Meet Anna Tarasenko- Chief Neuroscience Officer at BrainPatch, a neurotechnology start-up that develops non-invasive solutions for mental health problems.
Anna describes herself as a neuroscientist with a deep interest in clinical psychology and a person who loves playing tanguera in the evenings. She spent the first 16 years of her life in her home country – Ukraine, where she believes her best virtues like passion, sincerity, curiosity and her worst ones like lack of self-acceptance and eagerness to achieve perfectionism were formed.
However, things didn’t go very smoothly for her as she grew up- “I was in the second year of university when I was diagnosed with depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. In Eastern Europe where I am from, mental health is largely neglected and is left unchecked. Therefore, my diagnosis was something that I myself and my family struggled to come to terms with. It was then when I became painfully aware of the severity of the problem of mental health issues in general and a complete lack of adequate treatment,” she says.
This led Anna to devote her Master’s thesis to investigating an innovative treatment for depression- non-invasive brain stimulation. During the process, she got to know about the founder of BrainPatch, Nickolai Vysokov; his vision was to use electroceuticals not just for depression but for a range of mental health conditions.
Up until the last year of her Sixth Form, she was convinced that she was going to follow a route that would lead her to Organic Chemistry. However, when I was 17, Anna read a short story by a certain Polish novelist about the life of a person who was left crippled by severe depression and unable to engage with any aspect of his life- be it family, work or social life. He was treated by a neurosurgeon who used an inserted device into the brain to restore the neurochemical balance.
After finishing the story, Anna realized that she wanted to learn how the human mind operated and how it was even possible to ‘repair’ a complex thing such as joy in one’s life through the insertion of an electrode. For her, it was both fascinating and scary.
Her organisation BrainPatch is a neurotechnology start-up that is currently dedicated to developing non-invasive solutions for mental health problems. Through non-invasive stimulation of the brain, her team aims to restore its normal functioning.
For her, the biggest challenge was being an immigrant in a new country. It was a huge problem for her to get the right to work here. Moreover, many places would not even consider her simply because she required a visa. However, with time, she managed to find a balance between her own scientific mindset and the requirements of her business.
At present, Anna’s clients widely recognize the potential of her device as the prevalence of stress and burnout rates are unprecedented. As the results are based on subjective reports, for most people it provides the desired effect.
Talking about her involvement in the company, she says- “It started because of very personal reasons- my own mental health problems- this was both a strength and a weakness. It meant that I was able to emphasize with our target population on many levels but also learn how to reflect on it deeper, talk about it in an open manner. I had to understand better my own condition, in order to be able to help the others.”
Today, Anna believes that one must not settle for a single image of themselves. One must keep re-discovering themselves ‘every single day’- just how she did.