Technology is often blamed for discontent and disconnection in our modern world, but what if it allowed us to get help and find a better life balance? The new app Everbliss hopes to facilitate stronger mental health by connecting users with certified coaches and therapists for live video consultations. Co-founder Uli Beutter Cohen shared her equally creative and corporate background, why we're struggling more than previous generations, and how a virtual office visit can be more successful than a physical one.

How did you get involved with Everbliss?

My background is in brand building and entrepreneurship. I co-founded a creative agency on the West Coast and ran it for six years, and then moved to New York as a startup adviser and coach trainer for three years. I met Everbliss co-founder Taras Kravtchouk at a serendipitous time, as I had a new mission: How on earth can I make people come together about why they are thinking, feeling, and believing in certain things, how it affects their lives, and how they can take power back by acknowledging it.

Meanwhile, I had started a weekend retreat for busy women to get in touch with their emotional intelligence, and that failed, and began weekly  Wednesday meetings at my kitchen table to help people become accountable of their goals, and that went better. All those acts were very cumbersome. I ran into Taras at a networking space now called Friends Work Here and he was working on the beta of Everbliss. His passion is similar to mine, and he does product and I know brand building and coaching. I joined in 2015 as COO and became a co-founder based on all the improvements we made since. Now we're focused on making the experience seamless and that it honors the human connection.

You've talked about being a digital brand builder "above ground" and doing more art-inclined work "underground." Should that be the key to everyone's work-life balance?

The term "work-life balance" is thankfully dying. Now we're more often saying "work-life integration" or just "balance," period. We're no longer drawing a line between work and life. Today, we're very fluid individuals in how we live and communicate. We're also seeking work that expresses how we are as people: It is becoming no longer necessary to turn away from your job to get to the weekend.

That's part of the digital evolution we are going through as humans: We have different tools now and higher demands on our time.

For me, I've been focused on building a digital platform for human connection. I have the need to connect with people in person. For example, with Subway Book Review, I could replenish and recharge. People think the subway is the craziest place in New York. Definitely not! It is my happy place.

It's important to personalize your balance and to make it as individual to your needs as possible. You have to understand what feeds you, create pockets of time for it, and stick to it diligently.

I helped launch Cuddlr, so I respect your challenges with creating a safe connection-based space today. Both coaching and therapy are truly intimate experiences. How do you translate that intimacy to the digital platform?

The intimacy of speaking your truth in front of a stranger is definitely part of the hurdle for anyone considering therapy or even coaching. It is about looking at yourself, which is very daunting. An app actually makes it easier, as you have more of an anonymous or a friendly chat feeling since we're now used to Skype, Google Hangouts, and similar tech. We've heard users find it easier to walk into the digital practice on Everbliss than walk into a real-life practice. It's also easier to do digital instead of physical because there is less waiting.

We are HIPPA compliant and are creating a highly personalized experience: We let the user know we are interested in addressing individual issues through the keyword and the quiz. We want to honor the human connection through a live, real person, seeing the face, reading the body language, and creating a different foundation of trust.

"Balance" wasn't a big discussion for previous generations. Why now?

Our lifestyles have changed completely and the tools we use have changed completely. The life cycle of a career has changed. There is a huge fear of the future since we have more access to knowledge, more insight into other people's lives for more comparison, more access to tool that can help us grow. That growth can come with anxiety and stress, though, and we have the pressure to grow more than 60 years, 30 years, or even 10 years ago. A decade ago, Facebook was at its early stages and we didn't see what other people were doing and making decisions with the same pressure. Ignorance is bliss.

With older generations, they say they did not have the same choices. It was much more of a vertical lifestyle, but now we are completely horizontal: Spreading out rather than just going up.

Five years from now when you're looking back, what would you like to be the impact of Everbliss?

We won't be going back to a vertical lifestyle anytime soon, and it will become even more important to know yourself. The platform will bring you focus, stronger decision making abilities, and a more authentic connection to the world. From that place, you can make your own version of what a successful life is for you.

We look at Everbliss as eating your veggies so you won't crash. You don't start meditating when you have anxiety attacks, but hopefully you start early so you won't have them in the first place. Same with Everbliss, and it is there for you if it comes to a place where you start crashing, too.

Research shows that the number of mental health issues in U.S. is rising. Accept now that it is happening more and that we need to address it now. We don't have to make it so hard for ourselves.

Published on: Mar 22, 2016