Excerpt from Interview with Shavkat Aslamshoev, Co-founder of SafeTalk, by HOKL

Talkin' SafeTalk

Can you tell me about the moment when you and your co-founder, Shohin, realized that there was a need for a tech solution like SafeTalk in the mental health care sector?

  • Amidst the personal struggles arising from the prolonged isolation during the Covid lockdowns, one day I finally built the courage to look into attending therapy. So I go online, and do a quick google search. As someone, who embraces modern technology & innovation, I was baffled how outdated most of the processes for engaging a therapist were. Send a WhatsApp message or an Email to check therapist availability? If I want to order food, I have 10 different apps that can do it within 3 clicks, but seeking help feels like burden, especially in a time when you are already feeling vulnerable. The next day I spoke to my brother Shohin about this. We both come form the background of tech and noticing this problem in the industry that we personally cared about, we decided that this needs change and if we are gonna do it ourselves, we should.

SafeTalk’s commitment to data privacy is impressive. Could you share a story that highlights how this dedication to patient data privacy laws has positively impacted a mental health practitioner or their client?

  • Early on during our inception, we had a case when one of new clients told us a story where they were asked to share their journal to their therapist via email. Now there is a dilemma, are you gonna use your personal email, that has work and other random conversations, to share a story of your personal struggle. Is that really the right place for it? They person said how grateful they were that SafeTalk gave them a space for this sensitive kind of communication, where protecting their privacy is our primary concern.

It’s wonderful to see that SafeTalk not only offers a CRM platform but also aims to create a safe space for practitioners and clients. Could you describe a particularly touching experience where you felt this safe space was truly making a difference?

  • While safeguarding the engagement of the therapist to their client is very important to us, there is another overlooked aspect is the privacy of the client data within the same Mental Health Clinic. Mental Health practitioners who use our platform are given the right to control the privacy of their patient data from other therapists within their team or organization. We have heard a number of praises towards implementing this particular feature, which takes the safety of the client data to highest levels.

You’ve mentioned going through your own mental health struggles during the pandemic, which ultimately led to the creation of SafeTalk. Could you share a bit about that journey and how it motivated you to take action?

  • Even though Malaysia always felt like home, being in a foreign country during that period, I found myself separated by distance for an extended period. This isolation triggered a series of personal mental health struggles. Being away for so long, despite the familiarity, stirred up feelings of disconnection and vulnerability. It was during this time that I realized the significance of accessible and modern mental health support. From my own experiences, I recognized the urgency of creating a solution like SafeTalk, one that bridges the gap between technology and mental health care, making support more attainable and seamless for everyone. This was my chance to give back to society, to create a positive impact on the lives of individuals who, like me, needed support during challenging times.

Tell us more about the struggle that you were facing (mental health-wise) and how did you over come it? What can others learn from your experience?

  • The first time ever I personally experienced a mental health struggle was when I was in university. I kept having incidents of sleep paralysis caused by psychological issues(that I had no knowledge of at that time). Over time the incidents became so intense that it started affecting me physically, where I would suffocate in my sleep. But I must say I’m really proud of myself, that in my early 20s, given the kind of society that I came where where mental health is such a taboo topic, I gathered the courage to go to our university counsellor & I attended multiple sessions. Not immediately, but over a period of long time, my struggle started going away to the point that I can’t barely remember having an incident since. That’s one the the reasons that I feel so passionate about mental health personally. Therapy works, and I’m the living proof.

Achieving the certification of a Standard Mental Health First Aider is a significant accomplishment. Can you tell me about a time when this training made a difference in someone’s life or in a challenging situation?

  • The biggest impact from getting certified as a Mental Health First Aider would be learning to navigate certain situations that happen around us. I have always been the type of a person, ready to give and advice to friend when they wanted to open up a struggle they are facing. Through learning the basics of various mental health through the course, it helped me to understand that there is so much more to what everyone deals with on day to day basis. Our mental well being is affected by so much than our current day life. It’s our childhood, the community around us, our natural characters & so many more other factors, that make us feel certain way at any given time. I’m constantly learning to became a better listener& the course has given me so much evidenced knowledge to start with.

The #LetsTalkAboutIt initiative sounds incredibly impactful. Could you share a specific story or moment when you saw this initiative breaking down the stigma around discussing mental health topics that are often considered difficult?

  • Through #LetsTalkAboutIt initiate we have opened up many conversations that we think are not as broadly spoken about. One particular topic that went viral on our social media channels, was related to men’s mental health. The topic revolved around the pitfalls of communicating the wrong things to men in relationships, particularly when it comes to fostering understanding and harmony. This particular conversation spawned few thousands of people to join the conversation and share their experiences, from all over the world. Our social media notifications were screaming for few weeks, and we could never imagine how far this conversation would have reached.

Can you provide an example of how the tools tailored for mental health practitioners within SafeTalk’s platform have improved the efficiency or effectiveness of their work?

  • Before integrating SafeTalk’s tailored tools, mental health practitioners often faced challenges in managing their appointments, reminders, and client communication. These manual tasks consumed precious time that could have been dedicated to client care and professional development. However, with SafeTalk’s automated booking and scheduling features, practitioners can now offer clients the convenience of self-service appointments and receive automated reminders, reducing no-shows. The secure messaging module also ensures confidential and compliant communication. As a result, practitioners experience streamlined operations, increased client engagement, and more time to focus on their core mission – providing effective and compassionate care.

Mental health advocacy requires a lot of dedication and resilience. What’s a piece of advice you’d give to someone who is passionate about mental health awareness but might be unsure of where to start?

  • To budding mental health advocates, a crucial piece of advice is this: Prioritize accuracy and evidence in the information you share. In today’s digital age, where various information proliferates, it’s paramount to thoroughly research your topic before engaging. Incorrect information can often do more harm than good. Ensuring your advocacy is grounded in truth and backed by proof will make your efforts effective and trustworthy, contributing positively to the cause of mental health awareness. Your genuine interest and empathy will help you connect with others on a human level. Whether it’s starting a blog, volunteering, organizing local workshops, or leveraging social media platforms, your compassionate listening will be the foundation upon which you can build a powerful movement for mental health awareness.

Looking ahead, what are your hopes and aspirations for the impact SafeTalk will have on the field of mental health care and on the broader conversation around mental health?

  • “Digitizing Mental Health the Right Way” is our motto at SafeTalk. It’s our unwavering pledge. In an era defined by technology, our focus is on preserving genuine connections. We’re dedicated to ensuring that technology enhances, not disrupts, the intricate path of mental health care. With every innovation we introduce, we keep in mind the emotional nuances, vulnerabilities, and hopes that define this journey. Our goal is clear: to use technology as a compassionate tool, weaving empathy, support, and progress into every digital interaction. So, when we champion “Digitizing Mental Health the Right Way,” it’s a commitment to crafting a narrative where technology harmoniously empowers and uplifts individuals on their path to well-being.

About Author

Shavkat Aslamshoev profile image
Shavkat Aslamshoev Co-Founder @ SafeTalk. Believes in the Power of Technology to Enhance Mental Health. Accredited Mental Health First Aider, HIPAA Security & HIPAA Awareness for Business Associates Certified.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Latest Articles