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The Hug Spotlight is on Jo Howarth of The Happiness Club

Tell us more about you Jo; Is there a story behind how and why The Happiness Club started?

I’m a mummy first and foremost, of two beautiful girls, two gorgeous cats and one unbelievably cute puppy. I’m married to Trev, I’m originally from Somerset but moved up to Liverpool to go to university when I was 19 and 30 years later I’m still here.

I had my first experience of therapy at the age of 25 when my biological dad dropped dead of a sudden heart attack at the age of 50. It turned my world upside down and inside out. My parents had split when I was 5 years old and my home life/childhood had been somewhat turbulent from then on. I didn’t realise that a lot of the things I experienced when I was a child weren’t entirely normal, until I went to therapy. It opened my eyes to a whole new world and a whole new way of living. I’ve been on a personal development journey ever since.

By trade I am an advanced hypnotherapist and a mindfulness practitioner – I trained in both of those practices when I had my two girls and gave up my corporate “grown up” job. They helped me to come out the other side of my own stress, anxiety and limiting beliefs about myself so it was a no brainer to train in them.

But I kept getting requests from people who wanted to work with me but lived too far away or couldn’t afford to pay and my one to one clients would say they wished they could take me home with them, keep me in their pocket for when they might need me in-between their sessions. I remembered feeling that way about my own therapist.

So I sat and thought about how I could solve all those issues and The Happiness Club was born. It’s an affordable way to have daily support for your mental health and wellbeing. There are a ton of resources on the app that you can work through in your own time but you also have 24/7 access to a team of qualified therapists whenever you need us.

Who makes up the team at The Happiness Club? What brought everyone together?

Well there’s me, obviously, the founder and managing director. I am supported by an amazing admin team headed up by Kylie Jones, my PA, and Tina Towers, our membership manager.

Then there’s our therapy team who have a wealth of experience between them and are trained in a variety of modalities, from hypnotherapy to mindfulness to cbt and tapping. We have 4 mental wellbeing therapists and 2 physical wellbeing therapists, a personal trainer and an osteopath.

And then we have The Happiness Club Trainers, all of whom have trained with me to deliver our range of corporate and educational programmes. We currently have 13 trainers in the UK with another 8 in training plus a qualified trainer in Mexico and another in New Zealand. World domination is on the cards!

Everyone on the team has experienced some form of mental health issue, be it anxiety or depression or stress or trauma. We are all united in our wish to help other people.

What makes The Happiness Club unique? We have not heard about anything similar; it looks amazing!

It is amazing! I think the thing that makes the club unique is our daily strategies. Every day the members receive a short video and piece of writing asking them to focus on something specific just for that day. It might be a story about one of our lives that has taught us something worth sharing or it might be a straightforward mindfulness technique to have a go at. But it’s something every day, to remind the members that they are not alone, that we are here for them, that we are all on this journey through life together and that help is always available.

Have you been through times in your life where you wish there had been a “Happiness Club” for you to get help?

Yes definitely, that’s a large part of the reason why the club exists. When I was having therapy I would have this amazing hour every week with this amazing man who helped me so much to sort out what was happening in my mind. But then I would have to leave his office and go out into the big wide world and manage all by myself for a whole WEEK! Believe me, sometimes that is really hard, sometimes I would be clawing at the walls to get to my next session. So when my clients started making comments about wanting to take me home with them to always have me close by I knew I had to find a solution, a way for them to have me in their pockets without me actually having to leave my own family lol.

There has been a lot of talk around mental health over the last few years and especially in the last year with the pandemic. What are your thoughts on this?

I love that the conversation is opening up around mental health and wellbeing. We need to remove the barriers to people having those conversations. It is likely that most people will experience some kind of struggle with their mental health at some point in their life so it’s vital that we feel able to talk about what’s happening and how we are feeling.

In my opinion we were already facing a mental health crisis and the pandemic has really highlighted that, acted as a catalyst to it if you will. It has sped up the conversations but also brought to light just how many people are suffering.

How should people make initial contact with you?

The best way is by email: [email protected] I check my emails every day and I’m always happy to have a chat if I can help.

What changes have you seen since Covid19 hit in 2020… increase in number of people coming to you etc?

There’s been a definite increase in the number of people reaching out and seeking help. The membership numbers of the club have more than tripled since the first lockdown in the UK.

What can someone expect to happen when they join The Happiness Club?

They can expect to find a caring community of people who are all experiencing similar things to them, they can expect to feel looked after. I very much see the club as me putting my arms around the members every day and saying “it’s ok, I’ve got you, you’re safe here”

Do you think that some people will struggle with certain issues when we come out of lockdown… anxiety around social interaction etc?

Definitely, we’re already seeing that happen I think. There was increased anxiety when we went into lockdown and there will be increased anxiety coming out of it.

Do you have any success stories you would like to share with The Group Hug community?

So many. My two favourites are the 14 year old girl who had anxiety to such an extent that she couldn’t leave her bedroom, let alone go to school We worked together through one to one sessions and through membership of The Happiness Club For Young Adults and within a couple of months she was happily sitting in her classroom texting me to tell me she had been there all day (although I’m not sure she should have been texting me from school lol).

The second one is a lady who joined the club and then reached out to our therapy team to let us know she was feeling suicidal. I’m so proud of the way the team helped and supported her. She has now been a member of the club for about two years and her life gets better every day.

We see you have a STORE on your site. What are your favourite products? (We LOVE the smiley face coaster)

We do have a store! It’s a relatively new addition to our offering. My favourite product is the affirmation ring. I designed it myself because I wanted one, it has the words “more than enough” engraved on the inside so that when you wear it you are the only person who knows those words are there. I worked with a local jeweller to design the ring and then loved it so much we added it to our product range.

Do you have a success story for us? Or a great review?

From a business perspective my biggest achievement so far is being the Runner Up in the category of Entrepreneur of the Year in the 2020 North West Business Awards. I was the only female finalist, next year I will win.

One of my favourite testimonials is:

For years and years this anxiety has had such a hold on me. I can’t thank you enough for all the support in The Happiness Club. It’s literally my go to every day, it’s so nice to be able to go onto the app, it’s like my safe place, I feel so much warmth from it. I am definitely so glad I reached out to you, the best thing is there is no judgement, just understanding from every aspect, I love it so much

Is there anything else you would like to add?

My personal specialisms are stress and anxiety, they are where I come from, so I understand them and how to come out the other side of them. But the team between us has such a depth of experience and knowledge.

What’s your favourite positive quote?

I have two:

Life is not the way it’s supposed to be, it is the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference”

Virginia Satir

And

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Dr Seuss

Contact Jo Howarth of The Happiness Club HERE

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