Meditation Apps Want Us to Chill Out. Musicians Are Happy to Help.

Music and mindfulness have become increasingly linked during the pandemic, and artists like Erykah Badu, Grimes and Arcade Fire are teaming with tech companies to make it happen.

#anxiety-and-stress, #badu-erykah, #calm-com-inc, #computers-and-the-internet, #endel-sound-gmbh, #headspace-inc, #legend-john, #meditation, #mobile-applications, #music, #quarantine-life-and-culture


Wellness Challenge: A Guide to Meditation for Resilience

Day 3: Try a Fierce Meditation

#content-type-service, #meditation


Meet the Nun Who Wants You to Remember You Will Die

Suffering and death are facts of life: “Everyone dies, their bodies rot, and every face becomes a skull.”

#content-type-personal-profile, #meditation, #nuns, #prayers-and-prayer-books, #roman-catholic-church, #sister-theresa-aletheia-noble


ifeel, another well-being platform that blends self-care tools with 1-2-1 therapy, scores $6.6M

If the pandemic has been good for anything it’s been good for the therapy business and for startups targeting mental health, with VCs kept very busy signing checks. To wit, here’s another one: Madrid-based ifeel has bagged €5.5 million (~$6.6M) in Series A funding, led by Nauta Capital.

The startup was founded back in 2017 — initially as a consumer-focused therapy platform — but last year it pivoted to a hybrid business model, tapping into demand from businesses to offer staff emotional support during the public health crisis. So it’s available both to individuals via monthly subscription or as part of employer’s or insurance provider’s cover

It says that pandemic pivot has resulted in 1,000% growth in its b2b business.

Companies it’s signed up to offer its platform to their staff include AXA Partners, Glovo and Gympass.

“We have a total of 400K users on the platform (b2c and b2b),” says co-founder Amir Kaplan. “We have 100,000 eligible covered who have access to ifeel as a benefit (through our insurance and wellness partners or direct with ifeel).

“The 100K grew 10x from September 2020 and is the largest trend we are experiencing these days. Employees of 100 companies use ifeel on a weekly basis.”

ifeel’s platform delivers both live therapy sessions with licensed psychologists but also provides users with self-care tool such as daily mood trackers, recommended exercises and activities to expand the support available.

“By combining self-care and guided therapies, ifeel maximises engagement and retention of its users — with 90% reporting improved emotional and mental well-being after using ifeel,” it claims.

The startup is using AI technology in the self-care portion of its platform — to recommend “the most relevant” content or exercise to its users, per Kaplan. But he also says it’s looking at using the tech to assist the therapist practice by developing dedicated tools inside the platform.

ifeel has an international founding team, hailing from three countries (Israel, Italy and Mexico), and says its main markets so far are Spain, France, Brazil and Mexico. While its b2b and insurance network coverage extends to 20 countries and four languages (English, Spanish, French and Portuguese).

With so much competition in the mental health tools space — from mindfulness apps, to internet-delivered CBT programs, to therapy platforms — how does ifeel see itself standing out?

Kaplan suggests it has an advantage of being “global from day one”, and also flags a “strong technology integration focus” which he says has allowed it to plug into insurance companies and wellness players — to become a “main service provider”.

“Very early we partnered with global leading companies and we support them in many countries (compared to specific country players like in Germany and UK,” he tells TechCrunch. “The platform approach is different from ‘online therapy’ companies or ‘mindfulness apps’.

“We want our users to manage their emotional well being on our platform no matter the need. In this way we create millions of engagement events that are customized to the user’s needs and allow users over time to use different parts of our platform in different life situations.”

#brazil, #europe, #france, #fundings-exits, #germany, #health, #ifeel, #insurance, #israel, #italy, #madrid, #meditation, #mental-health, #mexico, #mindfulness, #nauta-capital, #online-therapy, #self-care, #spain, #therapist, #therapy, #united-kingdom


The Importance of Routines, Even Interrupted by a Pandemic

By setting routines for myself, I was able to shield myself from chaos. Then the pandemic happened. I set out to get them back on track.

