Luna is an app that acts like a virtual big sister, helping teens to get answers about their bodies, their wellbeing and their lives

We’ve all heard the stories about teenagers’ crazy DIY health hacks – everything from delaying periods by drinking salt water to whitening teeth with household chemicals. Bad health advice, and simply bad advice, is out there and it’s dangerous.

And that’s where Luna came in. Founders Jas Schembri and Jo Goodall met during their MBA, and this is where the idea for an advice app had its genesis. While initial discussion centred on twentysomethings’ preoccupations, they soon zoned in on the gaps for teens. Periods seemed the obvious area of knowledge gaps, but then early research showed much more – sleep, stress, exercise, mental health – the whole baggage of issues that impact young lives.

There is, quite justifiably, alarm about the media sources some teens rely on. “It’s becoming clear that they’re misdiagnosing themselves using inaccurate information,” says Jas Schembri, who has visited many schools in the course of research and is also a school governor. “We decided to launch Luna so that teenagers can head to a place where they (and their parents) can be sure that any advice they receive is medically approved and expert led.”

“While physical health and life information issues are popular, mental health is the most popular topic”

Luna launched last November, it has a panel of experts made up of GPs, psychiatrists, and therapists. Teens can read around subjects, but also ask questions anonymously – ensuring Luna keeps up with trending health worries and more niche concerns. All answers are checked and approved by its Clinical Content Advisors.

The app is also discreet and safe – a closed community with no way for users to communicate with each other. While physical health and life information topics are popular, mental health is the most accessed area at present. Users are asking questions ranging from ‘I’m really anxious about school lately…I don’t know what to do?’ to ‘how do I tell my mum I think I may be autistic?’.

"While physical health and life information issues are popular, mental health is the most popular topic"
Teenagers may be reluctant to open up to adults they know, which is where Luna comes in

Most schools are placing wellbeing at the top of their priority list post pandemic, but there is a broader issue here – teens may be reluctant to open up to people they know about what’s really bothering them. An early survey conducted by Luna found that 86% of girls and non-binary teens worry about whether they are normal (whatever ‘normal’ is). It also found that 68% of young women still have gaps in knowledge. This suggests information traditionally provided via school and home may not always be fully understood or retained. 

Let’s face it, no one wants to admit their ignorance about something they think they should know – especially if it’s up there on the embarrassment scale. With Luna, young people can ask away in confidence, sure in the knowledge that no one is laughing, the answer is medically verified and the team have their best interests at heart. Perhaps we could all do with a trusted big sister app to help and reassure us from time to time.


Further reading: Natasha Devon on navigating teenage years