Last month on the blog, I proclaimed my love for new mental health app, Mental Snapp. The app – that works a little like a therapist in your pocket – is an excellent (and modern!) way to keep a check on your mental health when convenience or budget may not allow you to visit an actual thearpest.

The whole idea of the app fascinated me, so of course I was ecstatic to have the chance to interview the founder, Hannah Chamberlain. I chatted to Hannah about how the app was formed, what effect the app has had on HER mental health and any future plans for Mental Snapp.

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Mental Snapp is essentially a diary, just in video form. What I’ve found, working in film in mental health for twenty years, is that people find video a very accessible form and it’s a great validator. The camera is one of our earliest relationships, when we’re born, it’s mummy, daddy, camera. So telling your story to a lens is a natural progression from writing it on paper. The video element is one of the key benefits of the app. We say that we want to help people with their confidence and to be their own best friend. Users say that it’s true – using Mental Snapp boosts them and helps them feel kinder to themselves. What’s more, an independent study by London Southbank University showed that Mental Snapp can positively affect confidence and self compassion in just two weeks. So we are hitting the targets we have set ourselves in terms of the benefits we hope to see. It’s about getting to know yourself and treating yourself more kindly.

I have worked in film and mental health all my career, and I took a break to have my son. When I came back to work, I felt so much more confident about my career, and I realised that it was because I’d got over my own self stigma, which had been holding me back personally and professionally. I decided I wanted to design a course to be taught at recovery colleges which could help other people to do the same, and of course as a filmmaker, video diaries and filmed exercises would be a massive part of it. Once I’d thought of the app it was obvious it had so many other applications, and in fact it drew together all the thoughts I’d had about the therapeutic benefits of film and telling your story in your own words. I’ve been taking Xanax (Alprazolam) because I suffered 6 months, and now found that medicine really helped me, and if I take it in the morning, not in the evening, how much time it can take to show the effect and what dosage is it better to use? The problem in mental health is that it is based on a deficit model, conventional therapy is based on what you can’t do, not what you can. We’re seeking to address that by taking back the most fundamental means of recovery – the ability to tell and record your own story, in your own words, as it makes sense to you.

We were very lucky in the process we went through to get Mental Snapp onto the App Store. I think it goes to show it was an idea whose time had come. We didn’t find it hard to raise interest and we got a couple of grants from UnLtd and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, which gave us funding to do a year of market research and co design with users, and to get the beta version on the App Store. From there, we got investment from Bethnal Green Ventures and have had a positive evaluation of the effects of using Mental Snapp by London Southbank University. We did a bunch more user testing in the autumn and got some ideas for the new version. and also won the Stelios Foundation Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs in November last year. All of this gave us the confidence – and the cash – to put the full version live on the App Store this January.

Ironically when I made my first recordings myself, just testing it out on the phone, before the app went live, they were all about confidence. I was part of an action learning group and the group had asked me ‘Where has your new found confidence come from?’. I recorded a test Mental Snapp on this which was my first recording. I’ve used this kind of idea in the on boarding process and also in the way that we introduce the concept of recording to people. It is a bit of a leap for some people, sure, and it’s not going to be for everyone. That said, everyone has a grain of confidence, and the essence of Mental Snapp is that it’s not about what you can’t do, it’s about what you can. If you tell yourself – or if you tell people – they can do it, they have strength inside themselves and it’s amazing how true that becomes. I interviewed a user on Skype last summer who said that she hadn’t been able to use Skype at all before using Mental Snapp and now she was communicating with her friends online. So the question I was asking myself ‘Where does this new found confidence come from?’ can apply to people at all stages of their Mental Snapp journey and we always want to be building people up and encouraging them to go further on their journeys.

I started to notice an effect almost straight away in terms of the relief that I felt that I was recording and making a difference. I have always found recording and telling my story important. Knowing that I have documented makes a big difference to me. However, the further benefits of feeling kinder to myself took a bit more time to develop – I would say about two weeks – but they have continued both when I have continued to use the app and even when I have taken breaks and then come back to it later. I would say that I am a very different person now to the one who made that first recording about confidence way back two years ago.

