte Fountaine: Yeah, um, so the way we find therapists is we just reach out to them cold.

[00:22:31] Charlotte Fountaine: We find them online and read a bit about them. Um, yeah. and then reach out to them cold. And generally, some of the courses we developed, we sort of spoke to a therapist and were like, okay, what kind of topics do you like writing about? The other thing that's tricky with finding therapists is like, you can be a really brilliant therapist.

[00:22:50] Charlotte Fountaine: Mm-hmm. in a group setting or one-on-one, but you might not be that comfortable with doing things like content creation, which is what's needed for the app. So we're generally looking for L G B T, [00:23:00] the. Who have lived experience of the content that they're writing about and are comfortable with doing things like writing really.

[00:23:07] Charlotte Fountaine: So, yeah. But I mean, we just, we've been really lucky. We just found absolutely, um, amazing therapists. Like, um, Dora Devassy is one of our therapists, and they wrote our course about, they wrote some of our gender courses and they were just absolute b.

[00:23:25] Gerry Scullion: So how does it work then? Um, you know, how do one people find it and how do they hire a therapist?

[00:23:34] Gerry Scullion: Can you give us an overview of how they, how people engage with the service, and do you have any, um, sort of results and, and, and being able to see how it's growing or what, what can people do to get involved as well? Like, you know, there's so many, I've got so many questions about this that I'm, yeah.

[00:23:52] Charlotte Fountaine: Really curious.

[00:23:54] Gerry Scullion: It's great, but how do people find it and how do they, how do they get

[00:23:56] Charlotte Fountaine: involved? So if people are [00:24:00] looking for, um, L G B T mental health support, you could just type calor into your Google Play store or your iOS store, download it, create an account, and get, and. Then it's all content on the app.

[00:24:12] Charlotte Fountaine: So we wanted to create something that was super affordable, especially for people who might be younger and they're just starting to think about their gender and their sexuality. Yeah. Um, so you can download it right away from the app, from the app stores and then, um, pay a subscription. There's also a free trial and there's also some things that you can do on the app for free if you just wanna engage with those things.

[00:24:36] Charlotte Fountaine: Um, cool. So we, we didn't focus on, Kind of one-on-one therapy because you can find, you can find, um, L G B T therapists on platforms like pink therapy, which is a great platform. Okay. It's just, um, if you are still questioning, you might not even realize that that's what you need. So with [00:25:00] Calder, we make TikTok videos and Instagram ads and things like that.

[00:25:03] Charlotte Fountaine: Um, and we wanna, we've also done some partnerships with influencers and a partnership with Sweatin, the walking app, so people can find it that way. And then, especially if you're on TikTok, like TikTok might, um, kind of send you Ks. Encounter's direction and then you can download it and have a proper look.

[00:25:23] Charlotte Fountaine: Are

[00:25:23] Gerry Scullion: you able to talk about the, the price and what the subscription looks like?

[00:25:27] Charlotte Fountaine: Yes. Um, so for 29 99 for a year you get access to everything Calder, basically all of the video therapy courses and for free you get access to the daily activities.

[00:25:42] Gerry Scullion: So what are those daily activities? You mentioned they're mindfulness.

[00:25:45] Gerry Scullion: Um, yes. Me.

[00:25:47] Charlotte Fountaine: I guess I'm particularly excited about the queer affirmations because if you think about the sort of world around you, there are a lot of like heteronormative affirmations. So for instance, like TV shows with heterosexual [00:26:00] characters, um, and kind of the way that people talk about relationships is often with the assumption that there's like a man and a woman.

[00:26:08] Charlotte Fountaine: Um, so the idea with queer affirmations is just things like you are valid and you are seen and. No matter what your gender or your sexuality is, you are loved these sort of affirmations. You, you don't, you underestimate how much you kind of need to hear these type of things each day and how affirmations can, um, kind of support your mental health because they're, they're about refocusing on the good and refocusing on the positive.

[00:26:35] Charlotte Fountaine: So we have those in the app. And then we have the gratitude journal, which is the same kind of pedagogy. Um, like just as humans, we're wired to focus on the, the negative in life cuz we're looking out for danger all the time. Whereas if you take stock of what you're grateful for in your life or in yourself or things that have happened this today, um, as small as a good cup of tea.

