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Our content is built through 20 years of community-based participatory research

Our content reflects our core beliefs:

  • that communication is a process, not an outcome

  • community-based listening requires a 2-way channel, with dynamic participation enabling all voices to be at the table


Examples include:

Sharpen Founder Robyn Hussa Farrell began her unique work as a public health educator in K20 institutions.  Her live arts-focused programs always included Q&A sessions with clinical professionals and individuals with lived experience discussing the difficulties of recovering from mental disorders.  The program enabled over 4,000 individuals to connect to treatment during those training sessions.  Here’s a sample of that program:

After each training Hussa would distribute post-program surveys to students, parents and educators.  She collected over 50,000 surveys from participants and compiled the 160 most commonly asked questions about mental health.  Hussa worked with researchers to continuously improve the model, which lasted 6 years.

Eventually Hussa and her husband Tim Farrell interviewed the researchers on film, along with individuals with lived experience to help answer those questions.  Those sessions led to the first long form documentary films she made on mental health topics were viewed over 1 million times in clinics, universities, and health systems.  They were also her first attempt at a new model for translating the work of researchers into practical application faster.  Here’s a sample of one of those documentaries:

Throughout her journey, Hussa worked in treatment centers as an instructor in yoga and mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR), leading workshops directly with students ages 5 and up.  This work, in combination with mental health literacy education in schools, led her to develop a peer resiliency model, listening to and working directly with thousands of adolescents.  Those collaborations led to the peer-focused video content that included mash-up campaigns on social media and multi-media blog sites.  Working with youth to help them share their stories of resilience and strength, became Hussa’s passion. 

In 2014, Hussa and Farrell relocated from New York City to Spartanburg to build and launch Sharpen.  Working in tandem with the Spartanburg Behavioral Health Task Force (a coalition of over 40 mental health agencies), the Sharpen founders began building their library of mental health and resiliency-focused educational modules using the model they developed over many years.  

Most importantly, they collaborated with all stakeholders in the community to build modular content to assist veterans, foster families, medical students, children, and more.  In all, they have used their model to build over 4000 videos and more than 600 educational modules on over 100 mental health topics. 

Perhaps most notably, the Farrells co-directed the acclaimed “Video Village” project – one of the installations within the public art project titled “Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light".

“Creating mental health videos and programs through community-based listening, leads to increased engagement and resilience. I have seen it happen consistently for 20 years and the results are powerful.”

~ Robyn Hussa Farrell, CEO




"This app is a game-changer for any parent interested in improving their own mental health or mental health and wellbeing of their children"

Paige Stephenson, President & CEO of United Way of the Piedmont


"Knowing that our students have access to a wealth of resources to support their mental health is reassuring, and also another important step we can take to reduce stigma around mental health in healthcare."

Natalie M. Fadel, PsyD
Associate Professor for Psychiatry and Neuro-Behavioral Sciences


"I'm relieved that the Sharpen resources are available to mitigate the long-term mental health risks facing our young adults"

Rahul N. Mehra, M.D. CEO, National Center for Performance Health


Demonstrated Value Through Focus Groups, Survey Data, and Real-World Results


engagement with treatment

86% engagement with mental health treatment as a result of our peer-engagement formula.


increased knowledge

90% increased knowledge in awareness of co-morbid conditions in mental health.


recommended for others

92% recommended for others (based on survey responses for 400 educators, professionals, veterans and students)

Image by Hanna Skoromna

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