I’ve got so many plans! There are things that I want to implement myself and thoughts that our users have contributed. We have been working with an agency, General Assembly, who have interviewed users and developed a bunch of new and exciting features to help people gain better insight from the videos they make. I’d like to introduce a check in that can be done monthly or as required. There are always improvements to be made, but the most important thing is that they aren’t just coming out of thin air, we want to always be listening to and accountable to our users and how they want to use the app so that it fits into their day-to-day life and makes a big difference in helping them to actively manage their mental health.

It’s so interesting hearing about how the app was formed and about how Hannah came up for the idea for something so useful – and what better day to celebrate Hannah’s talent then on International Women’s Day?


Following my recent visits to Hard Rock Cafe London for their fashion show and their chilli menu, I mentioned how intrigued I was about the idea that they chose to include ambassadors of the brand in their fashion show, as opposed to random models.

The programme itself was created to coincide with London Fashion Week and gives up and coming models the chance to work with a big brand. As well as taking part in fashion shows, ambassadors also get invited to exclusive tasting events and in house VIP events representing the brand – how excited!
I’ve always liked Hard Rock Cafe as a brand but to be honest, this innovative idea really made me like and respect the brand even more.
Therefore, I thought it would be nice to get a little interview with one of the ambassadors, Natalie Juliet.

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First of all, can you tell me a bit about yourself Natalie?
I am 25 years old – I work full time as a model, presenter and actress. I present a radio show every weekday for 2 hours, and I act and model at every opportunity! Two days per week I attend Identity School of Acting in London: I love to read plays and learn about techniques for stage and screen acting. At the weekends I do children’s birthday party entertainment – often dressed up as Elsa from Frozen – or a superhero! When I am not working I am playing with my two dogs who are the most beautiful things in the world or planning my next ‘take over the world’ venture! I LOVE music and always have something playing, I am a ‘genre hopper’ and literally can listen to anything from Elton John to Stormzy! I absolutely love live music, and there is nowhere I would rather be than at a gig!  I love the way music can bring people together and lift my mood to make me feel empowered and motivated – I believe, from personal experience, that music has healing powers!
How did you get involved with being a Hard Rock Ambassador?
First stage was online: I applied through Starnow – a website where actors/models etc can create profiles and apply for jobs posted on there.
Second stage was a face to face meeting: this is where I really had the chance to shine – you can’t compare a paper application with a face to face meeting! Some people get hired based on their photographs alone, but I can’t see how you can really know a person and their personality just on paper!

The best thing about the audition was when they asked me to walk up and down the room as myself: I have been to a lot of auditions where they say things like “Give me more attitude”, “Can you be a bit more sassy/serious?”, “Walk faster/walk slower”, “Do this differently – do that differently”- but HRC was just “Show us how you put your own personality into your walk” – and me being me was enough!

What exactly does the role involve?

As an ambassador I am responsible for upholding the Hard Rock Cafe’s reputation at all times – through social media and in person when I am out and about! I want people to look at me when I am in the restaurants, at the events and wearing the clothes and know that I am an extension of the brand. I try at all times to represent what they stand for and act in a manner that would make anyone proud to have me in their logo!
Did you have any modelling experience prior to this role?
I have been modelling freelance for around a year and a half – and I am at the point now where I have a strong portfolio and experience behind me in both stills and video and I am looking for an agency! Wish me luck!
What’s your favourite thing about being a Hard Rock Ambassador?
I love being a part of the HRC family! I love everyone I have met along this journey and I am over the moon about being an ambassador! I take the role very seriously – it is more than just trying to sell clothes, it’s being a part of a brand. I am a puzzle piece in the wider picture that is HRC. A global brand that has chosen me to represent them in my day-to-day life – it’s an honour!