#anxiety-and-stress, #depression-mental, #layoffs-and-job-reductions, #meditation, #mental-health-and-disorders, #quarantine-life-and-culture


Gearing Up for the ‘New Normal’

In “The New Normal,” Dr. Jennifer Ashton explores the mental health repercussions of the pandemic and ways to rebuild our overall health.

#anxiety-and-stress, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #loneliness, #meditation, #mental-health-and-disorders, #parenting, #post-traumatic-stress-disorder, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #weight


Chorus brings a social layer to meditation

Chorus launched its online experience on March 16 of last year. It was fairly auspicious timing, as those things go, falling the same day seven public health departments launched a joint shelter-in-place order in its native California.

Like countless other companies, 2020 didn’t go according to plan for the meditation app. But the site scrambled to pivot the company’s “experiential” hybrid of in-person classes to a fully virtual interface, and ultimately it may be all the better for it.

Certainly there’s no shortage of meditation apps from which to choose. Calm and Headspace top the list, but the mindfulness category has proven to be an extremely popular one, as users look to technology to help alleviate some of the stresses for which it has been directly responsible.

But meditation is hard. It’s hard to start and it’s hard to maintain. Some apps do a better job than others of guiding a user through that process, but it can still feel like a solitary experience — one of many reasons people abandon practices before they’re able to start seeing the benefits.

Chorus was already seeing success with its early in-person events. “We thought that had to be the on-ramp for most users because it provided the most immersive first experience,” co-founder and CEO Ali Abramovitz tells TechCrunch. “We ran in-person pop-ups in San Francisco.”

The company also managed to raise a pre-seed round of around $1 million. More recently, the company has received additional funding as part of Y Combinator’s Winter 2021 batch of startups.

An official app is still forthcoming. For now, the experience uses a web portal for signups, while the actual classes are conducted live over Zoom and archived for on-demand viewing. It’s similar to the setup many gyms and personal trainers have utilized during the pandemic. And while it’s not the most sophisticated, Abramovitz says Chorus currently has user numbers in the “hundreds,” largely by word of mouth, while not disclosing the actual figure.

Among those, around two-thirds are classified as “highly engaged,” which means they attend an average of a class every other day. The service draws people in with breathing exercises based on popular songs and keeps users engaged by offering a more communal experience than most meditation apps.

“The problem we’re solving is two parts,” says Abramovitz. “Originally we thought we were designing a new meditation experience specifically for people who found meditation challenging. What we’ve learned, after seeing our customers stay after class and talk to each other, is what keeps people coming back is a new way to connect with themselves and each other.”

The experience is kind of a virtual approximation of the experience you would get in an in-person class — namely the sorts of engagements you would get with fellow attendees after the class. In an era of social isolation, it’s clear why users would be particularly engaged with that aspect.

As for what that experience will look like in a post-pandemic world, the company plans to continue to adapt to meet users’ needs.

“We’re fundamentally an experience company,” says Abramovitz. “We’re a meditation experience company for people who found traditional meditation challenging. That is our core. We will deliver that over whatever platform or channel provides the best experience for our community. Right now that’s an app. In the future, it could be hardware devices like VR or strategic studios like Peloton has for the community. But right now, we’re focused on the digital experience.”

#apps, #chorus, #meditation, #y-combinator, #yc


The Soothing, Digital Rooms of YouTube

Ambience videos pair relaxing soundscapes with animated scenery to make viewers feel immersed in specific spaces, like a cozy library. They’re big with “Harry Potter” fans.

#art, #harry-potter-fictional-character, #meditation, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #rain, #video-recordings-downloads-and-streaming, #your-feed-selfcare


Why Kevin Hart Obsesses Over Skin Care

Here’s what his grooming and wellness routine looks like.

#content-type-personal-profile, #cosmetics-and-toiletries, #exercise, #hart-kevin, #meditation, #skin


To Create a Healthy Habit, Find an Accountability Buddy

Whether it’s a person or an app that sends us reminders, we make better choices when we’re being watched (even by ourselves.)

#content-type-service, #diet-and-nutrition, #exercise, #habits-and-routines-behavior, #meditation, #mobile-applications, #obesity, #social-media, #wearable-computing, #weight


How a Zen Buddhist Monk and Hospital Chaplain Spends His Sundays

To care for Covid-19 patients and their families, Seigan Ed Glassing reserves one day of the week to care for himself.

