Fika is making emotional workouts as important as the gym

Health start-up Fika, is named after the Swedish concept of taking relaxed time to talk with friends or colleagues over a coffee. Based in Bethnal Green the company wants to move the dial on mental health through conversation, encouraging people to build up their emotional fitness. 

“What we’ve done with our language over the years is we use the phrase mental health and what we are referring to is mental illness. We’ve created this huge problem with stigma,” explains Fika’s CEO Nick Bennett. 

“For the last two years we’ve been developing something focused on prevention in this space.” 

Motivated by the suicide of a close friend, Bennett set about creating an app focused on building up emotional fitness. Like a 5 minute a day workout app, Fika encourages users to exercise their emotional health, building up day by day.

Improving emotional fitness has many benefits include improved focus, confidence and resilience. Fika was developed with the help of seven psychologists, borrowing theories from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and solutions-based therapy. The app houses exercises for developing goal power, positivity, adaptability, confidence and relationships and can be used alone or face-to-face with a friend.

Unfortunately, you can’t download Fika on the App Store, as Fika is currently exclusively working with UK universities, including Lincoln, Exeter, Manchester Metropolitan and Coventry. Today, the app is only available for students of these universities.

Focusing on students means that Fika can thoroughly test their product, before rolling the product out to the rest of the world. Furthermore, over 15,000 first-year students reported they had a mental health problem in 2015-2016, up from 3,000 10 years earlier, that’s according to the Mental Health Foundation. So, the student population is certainly a worthy place to start.

“We need to be brave as a culture. It’s time for us as a nation to stand up, and say let’s normalise emotional fitness, make it habitual, and address the terrible imbalance between the importance placed on physical fitness and the missing importance on emotional fitness,” says Bennett.