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What is it you love so much about Hard Rock and what made you want to become an ambassador for them?
I love what the brand stands for and how they are promoting individuality and bringing people together through the love of music and food! 
What are your thoughts on the fact that the brand is choosing to use ambassadors rather than models?
HRC is a brand that is all about personality – musicians put their personality into their songs and ambassadors put their personality into their modelling! A pretty face and a nice body can sell clothes – but a personality sells REAL life and REAL people – different people all wearing the same clothes, showing that the most beautiful thing about fashion is to be yourself wearing it! I am a person that goes to HRC to enjoy a burger bigger than my face, and I’ll be dancing to the music until my make up has all come off! This real life is what HRC is about. It’s about loving who you are and enjoying yourself – not taking life too seriously and being free. That’s what keeps HRC a brand for everyone to relate to – all around the world, all shapes and sizes, all races, everyone. 
What are your favourite pieces from the spring/winter line?
I love the new T-shirts for spring – as soon as the English weather permits I am going to be living in my HRC Tees! Until then, it’s going to have to be the hoodie and crop jumper to keep me warm! My favourite thing about the HRC designs is that you can pretty much pair them with anything – so the T-shirt can be with a cardigan, jeans and winter boots – or a skirt and sandals! The HRC designs make me feel like myself and that was one of the main reasons I could be so confident on the runway wearing them! And I feel that same confidence when I put them on day-to-day.
What’s next for you as an ambassador?
We have another fashion event in September which is very exciting! I can’t wait to see the new clothing lines – I know they are going to ROCK!! Until then it’s just about being active on social media and in person when wearing the clothes and going to the restaurants. I am an extension of the brand now and so when I am being seen I need to wear the logo loud and proud!
Do you have any advice for anyone hoping to become a Hard Rock Ambassador in future?
Always be yourself – don’t let the modelling industry change you, if a job is right for you then you shouldn’t have to be anything but yourself to get it! Be confident that who and what you are is more than enough – and own it! The world is your runway – so strut!!

Natalie has such a lovely confident and friendly personality that I think she’s perfect for the brand – so thank you for the interview Natalie! You can find her on twitter here or on instagram here.

You can also find me on


Yesterday I wrote a review of the fab and gripping Butterfly, by Barbara Wood, written under the name Kathryn Harvey. I absolutely loved this book so I was so ecstatic to have the chance to interview her about the story and the issues mentioned within it. I couldn’t wait to have some of my questions answered!

