Half of the young people in Kenya have elevated depression and anxiety. 45% of the disease burden comes from anxiety and depression. The Shamiri Institute has an answer.
Kenya has been described as a young hustle culture. But that hustle takes a toll.
According to Tom Osborn of the Shamiri Institute, “Mental health and wellbeing are really important. This is especially true in low income settings like Kenya where I was born and raised. In Kenya, the median age is about 19. There’s evidence that shows this young population is stressed because they have to succeed so early in life.”
In Kenya, there is a massive wealth gap. The Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is around $1,750, while the number of millionaires in Kenya will grow by 80% over the next 10 years. Less than 0.1% of the population (8,300 people) own more wealth than the bottom 99.9%. This places pressure on young people to succeed or be left behind.
“Most mental health outcomes are strongly connected with future career outcomes,” Tom explains. “We think mental health is important at this young age because it determines the life trajectories of many young people.”
According to Katherine Venturo-Conerly of the Shamiri Institute, depression and anxiety make up 45% of the disease burden for young people in low-income countries. “Our research shows that approximately one in two youths have elevated depression and anxiety. Yet these young people go untreated because of a lack of caregivers. There is around one mental health provider for every one million Kenyans.”
Tom Osborn explains that “societal stigma, government under-investment,” are partially to blame. But he also points out that “most existing treatments are long, costly, and not culturally appropriate.”
And the answer is…
The Shamiri Institute provides mental health interventions in a simple, stigma-free, scalable, and school-based group intervention. Services are delivered by young lay-providers, ages 18-to-24. Shamiri trains the mental health lay-providers and provides vetted tools.
Randomized Controlled Trials of the Shamiri Institute’s interventions show more than 35% reduction in both depression and anxiety lasting up to 7 months. The interventions also provided 14% improvements in social support and a 2.5% increase in academic grades.
“Our approach lowers the cultural and systemic barriers that make mental healthcare inaccessible for Kenyan youths,” Katherine explains. “Instead of the typical psychopathology-centered approach to treatment, we use a simple, positively-focused intervention that emphasizes wellbeing, academic and social improvements. Our innovation is brief, accessible, and disseminated through a network of peers working in schools.”
About Katherine Venturo-Conerly
Katherine Venturo-Conerly is the co-founder and scientific director of the Shamiri Institute. She is also an accomplished researcher and scholar, specializing in clinical psychology research with a particular focus on therapy design, testing, and dissemination, as evidenced by over 15 published manuscripts. She is a ’19-’20 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Harvard College and current PhD student at the Harvard Lab for Youth Mental Health, where she focuses on efficient psychotherapies for global youth. Her interest in efficient and scalable mental health interventions for under-resourced, global populations also led her to work at the Columbia Global Mental Health Lab and Johns Hopkins Center for Humanitarian Health. She has received over fifteen grants and fellowships and awards from organizations including the American Psychological Association and the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.
About Tom Osborn
Tom Osborn first appeared on Episode 50 of the Social Entrepreneur podcast. He is a community mobilizer, entrepreneur and research scientist. Born and raised in poverty in rural Kenya, he has started and worked for organizations that aim to disrupt the status quo and lift communities out of poverty. At 18, he co-founded GreenChar (later Vuma Biofuels), a social enterprise that provided homes and institutions in rural Kenya and urban slums with clean energy. For his work and leadership at GreenChar, he was the youngest recipient of Echoing Green Fellowship – an award for the world’s best social entrepreneurs. At 19, he was named on the Forbes’ 30 under 30 list in Social Entrepreneurship, the second youngest person to receive the honor. He has also been awarded the Women Deliver Social Entrepreneur Award in 2016, the Anzisha Prize Energy Award and many other awards. Salt Magazine has also listed him as 30 under 30 social entrepreneur. Tom graduated from Harvard College with a degree in Psychology (High Honors).
