Maternal mental health and entrepreneurship: Sync NI meets Moment Health’s Nuala Murphy

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  • When it comes to female entrepreneurship, Belfast is firmly solidifying its place in the world as an example of what can be achieved. According to tech-giant Dell’s 2017 Women Entrepreneur Cities Index, Belfast beats leading business hubs across the globe such as Tokyo, Milan and Beijing. Behind these statistics are stories of women who have created successful businesses - and the story of Nuala Murphy is testament to that fact. We were fortunate to get a chat with the founder of Moment Health and leader of Belfast’s ever-growing Lean-In chapter, where we talked women’s health, and building a successful business in tandem with a social movement.

    Nuala, tell us about your business, Moment Health. What is the nature of the business, and what was your inspiration behind setting it up?

    Moment Health is a technology company focusing on providing early intervention for new and expectant parents suffering from antenatal and post natal depression and associated anxieties.

    The inspiration for the business largely came from my own experiences of anxiety during pregnancy. I received the highest quality of personal care from Dr Samina Dornan, but I realised that the early intervention I benefitted from  is not the norm.  Research shows that through early intervention, there is a 90% chance of a full recovery from mental health issues in pregnancy.

    Our approach has the potential to help thousands of new parents and reduce the impact of antenatal and postnatal mental illness on the NHS. It will also reduce costs for all healthcare providers. At the same time we want to connect all mental health care stakeholders so they can deliver practical and effective support.

    Early intervention through our Checker, Tracker, Community and Support resources is key to building your own personal support network.

    Becoming a Mum or new parent for some is a challenge, and a new way of life that can sometimes become a struggle. In the UK, 20% of women, and 10% of men suffer from depression or anxieties during this time. I was invited recently to a conference at Imperial College London on Perinatal Mental Health, and was very shocked to learn that 75% of 19-24 year-old women are developing mental ill health in pregnancy. At Moment Health we believe in early intervention – so whether you find yourself ill, or you want to keep track of your ongoing mental health, Moment Health acts as a toolkit for you.

    Nuala, tell us about your experiences with the Lean-In Regional Leadership conference - you are just back from your second conference in San Francisco. Who was there, what was it about, and what did you gain from it? 

    Started by Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, LeanIn.Org aims to empower women to achieve their ambitions. The conference is a gathering of the most active and dedicated Regional Leaders and Company Leaders around the world. At the conference we had the opportunity to network with other leaders and the LeanIn.Org Foundation team members, learn new skills and share best practices to grow and engage our circle communities.  We were 75 in total, double that of last year. 

    We had extraordinary inspirational speakers on the first day of the conference held at Stanford University.

    Dr. Jen Welter shared her amazing story. She spoke about growing up without a female role model to look up to in the world of football and coaching. Despite this, she followed her dream and played football and coached inside linebackers for Arizona Cardinals, becoming the first female coach in the NFL. Jen spoke to Lean-In members about the importance of being true to yourself; finding out what works for you, and how inspiration can be taken from anything in life - big or small.

    We also took part in a workshop called “Design Your Life”, delivered by Dave Evans, the New York Times bestselling author, Stanford lecturer, and design thinker.  The workshop helped us tackle life’s challenges and build a forward-looking path that is meaningful and fulfilling. Dave led the design of Apple’s first computer mouse - so he certainly talks from experience! He was also one of the founders behind Electronic Arts. Dave’s session was like nothing else I have ever experienced. His enthusiasm was a mile a minute, keeping up was a joy in itself. He had us working hard, tackling our ambitions, questioning our lives and asking us to design three versions of what we could be. 

    In the afternoon I delivered a session to the leaders on how to build a leadership team. The foundation wanted to showcase the successful growth of Lean-In Belfast and our partnership with Allstate NI, as part of our ALLtogetherNI campaign. The key areas of focus were on vulnerability, passion and commitment.

    On the second day of the conference, held at Survey Monkey located at One Curiosity Way, we heard from Deborah Greunfeld, Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Stanford University, where we learned about the different forms of power and leadership, and we were sent away with actionable tips on how to develop our power, using it for good.

    There were also practical sessions from industry leaders such as SurveyMonkey and LinkedIn to help us build our communities.  As if all of this wasn’t enough, next up was a talk from Meghan Rooney. Meghan spoke to us about how to tell your own story, and how to tell the story of your Lean-In chapter. She spoke from a place of great experience, given her role as the White House's first female speechwriter, writing material for POTUS Barack Obama and FLOTUS Michelle Obama, as well as Hillary Clinton. I mean, come on - was this really happening?

    The conference was rounded off with a celebratory dinner hosted by Sheryl, where we all got the chance to hang out with each other socially. Sheryl spoke honestly and candidly about the situation in Silicon Valley and across the world - the gender pay gap, equality in the workplace, the sexual harassment cases and the work that still needs done.  She is using her voice and influence for good and this is what makes her an absolutely amazing role model to us all.

     Something we have all learned from Sheryl is that success is never down to one person. Never.  There is always a team, she teaches us the importance of amplifying the work of our team and their collective dedication and she publicly celebrates her team on every occasion.  This is true leadership.

    What were your personal highlights of this year’s Lean-In Regional leadership Conference?

    This global movement is growing fast, far and wide. We are now present in 154 countries with more than 33,000 circles, small peer support groups that meet regularly to learn and grow together and 85% of our members attribute a positive change in their lives because of being part of a Lean In circle.

    The power of peer support was reinforced throughout the conference and that if you surround yourself with the right people, you can achieve anything. People join Lean In Belfast to see what they can give, and when they lean in, anything is possible; a new job, a new business, a promotion, a pay rise – the list goes on.

    On a personal note, it was great to connect with Instagram’s first Chief Operations Officer, Marne Levine - a totally amazing and accomplished woman, dedicated to Lean In’s mission. Marne and I spoke about Instagram’s mental health awareness campaign, #HereForYou and I shared Moment’s mission, naturally I was super excited about that, and I look forward to sharing our story as part of the campaign in the future. 

    I made the most of my last day and visited Facebook for a breakfast meeting with their Diversity lead followed by a quick trip to Instagram for the obligatory moving picture in the clouds.  Before I headed for the airport and my return trip home, I managed to finally meet, Northern Ireland’s very own version of Sheryl Sandberg,  Sarah Friar from Sion Mills.  Sarah is the CFO at Square, and right hand woman to Jack Dorsey, joint CEO of both Square and Twitter. I first connected with Sarah a few years ago after reading about her in the Financial Times, highlighting Square’s successful IPO in 2015, which she lead.  We had lots to talk about over brunch, and shared many thoughts on how we can help and support more female entrepreneurs in the future... come and hear for yourself at the Ormeau Baths for the inaugural “Ladies Who Launch” event on the 19th September, when I’ll be asking the questions…

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