There has never been so much talk about health as in recent years. Digital evolution, social networks and aesthetic standards has already proven how emotional and mental well-being is essential for quality of life. Then, a pandemic arrived and changed our daily routines. Two years down the road, after social isolations, working from home, and changing how we relate, we decided to discuss, once again, an extremely important topic: How is people’s mental health?
G5 Talks is a project through which business leaders exchange experiences and lessons learned with the G5 team. This time, we invited Dr. Rui Brandão, physician, with experience in Portugal, Brazil and the USA, and the CEO and Co-founder of Zenklub, an emotional health platform serving over 1.5 million individuals in Brazil.
Getting the idea off the paper
Dr. Brandão remembered the start of his career when his greatest wish was to work in Brazilian hospitals since doctors were much more needed here than in Europe. He stated how the characteristics of the Brazilian population, including the friendly communication style and cultural heterogeneity, attracted him more than the academic and hierarchical environment in Portugal.
He remembered a case of Burnout in the family, which led him to question things like: how can people not see changes in their behaviors or in others? Why does it take so long to search for professional help? “I realized this was a taboo and above all, it was due to the lack of an emotional health system. We are conditioned to go to the hospital only when we have a health problem, but never for a checkup”, he stated.
From this point, in 2016, he joined forces with a partner and founded Zenklub. Dr. Brandão also stated that “Brazilians are more open to therapy and more expansive when talking about their emotions. They are also very digitized”, all of which helped create many opportunities for the company.
Dr. Brandão talked about the evolution of the Zenklub brand and how the pandemic helped overcome many limiting beliefs, enabling the business to expand. He stated that the company is now positioning itself more as a health provider and is also working on its scalability since, with the pandemic, it experienced fast and intense growth and required the team to adapt to meet new demands. “From February to March, the number of registered professionals went from 70 to 1,000. This changed the game.”
He also commented that this scenario convinced many of those who still questioned the business model. Professionals who avoided this business model found themselves wanting to join the company and offer their services. Additionally, Brazilians are now more aware of mental health issues, which deteriorated very quickly during the health crisis in these past years.
Dr. Brandão also affirmed that the brand is currently seeking to act as a strategic partner, focusing on mental health in corporations. Certain factors, such as environmental, cultural and changes that come from inside out, can help leaders deal with this mission. “To increase how we impact individual health, and the health of society in general, we need to make environmental changes, and this involves culture. Leaders need to be prepared for this moment”, he explains.
The future of mental health
Dr. Brandão also commented that Zenklub has witnessed the growth and importance of telemedicine, which increases access to health services and can integrate additional services along a patient’s journey. He stated that mental health has always been a neglected field and believes that, as the brand becomes a key player, it can increase its bargaining power with other institutions.
He ended by stating that his lack of conformity with the world comes from “the desire to create things that matter. That is why I increasingly view mental health as part of an emotional education.”