Learn More About Katherine Venturo-Conerly, Tom Osborn and Shamiri Institute:
- Shamiri Institute: https://www.shamiri.institute
- Shamiri Institute on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shamiri_institute
- Shamiri Institute on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ShamiriTeam
- Shamiri Institute on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShamiriTeam
- Vuma Biofuels (formerly GreenChar): https://www.vumabiofuels.com
- Tom Osborn’s interview, Episode 50: https://tonyloyd.com/podcast/050-tom-osborn-greenchar-social-entrepreneurship-comes-early
Transcript: Katherine Venturo-Conerly and Tom Osborn of Shamiri Institute
Katherine Venturo-Conerly: Hi, I am Katherine Venturo-Conerly, and I am the co-founder and scientific director of the Shamiri Institute and a PhD student in clinical psychology.
Tom Osborn: Hi, my name is Tom Osborne. I am the co-founder and executive director at Shamiri Institute.
Tony Loyd: All right. So what in the world is Shamiri Institute?
Katherine Venturo-Conerly: Shamiri means thrive in Kiswahili which is probably a good thing for you to know first. And we are a data-driven nonprofit organization. And our goal is to develop test and then disseminate programs to improve the mental health and wellbeing of youth, especially in low resource areas around the world.
Tony Loyd: Yeah. So mental health and wellbeing. Tom, why mental health and wellbeing what’s going on with that?
Why Mental Health in Low Income Countries?
Tom Osborn: Yes, I think mental health and wellbeing really important and especially in low income settings, like, Kenya where I was born and raised. In Kenya and similar countries, where we’re really young population. So the median age is about 19 and there’s all these evidence that shows a lot of this young population are stressed because they have to succeed so early in life. And most of this mental health outcomes are really strongly interconnected with their future career outcomes. So we think mental health is important at this young age because it really determines the life trajectories of many young people.
Tony Loyd: In low-income countries in particular, around the world and in this crazy time, it’s kind of like, we’re all carrying a lot of trauma in our body. Right. Yeah. Yeah. So Catherine, you want to talk a little bit about that disease burden about what’s happening with that?
Katherine Venturo-Conerly: Yeah. So mental illnesses are the leading cause of disability globally. So I think they’re really becoming a main focus for a lot of international organizations like the WHO and especially a lot of kids, I think certainly during COVID, but even before COVID are experiencing mental illnesses and often not just one, they often come in pairs.
People will have more than one, and there’s really sort of a lack of care available for those mental illnesses in a lot of places and a lot of stigma around seeking care. I think there’s a lot of need in this space.
Tony Loyd: I read something that you published that said 45% of the disease burden in youth in these low income countries is based on depression and anxiety.
Katherine Venturo-Conerly: Yeah, that’s right.
Tony Loyd: If half the youth have this elevated depression and anxiety and 45% of the disease burden comes from it, let’s just ask the obvious question.
You, you mentioned stigma as one of the reasons that people don’t seek help. Right. But let’s just say somebody can get past that. How easy is it in the low income country to seek mental health services?
Tom Osborn: That’s the other challenge, right? Because even like assuming stigma doesn’t exist we have a really significant lack of, expert caregivers. So for example, in Kenya, we have about one mental health clinician for every one million people. And even those who can access these treatments, obviously really high costs.
It’s also really long. And often they are using therapies and treatments that were not built, that have not been tested in this population.
Tony Loyd: That’s got to be a very busy mental health provider, one provider 1 million people. Like I’m not sure when they sleep.
Katherine Venturo-Conerly: It’s tough. (laughs)
Tony Loyd: The problem you’re solving. So let me make sure I understand what the problem is. There’s this disease burden because of mental health. Particularly in low-income countries there’s a lack of providers and there’s this sort of sense of stigma that we all kind of share. But then, in a kind of a proud society, there’s maybe even a greater layer of stigma in order to seek help.
So if that’s the problem, how do you go about solving the problem?
How do you go about solving the problem?
Katherine Venturo-Conerly: It definitely needs a multifaceted solution. We definitely need to have a lot of different things going on in order to help solve this. But a few things that we have tried include using people to deliver mental health care, who are actually not formally trained mental health providers.
