Jesey: Improving Mental Health By Planting Trees

Developed for and with young adults, Jesey is a self-care A.I assistant, designed to help boost mood and morale with acts of kindness by planting trees when users check-in. Evidence shows that acts of kindness, deeds or helping others is beneficial for people’s mental health as altruistic behaviours activate the brain’s mesolimbic reward system, giving a helper’s high which improves morale, self-esteem, happiness and purpose. The app aims to positively affect mental health and climate change in one app for the first time.

Jesey has partnered with Tree planting Charity Trees for Future to plant trees and improve the livelihoods of impoverished farmers by revitalising degraded lands. A new mood-boosting app, Jesey, launches today, aiming to plant a million trees through action of self-care and kindness.

The power of kindness is Mental Health Week 2020’s theme this year, and Jesey’s creators hope its launch, to mark the beginning of the week will support young adults facing increased anxiety during the Covid-19 pandemic. Research from Young Minds shows 83% of under-25s have seen their mental health worsen during the pandemic and a quarter are no longer able to access mental health support.

Jesey, the AI ‘friend’ and wellbeing coach, will help young adults manage moods and motivation while helping them save the planet through a tree-planting charity partnership.

The app encourages young adults to discuss any issues they feel are limiting their potential, tracking their mood every day to develop a history of and insight into their mental health.  For every new download of the app, a new tree is planted and a new tree planted for three** check-ins a week. Jesey is the first app in the world to create such a circular experience connecting mental health and sustainability.

Users are sents daily reminders, invites for coffee-style catch-ups, shares mindfulness exercises and encourages the user to get out, get off-screen and work-out. These activities have been scientifically proven to boost your mood, and Jesey promotes each under one roof, underpinned by one of the most impactful things we can do to feel better about ourselves – sharing an act of kindness.

The app, created by tech and wellbeing entrepreneurs Lee McPherson and Chris Sweeney, honed in on this insight during its development. Lee McPherson, a tech and eco startup adviser said:

“We knew that kindness and making an impact has a huge effect on how we feel and how we see ourselves, and we understood it could be used as a really motivating tool to practice more self-care. We wanted to explore this in relation to eco-anxiety, an issue which is prevalent in young adults and something they felt pretty powerless to influence. This is where Jesey came in- a way to be kind to yourself, and the planet.”

While Jesey isn’t a replacement for a counsellor, it works as a wellness buddy and has been programmed to use techniques similar to cognitive behavioural therapy, building a daily rapport with practical exercises and mood visualisations. What’s different about Jesey is its approach. Areti Petoussis, 20 years old Sheffield student said:

“It’s been great that mental health is a big thing now, but it feels like it’s a conversation my friends and I have been left out of. I like Jesey, the GIFs and emojis. It’s so non-invasive that I feel like I’m chatting to a friend, not being ‘labelled’ for doing something that’s good for me.”

The initial app, developed with leading mental health professionals, has been tested with students in 16 UK cities over the past year ahead of finalising the tree planting initiative with Trees For The Future (Trees.org). Trees.org is a charity that has planted 187m trees to date, each one native or naturalised in the environment planted, working with farmers to understand their needs and match them to species that will benefit them and the planet. Despite the obvious hurdles in launching an app with a planting programme during a pandemic, Jesey’s creators are passionate that now is the time. Chris Sweeney, co-Founder and a trustee of the world’s oldest youth club said:

“We’ve seen how much cleaner and clearer the air is during lockdown, our planet has been healing, but the opposite is probably true about our mental health. We’re feeling powerless and stuck in a rut right now, but Jesey can help us do our bit for the planet and for ourselves from wherever we are, even if that’s the sofa.”