Tae Yang Kim runs Gideb which app that provides self-care tools for mental health.
He and Alex Jensen from KBLA the need for Gideb in Korea, and Tae Yang’s journey to establishing the company.
The company has a double-barreled name Descry I Gideb – Descry is an English word that means to be enlightened or to catch sight of something. Gitdeb is a Korean contraction of 기대요 – 기댑 or lean on me. All of these are related to his mission, to help everyone improve their mental health.
Tae Yang began gaining experience working in this area while in America. Three and a half years ago he moved to Korea and discovered a dearth or organizations in the field. He decided to do something about it.
As Tae Yang says, “There’s so many different levels of mental health right and mental illness, some people just need to feel better because they’re stressed out or they are going through some like trauma in their life or significant event that in their life. And types of issue, are what our app and our can actually help with.”
A friendly word, from a compassionate ear sounds like something almost everyone could use once in a while.
Gitdeb is available at Google Play and the Apple Store.
This episode is brought to you by Eastpoint Partners, connecting you with an unparallel Asia-wide network of corporates, governments and investors.
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Alex Jenson 0:08
You’re listening to koreabizcast with the KBLA. I’m your host Alex Jensen, and it’s Wednesday, March 23. Today’s episode has been made possible by Eastpoint Partners, which offers an unparalleled Asia wide network of relationships with corporates, governments, and investors. Now, today, we’re going to talk about mental health. Maybe we’ll call it the business of mental health. But Korea has one of the highest rates for suicide and mental disease among developed countries and has done for more than a decade. There are major issues with abuse with divorce rates, ripping apart families and ending very badly in some cases, the problems that surround addiction as well all of these are issues that have taken the interest of our guests today, Kim Tae Yang, founder of Descry and Gideb, we’ll find out more about them. And basically what Tae Yang does is, through his company, provide users a convenient and confidential way to find a therapist counseling support groups and other resources as well as raise awareness to possible solutions or, or treatment in a country where those things are either stigmatized or can feel very expensive or otherwise difficult to find. Taeyang, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us.
Thank you, Alex, for having me. Really appreciate it.
Alex Jenson 1:30
Just reading your LinkedIn profile. It says Founder at Descry/ Gideb. Can you just start by elaborating on exactly what those two entities are? And how they relate to each other?
Yeah, sure. Um, so when I first moved to Korea, and started this company, Descry exactly actually an English word, it means to be enlightened or to catch sight of something. So I thought it was kind of cool to name a company that way, especially dealing with mental health. However, after, you know, just like other networking, and things like that, I quickly found out that not a lot of people knew what descry was, and, or the meaning of descry. And so and these aren’t like, English speaking people, right? So Koreans had like no idea. And so when I started to build out the app, our app and website, we branded it with the name Gideb. Gideb is just a shorter term for Gidaeyo, you notice this, like, kind of like, lean on me? And, you know, it’s a shorter version of Gidaeyo, and then also like, app, right, so Gideb. So that’s how we made it. We’re just trying to be a little creative, I guess.
Alex Jenson 2:51
And to step back, before we get back to Korea situation and what you’re doing today, your story runs from the United States to Korea and social entrepreneurship. Can you track that for us a little?
Sure. So when I was in the States, I lived in the States for most of my life, and I was working for a government agency called the Office of Inspector General. And while working for the federal government, you know, they kind of really encouraged us to get involved with volunteer work and community service. So the things that I kind of gravitated toward, or like, organizations dealing with mental health, addiction, games, and different organizations such as those. Even after I quit, or stopped working at IG, I continued my service with the community service and like in organizations. So when I moved to Korea, about three and a half years ago, now, I was looking for other organizations where I can maybe get involved with and maybe help out and, you know, just participate. But, you know, quickly found out that, you know, none of those kind of groups or organizations really exist out here, at least in the same way as the United States.
Alex Jenson 4:25
How is the general approach to mental health very different in Korea compared to the US, I suspect? I know some of this answer without even being an expert in the area. So I’d love to hear what you think.