[00:26:59] Charlotte Fountaine: [00:27:00] The, the, that's what the Gratitude Journal is for, and then the meditation is like, you know, you can just click on it, use it anytime. Quick meditation, and there's some longer meditations in there, but the quick meditation's quite nice to do each day.

[00:27:13] Gerry Scullion: And what about peer to peer support? Is that something that you explored?

[00:27:16] Gerry Scullion: Um, I know, remember back to a research project that I did, connecting, um, within the community is something that's quite powerful. Is this something that you've explored about bringing the community, the localized community together?

[00:27:31] Charlotte Fountaine: Yeah. So, um, In terms of peer support, we started with a big Facebook group and that was our way of testing caldor.

[00:27:40] Charlotte Fountaine: This hypothesis that people wanted L G B T mental health support, we, we started in a Facebook group to kind of sort of, Test that assumption. And we found it was quite buzzing when it was on Facebook because people are already on Facebook. And then when we brought that community aspect over to the app, um, it just [00:28:00] wasn't as buzzing, I think, because it's not in people's habit to like log on and.

[00:28:04] Charlotte Fountaine: And keep chatting in a sort of forum way. And there are also places like Reddit and places like that where people can do like forum type community support. So then we really broke it apart and we were like, well, what is peer support? What is community support? It's not just a forum, right? You can, you can access peer support in so many different ways.

[00:28:23] Charlotte Fountaine: So another thing we tried was, um, these mindfulness sessions. And that's a good way of people coming together, especially. , you don't have to come to the mindfulness sessions because you feel isolated. But if you do feel isolated and you also don't necessarily wanna talk to somebody in your life about your gender straight up, um, that can be a really positive space.

[00:28:45] Charlotte Fountaine: I think the thing that's nice about the mindfulness sessions is like you, you have an invitation to say your pronouns upfront. And then if next session you actually think, do you know what? I'm still experiment with my pronouns. I'm still getting to know myself and [00:29:00] how I want to identify and how I want others to refer to me.

[00:29:03] Charlotte Fountaine: You can just change them. And in that group, people don't buy an eyelid at that. So I think that's something I've found really positive and inclusive. Um, so yeah, that's another element of peer sport, but I think in the future it would make sense to bring peer sport into it in another way. Um, oh, another thing we experimented with was having like a six week course.

[00:29:24] Charlotte Fountaine: Instead of it just being you download the app and you just use it continually. What would happen if we brought together a group just for six weeks? Again, online, everything's always been online with K. Um, To see Yeah. How that would work and the health outcomes are really positive. But at the same time, people said they wanted to be able to access stuff if and when they needed it.

[00:29:46] Charlotte Fountaine: So some of the, the actual timings were just inconvenient for people, which is why we pivoted to creating video course content in and having. You know, some of these questions you're having are quite private, [00:30:00] so that's why the video courses made a lot of sense.

[00:30:02] Gerry Scullion: Well, one of the things that I had, uh, a question for was, was how you handle the data, like do in those meditation courses.

[00:30:11] Gerry Scullion: Um, how do you provide the control back to the person who's attending those things? Do you display their. Their face? Is it a video session? Is it a Zoom call? Is that something that you encountered that sometimes people just don't want to give their name or show their face? Um, is that something that you encountered in the research?

[00:30:31] Charlotte Fountaine: Yeah, the showing the face thing is tricky. Hmm. If there's a person in the mindfulness session who doesn't show their face, it's more kind. Uncomfortable and yeah, I guess potentially dangerous for the other participants cuz they don't know who's in that, who's in that space. Yeah, so at first we were a bit more loose about that and we were like, okay, maybe some people don't wanna, don't feel comfortable on Zoom or maybe they've, I don't know, got stuff going on and in the [00:31:00] background or something.

[00:31:00] Charlotte Fountaine: But in the end we came up with the policy that you have to have your video on during the mindfulness sessions. Um, Because it promotes a sense of safety for everybody in the group. So yeah, we, we encourage people to rename themselves on Zoom, you know, just how you could do that in the top right corner or whatever it is.