1. Butterfly is the ultimate story of revenge – what would you say is the best form of revenge?
Kathryn Harvey: The best form of revenge is to achieve the perfect moment and perfect means for exacting that revenge, letting the object of that revenge be well aware that you have that power over him or her, and then not going through with it.  I think that would be absolutely delicious.  And it gives one the high road, doesn’t it?
2. Have you ever gotten revenge on anyone? 
Kathryn Harvey: No, I haven’t.  While revenge works well in a novel, and can be quite satisfying, in real life revenge (and plotting it) is counterproductive.  We are on this earth with a finite amount of time.  I would not want to waste it on something as petty and fleeting and unprofitable as revenge.  Fictional characters live forever and have the luxury of using their time however they wish.
3. Butterfly can be quite racy in places – as can your book Stars which is previewed at the back. Along with other books, women’s erotica is becoming more and more popular. Why do you think this is? 
Kathryn Harvey: I think it’s because women are finally allowed to read such books.  Yes, allowed.  We have come a long way from the days when ladies had to retire to another room after dinner while the men drank whiskey and smoked cigars and no doubt talked about sex and taboo subjects.  Despite Women’s Lib back in the seventies, a lot of old standards have stayed with us.  It was “unseemly” for women to read erotica, or even to want to!  There was very little available back then.  The double standard held.  But times are changing, and the younger generation of women is more open and vocal about what they want.  I love it!
4. Do you think it is causing women to become more open minded – both in the bedroom and in terms of their reading material? 
Kathryn Harvey: Definitely.  As I stated above, the old standards are being shattered every day.  There was a time when the word “vagina” was whispered.  Old taboos are going the way of the whale-bone corset.
5. When reading Butterfly, I immediately picked up on some of the underlining issues drawn upon such as neglect, rejection and self-esteem. What are some other issues you’ve written into the book? 
Kathryn Harvey: Self-reliance, courage, and the power of Sisterhood.
6. When creating characters for Butterfly, did you base any of their qualities – or the characters as a whole – on yourself or on anyone you knew? 
Kathryn Harvey: I based Beverly Highland on myself – or rather, the heroic woman I wish I could be.  She is my personal fantasy.  I would like to think that if I went through what she did, I would have the chutzpah to launch her plan of revenge and have the courage and strength of will to stick with it and carry it out.  I’m not sure I could!  Trudie is based on a dear friend and she sees herself in there.  The others are amalgams of ladies that I know or have met. 
7. Within the story you addressed the two very different sides of prostitution – the darker side where girls were forced into unsafe sex and living in horrible conditions – and at the other end of the spectrum, a more upper class, glamorous, exclusive and very safe side of it. Did you feel that it was necessary to explore both sides of paying for sex? 
Kathryn Harvey: When it comes to sex for sale, all you hear about is the men’s side of it (and by the way, prostitution is NOT the oldest profession, but that’s for another book).  When you do hear about women paying for sex, it’s in a sad and pathetic way, like lonely women hiring handsome gigolos to escort them places.  Since I wanted to show what women really want and what they can really achieve when they put their minds and their libidos together (honestly, men’s whorehouses are SO unimaginative!), I needed to contrast it with the profession as it has been known for centuries.  I’m kind of asking the reader: which would YOU prefer?
8. I noticed that the darker side of prostitution was generally dominated by men – men were the ones paying for sex and also the ones finding girls and taking advantage of them, forcing them into prostitution. But women were the ones who later on paid for sex in a much more safer and exclusive way – as well as women being the ones who launched the business idea. Is there a particular reason why you had women portrayed as the ones to go about with paying for sex in a more glamorous way, as opposed to men kind of doing the opposite? 
Kathryn Harvey: Let’s face it, men and women are definitely wired differently.  Men are very basic when it comes to sex.  Women want more.  This is why Butterfly is about costumes, characters, storylines – the patrons of the private establishment can request elaborate fantasies, or simple sexual encounters – in other words, Butterfly caters to every taste.  For the most part, women aren’t as basic as men when it comes to sex.  We tend to like interesting settings and men who are more characters than just men (e.g. a swashbuckling pirate or a dusty cowboy).  In other words, exotic sexual encounters that we would never encounter in our daily lives.  Something to transport us to another world.  It isn’t just about orgasm.
9. We don’t often think of women being the ones to pay for sex – is this something you particularly wanted to bring up in the story? 
Kathryn Harvey: I don’t think of the members of Butterfly as paying for sex per se.  It’s the ambience, the settings, the costumes, paying for a safe and discreet environment and the guarantee of having a sexual partner who won’t suddenly turn into a creep or a murderer.  Men don’t mind sex in the backseat of a car.  Women like fantasy and role-playing.  That can be costly.
10. Do you personally feel that somewhere like Butterfly should – if it doesn’t already! – exist? For example, do you think it’s necessary to have a more safe way to do this, since the wrong way like sex trafficking and girls being forced into it exists anyway? Or do you feel it will only add to the problem?
Kathryn Harvey: I have always thought prostitution should be legalized.  Unfortunately, the trafficking in girls who are kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery has existed for millennia and I doubt will go away soon.  But I think we are talking apples and oranges here.  That awful trade has to do with a more sinister and darker side of the human psyche whereas an establishment like Butterfly is about free-will and the exploration of human pleasure between willing participants.
11. What gave you inspiration for this story? 
Kathryn Harvey: The idea for my book came from a board game friends and I had invented for our personal amusement.  We designed a board with squares, we had little movers, we rolled dice and we drew cards.  The game was about women’s sexual fantasies, and we each contributed fantasies on the cards, plus “men.”(mostly in the form of movie stars).  Some of the fantasies were basic, but most were elaborate and sounded like romance novels.  One evening in the middle of a game, one of my friends said, “How come men have such easy access to sex?  They can buy it whenever they want.  But what’s out there for women?”  Another player said, “Wow, a really neat bordello for women.”  And I added, “I’d be there in a flash.”  Mind you, we were all happily married and just speculating.  But the idea had been planted.
12. How long did it take for you to write it? 
Kathryn Harvey: Eight weeks.  I was very inspired!
13. Finally, what advice or tips would you give to other writers? 
Kathryn Harvey: To aspiring writers I say just do it.  Sit down and write one page a day and at the end of the year you have a novel.  Don’t let anyone discourage you or say it can’t be done.  And don’t spend a lot of time sitting in classes on creative writing, or going to those expensive writing weekends.  Just do it.  And to established writers interested in getting into erotica, I say don’t get overly anatomical and think it’s sexy.  Remember that the brain is just as powerful a sex organ as those others.  So leave a few things out for the reader to fill in.  Leave something to the imagination.  Not all women like to read graphic or explicit sex scenes.  For many, it can be a turn-off.

A big thanks to Barbara/Kathryn for answering my questions, all of which were extremely interesting and made me realize even more issues addressed in the story! Butterfly can be purchased on Amazon or other popular book retailers and you can find out more about Barbara Wood and her books here.