Sure, um, so I think the main difference, you know, in the states, like when you have an issue or you have you’re going through some some trouble, right? It’s pretty common to say like, hey, you know, you can just talk to your friend and say, like, yeah, I’m, you know, I’m going through something and I’m actually seeing somebody about it, like counseling or psychologist and, you know, your received with like it typically that that kind of that kind of comment or statement is received with like, oh, that’s that’s really good, you know, and, and very encouraging remarks right. But when I came to Korea, you know, although I am Korean, Korean American, I was going through a lot of like cultural clash like quote culture clash and you know just having a hard time adapting to my new environment right and so I asked like my small group of friends like Korean friends for references or you know somebody that, you know, maybe somebody that I can talk to, and they kind of get, they kind of got at me with like, like, like very surprising replies like such as like, hey, you know, you don’t want to start off on the wrong foot here, you know, like asking those type of questions like people are gonna think that you’re crazy, they won’t be able to work with you, or, you know, like, hey, just let’s just grab a drink, and you can forget about it. You know, and just things like that, right. And although I know the difference, you know, that, you know, if I am going through something, it’s not, it’s not my fault, right. And I do have the background with like, counseling, like little bit of counseling, and like pure peer counseling, right? And peer support groups. And so I know the difference, but even knowing the difference, and being put in an environment like this, with those kinds of responses, I felt like, dang, did I just mess up, like, you know, did I just, like, utterly, like, mess up my whole new life out here, you know, by by saying that I needed help, you know, and I think that’s like, the biggest difference, right, like, the way that people receive those type of comments or statements. And then, you know, also like, you know, in Korea, there’s, like, the old school way of thinking is like, you know, if somebody is going through, like mental illness or mental health issues, then, you know, a lot of the older older people, they’ll think that there’s like, a demon inside of you, you know, they say, like, oh, you know, like, there’s a, there’s a demon inside of him. And that’s why he’s acting that way. I feel like those are like the biggest differences.
Alex Jenson 7:38
One of the other things that I wanted to raise, though, was the difficulty in accessing good quality mental health services. This was definitely the case a few years ago, and perhaps you can enlighten me on what it’s like now. But someone might go to hospital, they might talk about anxiety, or depression or something they’re going through, and they might get prescribed some pills, and they’ve had maybe a few minutes of consultation, or they might go online and find someone independent. And again, that’s even more expensive. So all of these things, probably put off a lot of people who are otherwise in very good conscience trying to seek decent care. What are your feelings on on the level of services that are available here in Korea right now?
Sure. Um, yeah, I mean, you know, just the general accessibility to mental health care, in general and Korea is, is it’s very different, right? Like, there’s different categories of professional help. And only certain categories or certain types of professionals can prescribe medicine, and then it’s those people or those professionals are not necessarily the same people that can offer counseling, right? So here in Korea, like the ones that can offer prescribe medicine for mental health, or psychological medicine is only psychiatrist can prescribe medicine here for those type of treatments. And then you have separately you have counselors, and you have psychologists that offer the counseling part of it. So typically, a person would have to, you know, if they need medicine to be well, then they’ll have to see a psychiatrist. And if they would like counseling, then they’ll have to see separately a counselor or a psychologist. The way that we have tried to address this, the barriers to accessibility is by having an app and with the app, we have like, self assessment tests, and no way, you know, these, these tests are, like diagnostic tools or anything, but it’s widely used globally. And you can get the results immediately. And, you know, it just, you know, you can gauge so what the tests do is not like an intake form or anything, but it can definitely, you know, make you aware of where you should be concerned with, like, you know, different different depression levels, stress levels, anxiety levels, and so on. And then from there, we have like, recommendations on like, oh, you know, if you have like this level of depression, then you might want to see, you know, these are, these are your options, right. And then even with the within the app, we have different categories, like, you know, mental health centers, clinics, psychiatrist, counselors, and, you know, also like community centers that offer like services for free. Right. So, you know, we try to lower the confusion, and also like, the barriers to, you know, seeking help. And those services that we offer are all for free.
Alex Jenson 11:24
And that’s wonderful to have those services available for free. But once you then go to the stage of connecting with the mental health support, is this something that most people can afford?
Yeah, I mean, um, you know, just with the National Insurance, a lot of the meds that fall under that coverage plan is, is is covered, is covered. For the most part. The counseling part is not really, it’s not, it’s not, it’s not really covered. But there are three services that are available, like throughout Korea, there’s hotlines that we have put on our app, that you can call, like 24 hours a day, or there’s centers like in store that you can schedule an appointment and have up to six sessions for free?
Alex Jenson 12:30
Well, it’s very important to be aware of those as well, because I hear stories all the time of, of even young people, maybe especially young people who found themselves in a lot of financial difficulty. They certainly wouldn’t necessarily feel like they could afford counseling, if it’s not covered by insurance, they might not be aware of those services. And those desperate situations are the ones that perhaps need the most urgent help. So if we want to check this out, well, how do we get the app? How do we find the information?