So we would call them usually lay providers. And in our case, we hire people who seem really talented and able to connect with people well, and who seemed to have an understanding of the importance of mental health and wellbeing, but who are just high school graduates? So their only degree is like a high school diploma most of the time.
And we just work with them and train them and get them to the point where with some supervision, from an expert they’re able to deliver care. So that’s one strategy that we’ve used.
Tom Osborn: Another strategy that we use is also building, mental health interventions that are derived from a really simple, psychological concepts like about human functioning rather than targeting psychopathology directly because I think, one way that you can treat depression is, for example, by really focusing on the negative effective part of the depressive mood. But another way you can do it is by improving people’s happiness, I mean, personal relationships and, their values and just the internal resources in terms of personal life difficulties. And our mental health interventions are derived from this research that shows that, simple psychological concepts like growth, and gratitude, and values, can have equal therapeutic effect sometimes, as, traditional therapy that, directly targets depression, or anxiety symptoms, for example.
Tony Loyd: That’s an interesting point. , one of my heroes in this space is Martin Seligman so positive psychology where he’s saying, can we just stop treating mental health as a disease focus and move instead to what he calls flourishing. I call it thriving.
So can we move them? And it’s interesting that the name of your organization is thrive. So it sounds to me like you’re taking this positive psychology approach then, is that right?
Katherine Venturo-Conerly: I would say sort of, I think it’s a little bit different because. Martin Seligman’s positive psychology is definitely also interested in improving like in reducing symptoms of mental illness, as well as improving flourishing and positive traits. But I think that, we have sort of applied these positive concepts and positive types of therapy to trying to primarily reduce symptoms of mental illness and then more secondarily improve flourishing and things like that. And they don’t always go together. It can be hard to target both at the same time. So, we’re, I think we’re definitely more focused on the symptoms of mental illness than some other positive psychology researchers that we’re interested in both.
Tony Loyd: Yeah, I guess if you’re treating somebody on the upper West side of New York, their life circumstances are slightly different, than somebody who’s living in a low income country. Tom, you started to jump in there. What did you want to add to that?
Tom Osborn: I was saying, in some circles, it’s a really important distinction. So I think we’re using the similar positive psychology concept, but we’re really targeting, towards alleviating mental health symptoms rather than general, overall flourishing.
How Does the Shamiri Institute Work?
Tony Loyd: So if I am a youth in Kenya or one of the other countries that you serve and I’m experiencing Shamiri Institute, what am I experiencing? Is there an app? Do we have gatherings? How does it work?
Tom Osborn: So we have a group based therapy model. And so how young people in Kenya currently interface with our work is we have our lay providers who we call Thrive fellows and they go to schools and in these schools, they lead these group therapy sessions of between like six to 12 kids. And so in these sessions, the kids go through this protocol that we’ve developed.
We give them take-home exercises but that’s literally, that’s just how they interface with us by meeting our try fellows. And we do this for at least one month. And we also track their progress across the rest of the school year.
How Katherine and Tom Met
Tony Loyd: All right. So I have to know how you two got together. Right? So, you know, here is one of my heroes, Tom Osborn, you know episode 50 of Social Entrepreneur. So, here he is back again, 300 or so episodes later, and Catherine, I’ve never met you before. And so how did this venture come about?
Tom Osborn: Well, yeah, I think that’s a, that’s an interesting question. So I think I’ll just speak on how I met Katherine and then she could pick up from that. So, in Episode 50, I was running GreenChar which has now evolved and it’s called Vuma Biofuels, it was a social enterprise that made clean cooking fuels.
And then in 2016, I transitioned out of GreenChar, and I went to Harvard for undergrad. And so in my second year at Harvard, during undergrad, I took a class on an entrepreneurship in the developing world. And in this class I met this professor who, was saying, and talking about how you could use art to solve difficult entrepreneur and entrepreneurial problems.
And so I didn’t actually think that was possible. But when she challenged me find a way to try it and, kind of do it. And at the same time, I just started studying psychology and, I was just becoming a little bit more familiar with the need for mental health system systems and mental health support system in my home country of Kenya.