#chaplains, #content-type-personal-profile, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #glassing-seigan-ed, #grief-emotion, #inwood-hill-park-manhattan-ny, #meditation, #new-york-presbyterian-hospital


This Is Your Skin on Stress

Psychological strain can show up as “stress skin.” Treating it is easier (and more affordable) than you think.

#antioxidants, #anxiety-and-stress, #content-type-service, #cortisol-hormone, #meditation, #microbiology, #skin


Alicia Keys Figures Out Her Skin

The singer-songwriter talks about finding her rituals (and learning how to deal with carbs).

#content-type-personal-profile, #cosmetics-and-toiletries, #exercise, #keys-soulcare-elf-cosmetics-inc, #keys-alicia, #meditation, #music, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #skin


Hermits Teach About Solitude, Loneliness, Isolation

Contemporary hermits are reaching out to people struggling with isolation. Their message: Go inward, and get outside.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #loneliness, #meditation, #prayers-and-prayer-books, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #your-feed-selfcare


Calm’s hilarious CNN ad campaign sent the meditation app flying up App Store charts

Meditation app Calm’s brilliant and hilarious marketing campaign that saw it sponsoring CNN’s coverage of the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election results this week seems to have paid off for the business. The app, which today offers mindful meditations, peaceful sounds and sleep stories, had flashed on screen during CNN’s “Key Race Alert” coverage, reminding users of the need to relax during this stressful time.

According to data from third-party app store analytics and marketing firms, Sensor Tower and App Annie, these CNN advertisements appear to have helped substantially boost Calm’s downloads (as determined by the app’s chart rankings.)

On iPhone in the U.S., App Annie says Calm moved up 20 ranks from the day before Election Day to reach No. 79 Overall across both apps and games in the U.S. It also reached No. 1 in the U.S. Health & Fitness category.

Image Credits: App Annie

Meanwhile, Sensor Tower found that the app moved up again on Nov. 4, climbing 51 spots to reach No. 68 among the top free iPhone apps on the U.S. App Store.

The firm notes this is the highest the app has ranked since July 21, when it hit No. 60 — a jump that was likely boosted by the release of the Harry Styles’ Sleep Story. While Calm did add another new Sleep Story on Oct. 30, it didn’t appear to have an impact the way that Styles’ Story had, Sensor Tower said.

A spokesperson for Calm explained the company’s decision to run the CNN ad campaign was about associating its brand with the anxiety that its meditations and relaxing sounds help to address.

“We understand the uncertainty of this election cycle can be a source of anxiety for many of us, especially as it coincides with an ongoing pandemic,” the spokesperson said. “Our goal during CNN’s Key Race Alerts was to provide viewers a moment of Calm, and a reminder to take a deep breath during a stressful night,” they added.

The company declined to confirm the third-party estimates, however.

Overall, the CNN ad campaign worked for Calm because it was almost a troll on how stressed people have been this week as election results poured in — and particularly by CNN’s “Key Race Alert” music that plays when there’s an important update.

Simply put, most people found Calm’s ad funny.


In addition to running ads on CNN, Calm launched a refreshed resource hub with free mindfulness tools, including Sleep Stories, meditations, music and other mindfulness content ahead of the elections.

And just ahead of Nov. 3, it partnered with mobile news organization NowThis to create a soothing livestream that ran on NowThis’ Facebook and YouTube pages on Nov. 3 through Nov. 4.

Outside of its CNN sponsorship, Calm has been working to capitalize on increased TV viewing around the election to gain attention for its anxiety-reducing resources, as well.

According to data from, reported by AdAge, Calm’s app saw 66 million total impressions from Oct. 31 through Nov. 3, with 11 million on Election Day alone. And over the last 30 days, Calm saw 241.7 million TV ad impressions, valued at $1.4 million.

In addition to CNN, the company ran Election Day ads on MSNBC, E!, HGTV, IFC, Freeform, the Discovery Family Channel and the Discovery Life Channel, the report said.