[00:31:21] Charlotte Fountaine: Um, but in terms of faces, people did have to be like present and. And have their face on Zoom. And then the same thing for the six week course. I think it helps people to connect. And then if people are more shy and they need a different type of support, obviously they can go to the app and then that's totally anonymous.

[00:31:39] Gerry Scullion: So you mentioned there, you don't do the one-on-one therapy. Yeah. Um, what's the, what's the reason behind that?

[00:31:47] Charlotte Fountaine: I think we could do the one-on-one therapy in the future. The reason is, um, Places like pink therapy and there are other directory websites where you can find [00:32:00] a therapist exist. Having another directory for L G B T therapists doesn't necessarily solve the problem because they're still expensive and they're still super booked up.

[00:32:14] Charlotte Fountaine: The, the supply and demand problem's still there, whereas if you get, for instance, the content that an, the a, let's say a gender affirming therapist would be able to give you and put it in a video course, then everybody can access it much cheaper.

[00:32:30] Gerry Scullion: o one of the things, and hopefully I'm not coming to left field here, Charlotte, um, where, you know, I, I'm, as I, as I mentioned, I'm still kind of improving the language that I use all the time, like, you know, and I've, I've definitely, you know, improved over the last decade and, and making sure that I, I don't make slip ups effectively.

[00:32:50] Gerry Scullion: Mm-hmm. , but I do coaching and I know an awful lot. Of leaders struggle with a lot of the language that's used. Not out [00:33:00] of prejudice, just out of fear of getting things wrong. Yeah. And potentially upsetting people. And even me saying that now I've got , a level of anxiety cuz I. It's never my intent if, if I've made mistakes in this, in this call, I was gonna say phone call.

[00:33:15] Gerry Scullion: How, or, or do you have any recommendation of resources where people can learn to, I guess, improve their language? Because, um, I remember one, um, their cpo and they were basically saying to me, um, oh, like I, I wish I had somebody that could actually help me improve, uh, the language that's used in my day-to-day life.

[00:33:40] Gerry Scullion: Because they find themselves saying stuff like, Hey guys. And I'm like, Hey, yeah, yeah, yeah, definitely use that one. And they're like, really? Why? And I'm like, well, and I find myself doing as much as I can, but I would like to learn an awful lot more. I know this isn't probably part of the, the service that Cal Calder [00:34:00] provides, but there's definitely something out there for, for people just to, just to learn and stay up to date.

[00:34:07] Gerry Scullion: Not up to date, but just to, you know, making sure that they're able to, to prevent any of these kind of, cuz most of my friends want to be inclusive.

[00:34:16] Charlotte Fountaine: Yeah. Yeah. I totally get what you're saying. I think, um, I think. I think in general, people can recognize somebody who makes a mistake and has good intentions.

[00:34:28] Charlotte Fountaine: Yeah. Versus somebody who's just being, you know, homophobic or um, or transphobic. I think there's quite a thick line between, you know, accidentally, um, saying slightly the wrong thing and being actively homophobic and transphobic. So I think part of the, part of it is, You know, people can tell you have good intentions and if you ever make a mistake, you can always apologize.

[00:34:53] Charlotte Fountaine: Um, I think that's one thing. And then the other thing is we create space are [00:35:00] really good and I think do that type of work. Obviously places like Stonewall are really good and you can sign up for newsletters as well. Them, which is like just a refund publication that has lots of L G B T news and you can sign up for, we create space and Stonewall, and then that way you are kind of like, oh, this is cool.

[00:35:21] Charlotte Fountaine: There's, you know, um, some controversy around this song and, and learn about the different stuff that's going on. But I think, um, I think. What was gonna say? If you think about the other ones, I think that people, I think that people aren't like kind of there waiting to kind. Chastises somebody for saying the wrong thing.