And so I was like, if this professor is right, I’m going to use art to solve this mental health problem. And so I emailed a professor called John Wise, who was the only professor who was developing mental health treatments. And he had lived in Kenya before.
And I go to his office and he thinks I’m a mad. He’s like, what do you mean you’re going to use art to solve mental health problems? I think you should talk to a few people in my lab who been thinking a little bit more about this. And that is how I met Catherine in January, 2018. Yeah.
Tony Loyd: January of 2018. So January, 2018, it’s like a turning point in your story here. So Catherine let’s have you take it from your side. What were you doing in this lab when Tom showed up?
Katherine Venturo-Conerly: Yeah, sure. So I was an undergrad at the time, just like Tom And I was very, very interested in clinical psychology. I’d worked for a while at some mental health focused non-profits and really saw that this was something that I was passionate about and an area where there was a lot of need for better care and better access to care around the world.
And so John, when he met with Tom reached out to me and said, Hey, you might be interested in working on this with Tom. He seems to want to use art, but I wonder if we want to sort of be raising more awareness and reducing stigma without having some sort of care that’s widely available. So maybe we should be thinking about what sorts of interventions therapies we could develop with him and test in Kenya.
And that would be a good first step. So that was how I got in touch with Tom and how we started working on designing a therapy, which is now the Shamiri wellness intervention. And then we, we traveled to Kenya together in 2018 and also in 2019. And we’ve run several randomized controlled trials of it now and found some good evidence that it works. So it’s a very short version of our story.
Tony Loyd: I want to come back to those randomized control studies that you’ve done and some of the results that you saw because they are impressive. It tells me you’re on the right track, but, I always say there’s always a gulf between Tom knows this too, because he’s been through this before, but there’s this gulf between idea and innovation.
And then there’s this Gulf between innovation and impact. To cross that bridge, from your idea to your innovation it takes a lot of empathy work. It takes a lot of time spending time in the space with the problem. Now I know that Tom came from Kenya and that he had lived this experience as a young hustler, uh, coming up with all these great ideas and building businesses and being an entrepreneur and living in, in that set of circumstances.
Catherine, had you ever been to a low-income country at that point? What was your familiarity?
Katherine Venturo-Conerly: Great question. I actually had never been outside of the United States at that point. I’d basically only gone to visit my grandparents in Alabama. So that was kind of the extent of my travel at the time. So yeah, it was a big jump for me. I will say though, I had not a lot of experience, but for an undergrad, without as much experience as I could have had volunteering in spaces and doing research in spaces with folks who were suffering from mental illness and their families. So I was very, very invested in that work more broadly. And I think I felt that I wanted to do work in low income countries and low income areas in the United States as well. There’s certainly a lack of care in a lot of, in a lot of pockets of high income countries as well..
Tony Loyd: How did you two and I’ll let either one of you answer this. How did you two go about , doing that empathy work living a day in the life sometimes we go, okay, here’s a need, but then we push in on that. We find another need behind that need, and then we push in on that.
We find something else back there and we really get it that, the five wives and the root cause. So how did you go about getting into that space and connecting with the people you would serve and understanding their needs?
Tom Osborn: Yeah, I think something that I may have stated in episode 50, which I think is still really true today is, I think those who are closest to the problem are closest to the solution. And I think, experience, really informed me that we had to, just from day one is really privileged, getting the include of experts and people from the communities that we were actually doing the work and selling one thing that Katherine and I and I really part of is even though we cutting the flag for the team, I think our work has only been possible because of a really, expert multicultural collaboration with where we’ve involved, high school students in Kenya, mental health experts in Kenya.
People that can maybe change policies based in Kenya. As well as also experts know from the US. I think from day one that has been really important, but I think what you say also raises another gulf, which father complicates these two gulfs that you’ve mentioned, in our case.
And that’s just also the gulf between like research and implementation. And so for example our RCT are really, controlled and really recent workers, but often once you move from that, like already succeeding in the real world, that is a gulf between how program looks like when it’s being researched versus when it’s being implemented.
