As we know, drug addiction and mental health are issues affecting so many across our communities. Yet so many aren’t getting the help they need. Personal struggles are just that – personal – and the prevalent types of treatment available today don’t work for many.
Being able to pick a treatment you feel comfortable with, are willing to try, and are confident will make a difference are fundamental aspects of long-term success. A new app-based approach, HereNOW Help, is a revolutionary way that people are finding gets them the help they need, when and where they need it.
HereNow Help, Inc. was founded by Bill Gerlach as the answer to his own personal struggle with addiction. Originally from Rochester, New York, Gerlach grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC. He enjoyed sports and traveled throughout the world with his family. He graduated from West Virginia University and after college, enjoyed a successful sales career in the healthcare industry working for Millennium Health. His successes propelled him to Vice President of Business Development for Gulfstream Diagnostics and then to Precision Health Resources. It sounds like a typical story of American success, but behind the facade was a deeper and darker reality.
At the top of his game, in 2012, Gerlach was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) that left parts of his body in excruciating pain. He was prescribed significant quantities of opioids for the pain, leading to a five-year battle with addiction and leaving him feeling isolated and without hope. He found it hard to get help, worried if people found out his career would be over. Here was someone working in healthcare who was now addicted to pain medication.
Sadly, during this same period, Gerlach’s best friend and younger brother, Derek, was also dealing with his own demons of opioid addiction, refusing any kind of help. Also in a professional career, he was ashamed and embarrassed to admit his disease, preferring to manage his addiction on his own.
Two brothers – both struggling with addiction – one pursuing traditional means of support and the other struggling on his own; neither felt confident in the current system of available treatment. Until, in late 2018, Bill came up with an idea. While trying to get an Uber ride, two questions dawned on him, why is it so easy to get a ride to anywhere, yet so difficult to find help when struggling with addiction or mental health problems? What if you could find the care you need as easily as finding a Uber driver?
This was the spark for HereNOW Help, an app that provides the first step for those trying to reach recovery or mental health support. In early 2019, with the help of his mother, uncle, brother, Derek, and other family members, they began planning.
In July, through a friend, Bill met Bryan Gray, a successful businessman who has helped launch several app-based businesses. Bryan quickly realized the potential of such a tool to radically improve the way to help people and joined the team. He then brought on his friend and business partner, Lester Leong, an expert in app development, completing the HereNOW Help team.
Tragically, in August 2019, Derek Gerlach died of a drug overdose. This loss brought a sense of urgency to the team to bring the app to market as quickly as possible. With Lester’s technical leadership and team members contributing feature ideas, a beta version was developed. Soon, the company had its first client, a Rehab center based in Maryland; a partner who has helped shape the first version of the app.
Now launched, HereNOW Help app has two apps for both iOS and Android plus an administrator dashboard for management, data analysis, database, and healthcare integration. There is one app for providers that enables real-time communication and recovery support/tracking. The other app is a partner app for clients both in and out of treatment. The client app allows those in recovery to set goals, journal, answer surveys, set high-risk areas to avoid, get virtual professional therapy or peer-to-peer support and so much more. Soon the company will be releasing it’s third app dedicated to family and friends who are supporting those in recovery.
For the time being, HereNOW Help is primarily used for Rehabilitation Centers and Government programs (state and local). The company offers peer specialist training to help communities build strong support resources and create well-paying jobs. In 2021, the company will launch its open platform version of HereNOW Help, providing “an Uber for mental health.”
Like UberX, XL and Select HereNOW Help’s open platform provides tiered mental health support using certified peer specialists and licensed mental health counselors and professionals 24/7/365 through talk, text, video chat and on-demand in-person meetings. It creates a new first step in recovery, instead of having to check into a rehab facility, which can be scary for some people. Gerlach says, “With this version of the app you don’t have to stop everything in your life, you can take it at the pace you need.” This is a helpful approach for those who don’t feel ready to go to rehab or doctors.
The HereNOW Help team is dedicated to the principle of openly addressing addiction and mental health issues. People shouldn’t be ashamed to talk about addiction or their experiences. Bill said, “Addressing my addiction was the hardest thing that I’ve ever gone through in my life. If you can get through addiction you can get through anything and if we can be a part of helping people do that, then we’ve done something truly worthwhile.”
His advice to anyone starting their journey in sobriety, he admits to sounding a bit cliche, but it worked for him, “It’s one day at a time, and no two days are the same. Every day that you move forward you’re bettering yourself, you’re bettering the life around you and the sky is opening up.”
To learn more about HereNOW Help and how you can get involved visit, www.HereNOWHelp.com.