[00:35:44] Charlotte Fountaine: I think. I think it's accepted that over time different language comes in and out of fashion. Like we've, you know, with K we have to be super sensitive and we have sometimes said the wrong thing. Like for instance, being [00:36:00] called the LGBTQ qia A plus mental wellbeing. Is something we've worked on for a period of time, because in some ways it would be, it might be more inclusive to be called the Queer Mental Wellbeing Act, but we found some people find the word queer more alienating and less positive.

[00:36:17] Charlotte Fountaine: Whereas some people say L G lgbtqia a plus isn't great because, um, It's got the I in there for intersex people, but we don't have like a specific video course for people who are intersex. And the experience of an intersex person is so different to the experience of, say, a gay person. Obviously you can be gay and intersex.

[00:36:38] Charlotte Fountaine: Um, so it's, it is tricky to kind of like use inclusive language, but also I guess we included. Like intersex in the LGBTQIA a plus because we feel that, yeah, lots of the, lots of the challenges that intersex people are [00:37:00] facing are similar to the rest of the community. But some intersex people say like, yes, I'm intersex, but I don't wanna be associated with Kaldor.

[00:37:09] Charlotte Fountaine: Like we've had an Instagram message from somebody saying that, which I completely respect. But at the same time, there's a bunch of other intersex people who are like, we want gender and sexuality. Affirm. Mental health support too. So I think that there's like, you know, a tricky thing. Yeah. And I think, um, yeah, it's

[00:37:28] Gerry Scullion: just a constant that's, that's something I remember someone asked me before, like, you know, because when I was in school, um, way back in the nineties, folks, um, it was the L G B T community.

[00:37:42] Gerry Scullion: Yes. And then, um, you know, extended to IA Plus and you. Where, where or how, how does that evolve? Um, in terms of, you know, is there, I know Stonewall is probably a really good location to go to. How does [00:38:00] the eye enter into that situation when you just saw there like, one person didn't want it, one person did want it.

[00:38:07] Gerry Scullion: So how do you handle that? How do you get around that to try and avoid conflict and try and avoid, um, upsetting people?

[00:38:16] Charlotte Fountaine: I think some form of. Conflict is inevitable in the, um, so for, so in that instance, there are still gonna be some intersex people who say, I don't feel part of the L G B T umbrella and that isn't something that interests me or, or supports me with what I need.

[00:38:37] Charlotte Fountaine: Yeah. And then there are some intersex people who are like the, you know, things. Stigma and discrimination that we face is similar. Um, we are all fighting for, um, you know, L G B T rights in general, and therefore mm-hmm. , I don't mind being included in that, in that umbrella. So I think some, um, yeah, some form of.[00:39:00]

[00:39:00] Charlotte Fountaine: Like debate there is just normal and healthy. I think even as I'm talking about all of this stuff, like yeah, there's nothing cohesive about, um, the lgbtqia a plus community really, apart from like vaguely so umbrella terms and like obviously people are having such different experiences, so, and I'm just kind of speaking from my experience and my opinion and the era that I'm from, so I.

[00:39:26] Charlotte Fountaine: Uh, I've kind of, where was I going with this? So, oh, yeah. With, with people not being a, not being a cohesive group like that can just be understood and recognized, and then different people can speak about things in the way that they want. The thing that I have found interesting is, oh, there's another way of talking about this, which I think is maybe.

[00:39:50] Charlotte Fountaine: Easier, which is like when people talk about gender and sexuality in general, and that being like gender, sexuality, relationship, [00:40:00] diverse, being a nice kind of, Simple catchall term. Not that you could talk about a simple catchall term for something that's so wide, but maybe the, the reason that I think say, um, we talk about bisexuality in the same breath as talking about trans rights or the, the r you know, the rights of different people is probably.

[00:40:23] Charlotte Fountaine: They're all connected to the patriarchy and the gender binary. So if you are trying to like promote L G B T, If you, if you promote the rights of trans people, you also promote the rights of gay people and bi people all at the same time because their interests are connected, I guess is one thought. And then Absolutely.

[00:40:44] Charlotte Fountaine: In terms of talking about gender, sexuality, and relationship diversity, if you think about it, polyamorous people could be heterosexual, but I kind of would still count them as like, um, people who. Face similar [00:41:00] types of stigma and have different, and have similar types of challenges even though they're making like a relationship choice versus, you know, somebody who's gay.