And then that also, I think these are things you also sort of trying to figure out, how do we. You also used to move now from where we think we have an idea or an innovation that seems to work and how are we going to be bringing into this communities, making sure it’s impactful and sustainable and still, like as close as possible to what we have tested and that, actually works.
Tony Loyd: Catherine. Do you want to add something to that?
Katherine Venturo-Conerly: Yeah, I’ll add that. I think one of the really key things that has helped bring us sort of closer to the solution is working with our lay providers in more capacities than you could imagine. I think they’re so, so, so helpful when we first designed the intervention. We had a very like long training with the lay providers during which we asked them for a lot of feedback on the intervention.
We’d have them sort of practice it and then tell us parts of it. And when I say intervention, I’m just talking about the therapy to be clear. So then we had them practice it. And then tell us, like, what parts seemed awkward or seemed like they might not work or what wording they suggest we change, or if they wanted us to add anything new or take anything away from the therapy.
And that was hugely helpful. Because they’re all people who just graduated from high school in Kenya. And so they’re really, really close to the population that we’re working with. And I think now this problem of how do we implement this thing broadly is also something where the lay providers are just so huge.
Because they, they help us be able to bring this out to a lot of people. And they also are probably going to take over a lot of the training duties that I used to have when I would go to Kenya. When we’re trying to bring this to, tens of thousands or millions of people, I cannot be there to train every single lay-provider.
So they’re going to have to learn to do the training somewhat themselves, and they seem like they’re going to be absolutely fabulous at it. So I think they’re a huge part of the solution to these
Creating an impact through others.
Tony Loyd: It’s always an interesting point in every entrepreneurs journey where they have to go from creating an impact to creating an impact through others. Right. It’s a different skill set then. Isn’t it?
Tom Osborn: A hundred percent
Katherine Venturo-Conerly: It is.
Tom Osborn: A hundred percent. And I think it’s, it’s hard, because as an entrepreneur, especially in the early years, you’re really embedded to the organization that you really want to be involved in every single facet. And there is this process of like letting go, which is sometimes really tough, and difficult to have.
And I think we are just about , getting closer to that process. And I think, I honestly, I’m not really looking forward to that because I want to be involved in everything, but we are doing as an organization. Yeah.
Tony Loyd: Let me ask you, you mentioned RCT, so let’s decode that for somebody what’s an RCT?
Katherine Venturo-Conerly: Absolutely. So RCTs stands for randomized controlled trial. And so each of those words sort of describes what it is. So it’s randomized in that. Each participant is randomly assigned by for example, a random number generator to either the intervention group, which is the therapy that we’re interested in testing in this case or the control group, which is in our case a sort of attention control therapy, or we tried to make it more useful by making it a study skills control group where kids learn study skills that we don’t necessarily think will have as big of effect and have an effect on their mental health, but would still be useful and helpful to them in their lives.
It’s a trial of. The therapy versus some sort of control group.
Tony Loyd: And so what did you find? You ran these randomized control tests in the field and what did you find.
Katherine Venturo-Conerly: Yeah. So we found, , significant effects of about 35% reduction for both depression and anxiety symptoms. And we were really, really pleased with that. That was one of our main goals. Another main goal was to see if we can improve academic performance. And we actually found that relative to a study skills group, our intervention significantly improved academic performance.
So that was extremely exciting, especially because it was a study skills group that it was being compared to. And we also found significant effects of the therapy for social relationships with peers. So that was. Fabulous as well.
Tony Loyd: Yeah. So say more about that, about social relationships. So like improvements in social support. What does that look like?
Katherine Venturo-Conerly: Yeah, so we used a questionnaire that asks people about how they perceived their social support. So it wasn’t like we were asking, we were actually sort of coding how many friends people have writing down, Oh, this person has three friends and this person has two. It was more about like the quality of people’s social relationships as they perceive them, which past research has shown is like, more connected with people’s wellbeing, how they perceive their relationships.
How does the money work?
Tony Loyd: Let me ask you this then how does the business work? So you’re a nonprofit, but I heard you saying that you hire these youth led lay providers, right? These youth lay providers. So how’s the money work?
Tom Osborn: Well, that is a really interesting question. And I think that
Tony Loyd: it’s always an interesting question.
