I’m Doug Kaufman, CEO and founder of Nika. My wife, Heather, and I are the proud parents of a beautiful, smart, and loving 15-year old daughter. Soon after turning 13, we noticed a change in our daughter’s behavior. She became more distant, emotional, and unhappy. Knowing that teen years can be difficult, we decided to be patient and supportive, and give her some additional time and space.
It turns out that something was wrong. Our daughter had begun self-harming as a way to cope with painful feelings. We found out our daughter was part of a group text with friends who were going through similar feelings of sadness and anxiety. In an effort to support each other, they escalated into self-harming as a coping mechanism. Although we were devastated, we had no time to waste - we moved quickly to help and support her.
As I reflected on this experience, I wondered how we missed the early warning signs. Our daughter was in so much pain and needed our support. It’s especially puzzling when you consider our situation - we have one child, Heather is a stay-at-home mom, I have a PhD in Psychology, and we’ve done everything we can to create a loving, supportive environment for our daughter. I wondered, what chance do any of us parents have to accurately identify when our kids are on a bad path before things get out of control? I knew I had to do something to help parents and kids.
As I researched and spoke with hundreds of parents it became clear that not only was our situation common, but we are in the midst of a mental and behavioral health epidemic for adolescents.
That’s why Nika exists. We’re passionate about helping kids become the most healthy versions of themselves, mentally and behaviorally, and providing families with the resources to help kids thrive. We’re creating technology to identify any issues as early as possible, and providing support to families as needed.
Dr. Doug Kaufman