[00:41:08] Charlotte Fountaine: So, um, I think maybe that's why gender, sexuality and relationship diverse is like a nice phrase because it's talking about people Yeah. Across a wide spectrum.

[00:41:19] Gerry Scullion: Awesome. I think that's a, that's a really solid piece of advice, like, you know, um, for anyone listening there to, to take that one on board. Can I go, just go back a little bit more because, um, as we're talking, I'm getting more and more questions, which is usually a sign of a good conversation, folks.

[00:41:35] Gerry Scullion: Um, but I wanna understand you said there, um, Ray, back at the start, um, if the community. Go to a therapist that it'd say is a, is a traditional therapist that's in their local town or their village. Okay. Mm-hmm. . Um, what's happening in that existing service that's not meeting the needs other than the language is, are, are the therapists so [00:42:00] far behind that they're using offensive language or just unaware to connect?

[00:42:06] Gerry Scullion: What does that look like? Are you able to tell us a little bit more about that one? I, I'm keen to know more about that.

[00:42:11] Charlotte Fountaine: Yeah. So I definitely don't think that, um, you know, all therapists don't have an understanding. Hmm. I think therapy can be really helpful for some people and it can be less helpful for others.

[00:42:25] Charlotte Fountaine: I think in terms of looking after your mental health in general. Therapy isn't the only tool. Yeah. You also wanted, you know, in the middle of the night if you have a panic attack. Which I have done in the past. There is no therapist there for you in the middle of the night, right? Yeah. But your phone is there with mental health apps on it.

[00:42:43] Charlotte Fountaine: So, um, I think that mental health apps are just another way of accessing mental health support. Okay. I think things like exercise, making friends, having good housing, all of these different things contribute to, um, having good mental health. Um, [00:43:00] and I guess. During the research, I also remember meeting an Italian person who was like, I wanna speak to an Italian therapist in Italian.

[00:43:10] Charlotte Fountaine: And I think that is just about wanting to talk to somebody who really understands your language and gets you okay. Which is kind of, you know, that therapeutic relationship you have is really important. And if you feel understood and, and kind of, uh, you feel validated by your therapist, I think that's really important.

[00:43:30] Charlotte Fountaine: I think maybe the only. Thing that could be bad about seeing a cisgender heterosexual therapist is if they misunderstand your problem as, um, you know, let's say you are polyamorous. They think that you are, you are having a problem because you are polyamorous or you are having a problem because you are gay.

[00:43:49] Charlotte Fountaine: That isn't okay. That isn't quite what's happening, right? You are, yeah. You happen to be polyamorous and you're also experiencing some. You know, depression or anxiety. So

[00:43:59] Gerry Scullion: yeah. [00:44:00] So they almost look at the orientation as being the issue.

[00:44:04] Charlotte Fountaine: Not always. Obviously some therapists are brilliant, I think. Yeah, yeah.

[00:44:07] Charlotte Fountaine: And yeah, but I mean, any therapist know has a bias in some Yeah. Respects, which I think that they try and do training to like be more aware of. So

[00:44:18] Gerry Scullion: what, what about, and again, I'm just again, a curious designer talking to another, you know, brilliant designer. But I wanna understand like around creating, um, you know, connecting people to the, the physical therapists, the real world therapists who get it, is that something that is outside of the scope, um, of the service, do you think?

[00:44:42] Gerry Scullion: I

[00:44:42] Charlotte Fountaine: think it's outside of the scope. So, uh, yeah, I think it's outside of the scope for now, but probably not out the scope forever.

[00:44:50] Gerry Scullion: Yeah, absolutely. There's so many things that, um, are still trickling in my mind. Like, you know, it's one of the first conversations in a while that [00:45:00] I am, I'm, I'm somewhat kind of deeply curious, but I do have a sense of nervousness about saying the wrong thing, cuz I definitely wanna make sure that, um, that comes across in this episode.