#app-store, #apps, #calm, #cnn, #meditation, #mindfulness, #presidential-election, #tc


Peak Anxiety? Here Are 10 Ways to Calm Down

If the one-two punch of pandemic stress and election stress feels like more than you can handle, try these tips to help you cope.

#anxiety-and-stress, #aromatherapy, #content-type-service, #cortisol-hormone, #meditation, #mental-health-and-disorders, #psychology-and-psychologists


Chill Vibes, Minus the Wind Chimes: It’s a New Day for New Age Music

A genre known for cheesiness is thriving once again in Los Angeles, taking root on the label Leaving Records.

#ardizoni-olive, #dang-ami, #dompe-diva, #galdre-visions, #hunter-nailah, #leaving-records-record-label, #los-angeles-calif, #mcqueen-matthew, #meditation, #music


I Learned This Stress-Management Trick When I Was 3

It soothes me. Makes me more present, less anxious. And it just feels good.

#children-and-childhood, #dreams, #meditation, #sleep


MindLabs raises £1.4 million for its new platform, a “Peloton for mental health”

Ideally, mental wellness should be considered part of a healthy daily routine, like exercise. But even exercise is difficult to turn into a regular habit. Peloton addressed physical fitness by combining smart stationary bikes with live classes and community features to create an engaging experience. Now a new startup, MindLabs, is taking a similar approach to mental wellness.

Based in London, MindLabs announced today it has raised £1.4 million (about USD $1.82 million) in pre-seed investment led by Passion Capital, with participation from SeedCamp, as well as several founders of British consumer tech startups: Alex Chesterman (Cazoo and Zoopla); Neil Hutchinson (Forward Internet Group); Steve Pankhurst (FriendsReunited); James Hind (Carwow); and Jack Tang (Urban).

MindLabs was founded earlier this year by Adnan Ebrahim and Gabor Szedlak, who previously launched and ran Car Throttle, an online media and community startup that was acquired by Dennis Publishing last year. Ebrahim told TechCrunch that MindLabs’ goal is to “make taking care of your mental health as normal as going to the gym.”

Its platform will launch next year, first with a mobile app that combines live videos from mental health professionals who lead meditation and mindfulness sessions, and features to help users track their stress levels. The full platform will also include an EEG headband, called “Halo,” that measures signals, like heart and respiration rates, that can help show users how effective their sessions are.

Going from CarThrottle, sometimes described as “a BuzzFeed for cars” to mental wellness might seem like a big leap, but Ebrahim said their experience “running a media company in a tough market with a young, millennial workforce” inspired him and Szedlak to think more about the issue.

MindLabs founders Gabor Szedlak and Adnan Ebrahim

MindLabs founders Gabor Szedlak and Adnan Ebrahim

“We witnessed firsthand how there was a complete lack of investment in helping this generation with their mental health in a way that they’re used to: a community product that is mobile-first and video-led,” Ebrahim said.

“Alongside that, we had to find ways to deal with managing our own mental health given the stresses that can come when running a fast-paced, venture-backed company. And when we saw the alarming statistics in young adult suicide rates and depression, we realized that finding a solution for our own problems would help millions of others, too.”

The two left Dennis Publishing to begin work on MindLabs at the end of January. During the next few months, including time spent in COVID-19 lockdown, they began researching and developing initial concepts for the platform.

“It’s fair to say that the pandemic did end up altering the course of MindLabs,” Ebrahim said. “For example, we built more real-time community features into the app as a result of the isolation and loneliness we are all now facing as a result of lockdown. We really want to make sufferers feel less alone during the hard times, but with the added convenience now of being able to watch our videos at home.

“This has already become the new normal when it comes to physical fitness, with companies like Peloton exploding in growth, and we see the same trend happening with mental wellness, too,” he added.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also been described as a mental health crisis, and downloads of meditation and mindfulness apps like Calm, Headspace and Relax: Master Your Destiny, have grown as people try to deal with anxiety, isolation and depression at home.

Two of the main ways MindLabs’ platform differentiates from other mental wellness apps is the combination of its video classes and EEG headband. The videos will initially range in length from 10 to 40 minutes and, like Peloton’s classes, will be available on livestream or in pre-recorded, on-demand sessions.