Tom Osborn: it’s, but I think we have this distinction where Katherine just worries about the science, does it work and then just throws it at me and it’s like, okay, how do we, finance it and take it to the world? But I think, we are a non-profit for two reasons. One, I think, we started initially really heavily focusing on like research.
And I think a lot of that is normally funded through grant funding, but the dissemination work where we’re trying to bring the intervention to people? They’re trying to do that in a financially sustainable way. And so I think what that means for us is they, we have to, we have to one empower and motivate our lay-providers to want to do this.
And this means that, paying them, well, so that they can want to do this. And then to do that, we kind of have to have a model in which we, you know, segment our market and, like charge different. Schools, differently, depending on whether they’re a high income school, middle income school, or a low income school.
Yes. I think that’s one of the ways we are trying to achieve financial sustainability is just through like market segmentation and having some sort of a tiered structure. But we also do raise funding to support our programming. And I think we have been really lucky that so far we’ve been able to pay for our programming through donor funds.
But I think kind of like post COVID, that is not going to be really possible, and so we’re going to really have to work hard on getting schools or parents to begin also paying for this. But our hope is to do this at under $5. So I think it costs us at scale. $2 per session to do this. And I think that is going to be way cheaper than the traditional cost of therapy.
The Vision For the Road Ahead
Tony Loyd: Yeah. So what’s your vision then? Where are you going with this thing?
Tom Osborn: I think, we want to build an organization in which, like, the vision is just the collective of, all the aspirations of everyone a team. And I also personally, I love vision statements, but I also do appreciate that often vision statements are, like mall as guiding posts and lessons, things that you eventually actualize, but, I think our vision is to really contribute towards building, a society in which young people are able to really actualize the life outcomes.
We track mental health and wellbeing doesn’t stand in their way, and, I do consider myself to have been really lucky. A story I normally tell is, when I started necessary school there were 12 of us. Only two of us went to high school and I was the only one who graduated college.
And I do consider myself really lucky to have done this, but I think the reason why this was possible for me is because I had, support systems and people who were there for me and tools to really never get through important transition phases. And I think my vision for the organization is that we can also be able to use, provide similar tools to, to other young people trying to navigate navigating really difficult circumstances.
Katherine Venturo-Conerly: This is very aspirational, but at least in my mind, part of the vision is creating something that can be spread to many different countries and many different cultures around the world, and actually successfully providing some sort of care and support to ideally millions of youth in a sustainable way.
I think there’s a real need for some form of mental health support, wellbeing support that can reach a lot of people for not very much money and that people are comfortable receiving. So I’m really hoping that we can do that. It’s very aspirational though.
Tony Loyd: that’s okay. You have to have an aspiration in here somewhere.
How do Katherine and Tom Practice Self-Care?
You are entrepreneurs and we all know what that means. Like it’s crazy to be an entrepreneur. Like the things you have to think about and deal with and the plates you have to keep spinning and all that. How are you as entrepreneurs in a mental health space? How are you practicing self-care?
Katherine Venturo-Conerly: Love that question. Sometimes it is hard to do because there is a lot, there is a lot to do and things pop up all the time that you weren’t even expecting to pop up and then you need to take care of them. But I think for me, like the biggest things are like the very basic things. Sleeping.
Like I almost never compromise the amount of sleep I get. I basically always get enough sleep, even if it’s hard to do. Exercise is huge for me. Eating three meals a day. Like no matter what, even if one of those meals is like two bars that I picked up somewhere, you know, like you just have to take care of these basic needs that you have.
Also like some sort of social interaction every day with someone who ideally you’re not working with, who’s like a friend is huge as well too. I think really basic things are the things that for me, I really have to like, make sure that I do.
Tony Loyd: Tom, what are you doing?
Tom Osborn: Yeah, I think that’s also something I’ve worried about on a personal level, but also at an organizational level. Right? Because we also want to create a culture in which the people we are working with are also really, taking care of their mental health. I think for me, the answer has been, be like if I’m preaching water, drinking water.