Oh, yeah, you can just go to the Play Store or App Store is both on Android and iOS, just search for Gideb. You can spell it in Korean, or you can spell it in English, and it’ll come up.
Alex Jenson 13:11
And is it driven in Korean language? Or do you have other languages available as well?
Yes, it’s both in English and Korean currently.
Alex Jenson 13:21
Is the actual counseling available in English as well, when you go through those options?
Yeah, so we have a separate filter. Once you download the app, and you go into the search provider feature, you can filter out professionals that can offer their services in English.
Alex Jenson 13:46
I’m sure there are some people who know that they need mental health support, but there are perhaps many, many more of us who know we’re stressed, nowhere a bit wiped out emotionally or mentally, but don’t necessarily feel like we need that level of help as into seeker professional. Do you have any advice for us just over this interview?
Sure. Definitely. Um, you know, like, there’s so many different levels of mental health right and mental illness, some people just need to feel better because of you know, they’re like stressed out or they might be going through some, you know, occasional like, like trauma in their life or something or some some, some event that happened, right. And with those with with that type of, that type of attention or that type of issue, our company we are actually offer, we have an online wellness workshop that we adapted from a mental health nonprofit organization out in the State, is actually one of our partners, we do offer the online workshop, it’s set in a group setting, and it’s online, it’s videos do video chatting, we have, like assignments, and we have activities is for three days, and it’s for two hours a day. So we do offer that and that that workshop is accompanied with a Smart Band that we do offer. Also, the Smart Band helps you keep track of your biorhythms, such as your sleep schedule, your stress levels, your activity, your heart rate, and things like that. And these are all tools, just so that it helps people manage themselves a little better, you know, with healthier, healthier habits and lifestyle, right. So those are, those are also available through our app. And you know, even without those things, like we do have, like, we have a separate blog page that you can access through our website, just keep that calm. And within the blogs, you know, those are just additional information on how to stay healthy. You know, and, and, and creating different, healthier habits that you can incorporate into your into your daily life.
Alex Jenson 16:25
That sounds really useful to check out especially during this pandemic time when, for various reasons, maybe it’s financial difficulties, maybe it’s anxiety, maybe it’s being more sedentary and not getting out and doing enough physical exercise there all sorts of connections to mental health. And this is, I’m sure a very useful tool that you’ve just described, to get out there and do a little check of where we’re at. For you. I’m on a business side that I talked about the business of mental health, we can’t escape the fact that people like yourself, just like the rest of us, they need to make a living. If the app itself is free, how are you monetizing what you’re doing?
Yeah, that’s a great question. And that’s why, you know, our company is actually a social venture. And the social venture is under the our social venture is under the branch of the Ministry of Health and Welfare here in Korea. So a lot of people might not know what a social venture is, but it’s kind of like a nonprofit and for profit, like, like fused into one company, you know, so like, most of the features and the the features and the activities that I explained earlier, those are for free. The online wellness workshop and the Smart Band, we do we do charge 200,000won, so that’s like 200,000 won for for that course and the Smart Band. Together. And also, you know, you touched on this a little while ago, but we do. Since since we started making our app and developing our app and website and all the all the tech that goes behind it. We have expanded our business model to, to to be a tech partner, like what we like to call a tech partner. But it’s basically what we’re doing as we’re creating apps for other mental health nonprofits and non governmental organizations. Currently, we’re, we have a couple contracts in the States. And we have a couple contracts here in Korea too. So, you know, with the pandemic and with COVID, you know, a lot of these nonprofits, especially the mental health nonprofits, they typically have their services as offline services where they go to a community or a center, and then they provide services. But with the pandemic and the social restrictions, they weren’t able to, you know, provide the services to their communities. But with the tech, the tech background that our company has, we’re able to provide tech support, like creating an app for them, or a website with like, you know, where they can provide services online to their communities. And so we have expanded our business model to to a b2b business to business business model where we’re doing that for other nonprofits out there.
Alex Jenson 19:52
Tae Yang really useful to get that side of it as well. Thank you so much. I want to wish you all the best even more so because it sounds like so many people will benefit.
Thank you so much, Alex. I really appreciate your time.
Alex Jenson 20:05
Kim Tae Yang connecting with us there. Did you know about this word Descry? Do you now know a bit more about the other word Gideb. If you still need to look up more, you’ve got all the details. You can listen back to this interview to catch them. You can also find us of course through LinkedIn if you search KBLA we’ll be putting all the details there, too. Let me also thank Eastpoint Partners again for making today’s episode possible. See you again tomorrow.