Instead of categorizing videos by technique (for example, meditation, breathing or visualization), MindLabs decided to sort them into issues that users want to cope with, like anxiety, relationships, motivation or addiction. For example, meditation classes may include ones focused on “Overcoming COVID-19 Anxiety” or “Coping With Stress At Work.”

Community features will be linked to the classes: the number of concurrent users in a class will be displayed, along with a live feed showing subscriber achievements, like streaks or number of minutes spent in a “calm state,” that other people can react to for positive reinforcement.

Halo was developed with a hardware specialist that Ebrahim said has seven years of building and distributing medical grade wearables.

“Most importantly our headset will be going through the rigor of ISO 13485 so we can ensure the product is of the highest quality and the data we gather is the most accurate,” he added. “We want to make this technology accessible, so we expect the price of the Halo to be comparable to, say, an Apple Watch.”

Other EEG headbands, including products from Muse and Emotiv, have been on the market for a while. In MindLabs’ case, its headband will help users visualize data before, during and after their classes, including information about their brain waves, heart rates and muscle tension, and saved in the app so they can track their progress.

Turning mental wellness into a habit

One of the biggest challenges that all mental wellness apps need to address is user engagement. It can be hard staying motivated to use a self-directed mental health app when someone is already stressed, depressed or very busy. On the other hand, when they feel better, they might stop checking in.

Ebrahim sees this as a major opportunity for MindLabs, and its EEG headband and data visualization features will play a major role. “Even though there was been a proliferation of mental health apps, retention has proven difficult. But we think that is because these apps truly don’t understand their users,” he said.

“With the data we’re able to show, not just through the Halo but through syncing with Apple HealthKit, we can show our subscribers a positive progression of their mental health, similar to how you can see your weight change on a scale, or improvement in heart rate variability in an app. This helps build a powerful habit because we can finally help to close the loop when it comes to improving mental fitness.”

Participating in live classes provides accountability, too, he added. “The act of scheduling a class and tuning in with thousands of others is a powerful force, similar to having a personal trainer in the gym making sure you turn up and workout.”

MindLabs also plans to build communities around its instructors. During livestreams, instructors will welcome new subscribers and mention user achievements. After each workout, users will get a results screen they can share, similar to screenshots from fitness apps like Strava or Nike Training Club.

In terms of protecting personal privacy, Ebrahim said MindLabs is “firmly against any form of data commercialization.” Instead, it will monetize through monthly or yearly subscriptions, and user data collected through Halo or the app will only be used to make personalized content recommendations.

In a statement about Passion Capital’s investment in MindLabs, partner Eileen Burbidge said, “We’re incredibly excited to be working with MindLabs as they transform the way we look after our minds. Mindfulness is more important now than ever and we know that Adnan and Gabor’s commitment to best in class content, quality production and unparalleled user experience means they’re the best to bring this platform to market.”


#apps, #eeg-headband, #england, #europe, #fundings-exits, #health, #meditation, #mental-health, #mental-wellness, #mindlabs, #startups, #tc


Shh. It’s Breakfast Time.

Silent breakfast is a wellness practice that is helping some people cope with the pandemic.

#anxiety-and-stress, #kripalu-center-for-yoga-and-health, #meditation, #work-life-balance, #your-feed-selfcare


How to Have a Disagreement Like an Adult, According to Deepak Chopra

The longtime New Age celebrity has a working theory about how we can all get along. Your mileage may vary.

#buddhism, #bullies, #chopra-deepak, #content-type-service, #la-jolla-calif, #meditation, #social-media, #your-feed-selfcare


eJewel Wants You to Be Present

The ’90s folk idol is an old hand at mindfulness.

#anxiety-and-stress, #jewel, #meditation, #pieces-of-you-album, #quarantine-life-and-culture


Jewel Wants You to Be Present

The ’90s folk idol is an old hand at mindfulness.

#anxiety-and-stress, #jewel, #meditation, #pieces-of-you-album, #quarantine-life-and-culture


Five success factors for behavioral health startups

Telehealth, or remote, tech-enabled healthcare, has existed for years in primary medical care through companies like Teladoc (NYSE: TDOC)Doctors on Demand and MDLIVE.