And so, aim our interventions. We ask kids to do things like, write a gratitude letter, you know, note down things you’re grateful for, once a week, think about your values. So, I. Well I did is I just find the protocols that Katherine developed for the students. And I do the exercises that are in the protocol.
Tony Loyd: Katherine, you look very pleased. I see this. Look your face. You look very pleased at times actually
Katherine Venturo-Conerly: I am. It’s so funny. I actually didn’t realize that he was going back to the protocols and using them though. I knew that he was doing, doing some of the exercises them. So I just, I think that’s great. Yeah. I think I also use some of the stuff in the protocols too after writing them for so long and working with them for so long they’re like inside me.
So I think the biggest thing that I use is probably values. I think a lot when I have problems about like, what are my main values and how will I solve them in alignment with my values? And what actions can I take that are in line with my values?
Tony Loyd: Amazing. So I will tell you that entrepreneurs, we have a particular need for self-care because we are like, you know, I mean, everybody is carrying around all this trauma right now because of what’s happening in the world. Now take on top of that, you try to launch a business. And on top of that, you’re not just trying to launch a business.
You’re trying to launch a business. to do social good. Right? So layers upon layers upon layers of things that you’re dealing with. So that self-care is really critical.
And so if people are looking for the Shamiri Institute, where would they look?
Katherine Venturo-Conerly: I would suggest probably going to our website. And if you just search Shamiri Institute, the website should come up really quickly. That’s where you’ll find all the links to our other social media. But Tom you’re really the social media expert. So anything to add?
Tom Osborn: Yeah. So I think you can follow us. I think our handle is normally @SharmiriTeam across multiple social media sites on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. Signup for our newsletter. We have two newsletters. I think one is just a general newsletter and I also do send a newsletter every three weeks, which is kind of a most story-based newsletter.
But I think anyone could amplify our work, you know, apart from just following us on social media, you can share our work with your friends. Our materials are open source. The protocols that we’re talking about are readily available and anyone in the world can use them. And you can also support our work by making a small donation.
A Call to Action
Tony Loyd: Besides connecting with you on social media, signing up for your newsletter, or making a donation, anything else you want to leave us with a call to action? What’s something you’d love to see people go and do as a result of this conversation.
Katherine Venturo-Conerly: I think one thing that comes to mind for me is that when we were starting to do this, especially when we were starting to run an RCT as undergraduates, It seems sort of like impossible. Like it was just too big of a thing for us to do at our age. But I think, I, I think I would like people to think about ways in which they could achieve, over a long time ,goals that are really, really important to them, but seem really hard to achieve. And I think often that requires taking little tiny steps day by day and accepting that, not everything is going to go exactly how you wanted it to and be perfect, but there are probably some ways of reaching really important goals that you have over a long time with lots of effort and lots of setbacks.
If you really want, if you really want to, and you’re willing to ask for help and put a lot of time in and make your goals a little bit flexible. So that’s something I’d like people to come away with that kind of knowledge that they can do things that seem really hard overall long time if they’re flexible in their goals.
Tom Osborn: Yeah, I will leave you with something even more simpler. I think as Tony has mentioned, we kind of, all right now living with this kind of collective, almost universal trauma. Uh, ways of interacting with the world as really drastically changed. But one thing that inspires our work and that we’ve shown is simple things can really improve your mental health, how you’re feeling, how you’re doing et cetera. And so I think if there’s one thing that people can leave this conversation with is that, small things like, gratitude, journaling, like thinking about your values, like, problem solving, which are accessible which you don’t need to pay a specialist to access, which you can find online can actually have a small, but over time, really transformative impact in helping people like our interaction with the world. So I think my last word, it’s all about self-care, just do it here.
Tony Loyd: yeah, just do it. Well, there you go. You should coin that phrase. Just do it.
Katherine Venturo-Conerly: (laughs) I think it might be copyright.
Tony Loyd: Hey, Catherine and Tom, listen. Thanks so much for being with us on Social Entrepreneur.
Katherine Venturo-Conerly: Thank you.
Tom Osborn: Thank you so much for having us.