[00:45:12] Gerry Scullion: Like, if I have said anything that has been deemed defensive, I'll, I'll go back and I'll correct it. Mm-hmm. , um, I think this whole service, it's just mind blowing for me because again, sometimes I've got the, the blinkers on and I don't really realize what it must be like, um, and how difficult it must be like for some people out there.

[00:45:31] Gerry Scullion: To experience services that are not meeting the needs. It's, it's the curiosity that's within me as a service designer to constantly improve that. So like hats off to yourself and Daniel for taking the initiative, um, doing the research and, and really creating something that is hugely powerful and.

[00:45:55] Gerry Scullion: Admirable as well, like for, for the community because I'm learning as I go along. [00:46:00] Um, and I can just imagine how, um, appreciative people must be to see these kind of services emerge. Um, what kind of feedback have you had from the community? Um, who, who've started to use it? Um,

[00:46:16] Charlotte Fountaine: firstly, thank you for all those compliments.

[00:46:18] Charlotte Fountaine: That's lovely. Um, And yeah, we've had some really positive feedback. So, um, we've had people who've come from TikTok and then been like, oh, this has been really helpful. Yeah. And we've had nice reviews. We've had, the mindfulness sessions have been super, super, like heartwarming because we have like a sharing session and people often Yeah.

[00:46:40] Charlotte Fountaine: Ha you know, they go through a journey. With us and me and Daniel. Mm-hmm. generally go to all the mindfulness sessions as well as the mindfulness coach. Um, so it's been really nice to see people who, for instance, like struggled with work, had like some kind of problem at work that they couldn't, felt like they couldn't overcome at the start.

[00:46:59] Charlotte Fountaine: And then seeing [00:47:00] them being, talking later and being like, I'm, you know, I've moved forward and I'm back at work and I'm happier. Um, so. Just totally amazing. And then we've also done some sort of mini health evaluation trials on the app. So with the six week course, we did a health evaluation trial and we saw a decrease in anxiety and depression.

[00:47:19] Charlotte Fountaine: And then we did the same thing with the app just over two weeks, what kind of impact could it have over two weeks? And we saw some positive changes there as well. So that's been just really, really nice. So I think, I think it's still. You know, it's still the, the journey in terms of cows are creating L G B, LGBT mental health support, other organizations, um, like thinking about doing similar things and other organizations bringing some of those ideas into their practice.

[00:47:49] Charlotte Fountaine: Um, and then, and eventually will be in a place where there isn't a discrepancy between L G B T mental health kind of outcomes and general population mental health outcomes. That's what I want to see [00:48:00] ultimately. In some ways bigger than Calder, bigger than me, which is positive, I think,

[00:48:04] Gerry Scullion: yeah, it's about 10,000 feet kind of perspective of the problem.

[00:48:08] Gerry Scullion: But like it's definitely, um, it's providing huge, um, help to, to the community. Um, I'll put a link to, to into the show notes for people to go over and check it out. And if people want to reach out to you, Charlotte. What's the best way to do that?

[00:48:29] Charlotte Fountaine: Um, yes, um, I'm on Twitter at CI Fountain, um, and there's also the Calder Instagram at Team Calder, so yeah, that's a great way to stay in touch.

[00:48:44] Gerry Scullion: Yeah, absolutely. And maybe LinkedIn as well. We'll throw a link to your LinkedIn. Yeah. Yeah. Great. Absolutely. I'll throw one in there, Charlotte. I, I like to end all my conversations with thanking the guests for being open, for being vulnerable and giving me your time and energy and your space. [00:49:00] Um, and I just want to say the same to you, so thank you so much for, for being so open in this conversation.

[00:49:05] Gerry Scullion: I really, really enjoyed hearing and learning all about.

[00:49:09] Charlotte Fountaine: Awesome. Thank you. Thanks so much for giving me a, a platform and a chance to absolutely chat away about Kaldor. Anytime.

[00:49:22] Gerry Scullion: There you go folks. I hope you enjoyed that episode and if you enjoyed it and want to listen to more, why not visit? This is hate where you can learn more about what we are up to and also explore our courses while through there. Thanks again for listening.

John Carter
Tech Vlogger & YouTuber

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