In recent years, the application of telehealth had rapidly expanded to address specific chronic and behavioral health issues like mental health, weight loss and nutrition, addiction, diabetes and hypertension, etc. These are real and oftentimes very severe issues faced by people all over the world, yet until now have seen little to no use of technology in providing care.

We believe behavioral health is particularly suited to benefit from the digitization trends COVID-19 has accelerated. Previously, we’ve written about the pandemic’s impact on online learning and education, both for K-12 students and adult learners. But behavioral health is another area impacted by the fundamental change in consumers’ behavior today. Below are four reasons we think the time is now for behavioral health startups — followed by five key factors we think characterize successful companies in this area.

Telehealth can significantly lower the cost of care

Traditional behavioral healthcare is cost-prohibitive for most people. In-person therapy costs $100+ per session in the U.S., and many mental health and substance-use providers don’t accept insurance because they don’t get paid enough by insurers.

By contrast, telehealth reduces overhead costs and scales more effectively. Leveraging technology, providers can treat more patients in less time with almost zero marginal costs. Mobile-based communications enable asynchronous care that further helps providers scale. Access to digital content gives patients on-going support without the need for a human on the other side. This is particularly useful in treating behavioral health issues where ongoing support and motivation may be necessary.

Technology unlocks supply in “shadow markets” of providers

Globally, we face an extreme shortage of behavioral health providers. For example, the United States has fewer than 30,000 licensed psychiatrists (translating to <1 for every 10,000 people). Outside of big cities, the problem gets worse: ~50-60% of nonmetro counties have no psychologists or psychiatrists at all.

Even when providers are available, wait times for appointments are notoriously long. This is a huge issue when behavioral health conditions often require timely intervention.

We are seeing new platforms build large networks of certified coaches, licensed psychologists and psychiatrists, and other providers, aggregating supply in what has historically been a scarce and a highly fragmented provider population.

Behavioral/mental health issues are losing their stigma

We believe the stigma associated with mental illness and other behavioral health conditions is dissipating. More and more public figures are speaking out about their struggle with anxiety, depression, addiction and other behavioral health issues. Our zeitgeist is shifting fast, and there’s an all-time high in people seeking help as the Google Trends data below demonstrates.

google trends search: "therapist near me," 2015- 2010

Image Credits: Google

Note: The anomalous dip in March/April ’20 was driven by mandatory shelter-in-place due to COVID-19.

Policy and regulations are changing quickly

#battery-ventures, #column, #coronavirus, #counseling, #covid-19, #depression, #digital-health, #extra-crunch, #headspace, #health, #health-insurance, #healthcare, #hypertension, #livongo, #market-analysis, #meditation, #online-learning, #smartphone, #startups, #talkspace, #tc, #telehealth, #venture-capital, #vida-health


You’re Doomscrolling Again. Here’s How to Snap Out of It.

In a pandemic that forces us to stay home, bingeing on doom-and-gloom news feels irresistible. These health experts offer ways to break the habit.

#computers-and-the-internet, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-risks-and-safety-concerns, #facebook-inc, #loneliness, #meditation, #murthy-vivek-h, #social-media, #videophones-and-videoconferencing, #zoom-video-communications


The Shaman of Instagram

Durek Verrett, friend of Gwyneth Paltrow and consort of the Princess of Norway, wants to bring spiritual healing to the masses.

#astrology, #california, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #goop-com, #instagram-inc, #love-emotion, #meditation, #psychology-and-psychologists, #verrett-durek


How to Start Meditating

The world is stressful. That’s especially true right now. Here are strategies to take just a few minutes every day to calm your mind and check in with yourself.

#medicine-and-health, #meditation, #mental-health-and-disorders, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #transcendental-meditation


How to Find a Meditation App for You

If you want to steal a few minutes of Zen and achieve something like contentment in the face of chaos and uncertainty, you might be tempted to download a meditation app.

