Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.

Innovation Hub

SA mental health app Panda plans African expansion

Article Image
South Africa has the tenth highest suicide rate in the world, with 23 suicides a day recorded and 230 serious attempts.

This is according to the South African mental health app Panda's co-founder, Alon Lits, quoting statistics from the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) .

SADAG also reported that around 70% of those who try suicide have a mental health disorder, and the most common by far is depression.

"Statistics from SADAG show that 85% of South Africans are not getting enough support regarding their mental health. Therefore, to destigmatize mental health issues, we wanted to be proactive and created an app that would contribute to having a positive discussion on mental health issues," he told Connecting Africa in an interview.

Panda is a free-to-download digital app that is designed to put mental health information, community support and expert help all in one place.

The app was founded by mental health expert and clinical psychologist, Allan Sweidan, who co-founded the Akeso Group of Psychiatric Hospitals in South Africa as well as Lits, the former GM and director at Uber in the country.

Lits said that the mobile app aimed to make it easy for anyone to invest time into their mental wellbeing by anonymously connecting to an array of valuable resources to assist them on their journey to improved mental health.

The app has a chat support where users can connect with registered counsellors one-on-one and provides life skills content and screening assessments.

Users can also join live audio-only sessions about a wide variety of mental health related topics and connect anonymously via the app with a community of experts and peers facing similar challenges.

Expansion plans

It's not only South Africans that struggle with mental health, and the app has plans to expand into other African countries and also wants to collaborate with corporates and health insurers.

"The strategy is three folds, firstly we are targeting private individuals, where anyone can download the app. Secondly, we are looking to partner with insurance companies, where they can offer the app to their members and thirdly, we are hoping that employers can offer the app to their employees."

"At the moment, the app is only available in South African app stores, but we do hope to expand into other African countries. We are speaking to a lot of corporates that have offices across the continent and they would like to make the app available to their employees in those places," he explained.

Connectivity conundrum

Lits acknowledged that there is still a long way to go when it comes to making sure that Africans are all connected and have fast Internet, but said the app is trying to access those people that do have an Internet connection.

"We are trying to solve the issue of the digital divide based on what we can control while leveraging technology."

A recent report from the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) showed that African countries have a long way to go when it comes to "meaningful connectivity" for their citizens.

The A4AI definition for meaningful connectivity is: "when someone has 4G-like speeds on a smartphone they own, with a daily use of an unlimited access point at somewhere like home, work or a place of study."

"Knowing that it is not going to serve everyone at this point but hoping that as smartphones become more affordable – which I think they are, or as fiber becomes more widespread, the people who can access our services can increase," Lits concluded.

Related posts:

*Top image is of Panda co-founder Alon Lits. (Source: Panda App).

Matshepo Sehloho, Associate Editor, Connecting Africa

Innovation hub

Story

Five mobility startups to watch in 2024

Connecting Africa has compiled a list of five mobility startups that are making a difference in the communities they serve.

Story

Orange Ventures, Digital Africa promise more funding for startups

Orange Ventures and Digital Africa are teaming up to invest more in tech startups in Africa and the Middle East through Digital Africa's Fuz program and the Orange Digital Center network.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

Sponsored video

More videos

Follow us on X

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Upcoming events

Africa Tech Festival 2024
November 11-14, 2024
Cape Town, South Africa
More Upcoming events

Africa Tech Perspectives

Story

Uber's Marjorie Saint-Lot on inclusion and sustainability in Africa

Uber's Country Manager for Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire, Marjorie Saint-Lot, shares how the ride-hailing company is approaching public-private partnerships, environmentally friendly initiatives and gender inclusion in Africa.

Story

The 100 most influential African leaders in 2023

A new report from Africa Tech Festival and Connecting Africa puts a spotlight on the top 100 African leaders in the telecoms and technology sector in 2023.

Story

Deep dive into East Africa's tech startup ecosystem

New survey reveals a lack of access to investors, reliance on international VCs and global recession trends as the biggest barriers for East African tech startups to access funds.

More Africa Tech perspectives

Guest Perspectives

Story

How e-mobility could transform Africa's transport sector

By Francis Hook

ICT analyst Francis Hook delves into Africa's e-mobility sector and unpacks the challenges faced locally and the benefits the move to electric vehicles could bring to urban transport systems.

Story

Omdia View: April 2024

By Omdia Analysts

April 2024's telecoms highlights in the Middle East and Africa included a license for Starlink in Ghana, new mobile termination rates in Ethiopia, and 6G trials in Bahrain – that and more in the latest Omdia View.

More Guest Perspectives

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up


Sign Up
Tag id test-002