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A Discussion With Janine Ellenberger on Importance of Building Better Mental Health

A Chat with Behavidence's VP Marketing about making mental health diagnosis and management accessible and always-on

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Janine Ellenberger
Janine Ellenberger

Tell Us More about yourself and what you do.

I was born, and lived the first thirty something years of my life, in South Africa. We spent a few years in the UK and then moved to the US. My predominant career until four years ago was that of a practicing physician. Adamant to find a chemical free sunscreen for my children to use, I founded a cosmeceutical product line six years ago and transitioned into that business full time

Why did you become part of the founding team for Behavidence?

I have a son with Autism and ADHD. It took us 9 years, 9 psychiatrists, 14 psychologists and a lot of heartache to finally get the correct diagnosis. This is very close to my heart. Besides which, being a physician and serial entrepreneur, the opportunity to create a digital phenotype for ADHD (and eventually, other mental health conditions) and be part of a founding team that is dynamic and challenges the status quo, is the ultimate challenge.

Who has been a role model to you and why?

My grandmother. She was a resilient, optimist who endured multiple life challenges with the greatest attitude and sense of joie de vivre. She was also a lifelong learner of all things current and challenging.

How do you maintain a solid work life balance?

Life what? However, I do make time to exercise every day as I believe that helps both mental and physical health.

What traits do you possess that makes a successful leader?

Having worked in an ER, I have the ability to be compassionate and calm in highly stressful situations, and am always able to keep the bigger picture in mind. I also believe that people work to do their best and that a successful team depends on excellent communication and energy. This creates a great environment to solve all problems and innovate even more. I love creating a space in which people can grow.

 What has been the hardest obstacle you’ve overcome?

We have moved a number of times at key times in my life and career. I have had to learn to adapt and reinvent myself each time. It’s humbling to have come from a big position in one country and to have to start from the beginning again in a new one. And then do it again. One trusts the system until you are comfortable enough with yourself to rock it. My son`s delayed diagnosis was part of that systemic trust that took me a while to question. At great cost.

What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?

Make sure you learn something new every day.

Outside of work, what defines you as a person?

Champagne breakfasts, family adventures and a good debate.

Where do you see you and your company in 5 years?

I see Behavidence changing the way mental health conditions are diagnosed and treated. The accuracy of the Behavidence app will challenge the current DSM-5 criteria. More importantly, it will make the diagnosis of mental health conditions affordable and accessible to many socio-economic groups who do not have it. By this, I mean having health insurance and money for a co-pay, having transportation to get to and from services, and finding culturally, sensitive processes that take into consideration the stigma many people attach to mental health issues. The Always On function allows for the continuous monitoring of these conditions to be timely and relevant, helping to prevent relapses and enabling intervention. Our first digital phenotype is for ADHD. What we know is that moderating and reducing screen time can effectively help in managing ADHD related behaviour.  A digital picture gives an insight into app usage patterns, duration and frequency and these insights are useful in monitoring what makes symptoms of ADHD better or worse. This opens new opportunities for better understanding and management of ADHD.

 In 5 years’ time we will have multiple digital phenotypes and will have challenged the vastly under-serviced and unchanged field of mental health. 

How can you be reached?

You can reach me on below links:

Linkedin

Website

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