#anxiety-and-stress, #meditation, #mobile-applications


A Latter-Day Rip Van Winkle Emerges, Blinking, Into the Post-Virus World

Daniel Thorson went into a silent retreat in mid-March, meditating through 75 coronavirus news cycles, Boris Johnson’s hospitalization, social distancing and sourdough starter. Now he’s catching up.

#buddhism, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #meditation, #supermarkets-and-grocery-stores, #vermont


Meditation and mindfulness apps continue their surge amid pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has led to a surge in downloads of mental wellness, and specifically, those focused on meditation, dealing with anxiety and helping users fall asleep. According to a new report from app store intelligence firm Sensor Tower, the world’s 10 largest English-language mental wellness apps in April saw a combined 2 million more downloads during the month of April 2020 compared with January, reaching close to 10 million total downloads for the month.

The charts were dominated by market leaders, including No. 1 app Calm with 3.9 million downloads in April, followed by Headspace with 1.5 million downloads, then Meditopia, with 1.4 million. Of those, Calm saw the largest number of new installs, with more than 911,000 more downloads in April compared with January, a rise of nearly 31%. Another app, Relax: Master Your Destiny, grew 218% since the start of the year, picking up 391,000 downloads in April.

In addition, eight of the top 10 grew their monthly installs in April compared with January. Most also grew their number of new downloads on a month-over-month basis between March and April as well, the firm noted.

This is not the first report to detail the surge of interest in mobile meditation apps since the COVID-19 outbreak. App Annie had earlier found that downloads of mindfulness apps hit 750,000 during the week of March 29, 2020, up 25% from the weekly average in January and February.

The apps have used a variety of different approaches to grow their businesses amid the pandemic. One app, Headspace, was the first to offer free memberships to front-line medical professionals and first responders. It later expanded its free access to the unemployed and launched a collection of free content for those living in New York, in partnership with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Other apps, including Breethe, Ten Percent Happier and Simple Habit, offered free memberships to medical workers, following Headspace’s lead.

This strategy has the short-term benefit of gaining the apps good press while helping those who are battling COVID-19 on the front lines. But it also comes across as a little opportunistic — as if the companies are using the pandemic and, in particular, medical workers’ struggles to boost their downloads. If the companies truly cared about the impacts of COVID-19 on users’ stress and anxiety, a better strategy may have been one that involved rolling out an entirely free collection to all their users focused on that topic of COVID-19 stress and anxiety, specifically.

Calm, meanwhile, took a different approach. It launched a page of free resources, but instead focused on partnerships to expand free access to more users, while also growing its business. Earlier this month, nonprofit health system Kaiser Permanente announced it was making the Calm app’s Premium subscription free for its members, for example — the first health system to do so.

The company’s decision to not pursue as many free giveaways meant it may have missed the easy boost from press coverage. However, it may be a better long-term strategy as it sets up Calm for distribution partnerships that could continue beyond the immediate COVID-19 crisis.

Sensor Tower’s full report delves into which apps are more popular in the U.S. versus the U.K., and other data. It’s available here.

Image credits: Sensor Tower

#apps, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #health, #meditation, #mobile


Lynn Shelton on Overcoming Her Darkest Moment on Set

In an interview in March for a book, the filmmaker spoke about her despair while shooting “Your Sister’s Sister,” and how she ultimately dealt with it.

#meditation, #movies, #shelton-lynn, #your-sisters-sister-movie


Hypnosis for health? Investors have placed a $1.1 million bet on Mindset Health that it can work

Chris and Alex Naoumidis came to hypnotherapy through dresses.

As The New York Times reported last year, the two brothers initially started their careers as startup entrepreneurs with a peer-to-peer dress-sharing app for women. The Australian natives, overcome with doubt, about their ability to succeed in startupland and when apps didn’t work, their father suggested they try hypnotherapy.

Those sessions led the brothers to launch Mindset Health and raise $1.1 million in funding from investors including Fifty Years, YC, Gelt VC, Giant Leap VC, and angel investors across the US and Australia

It’s a lot of backers for a small round that closed in November of 2019, but it’s indicative of the kind of bets that investors are willing to take in the mental health space these days.

A whole slew of apps have come to market to treat the mental disorders that seemingly accompany living in the modern world. There are companies that facilitate matching with therapists, companies that provide mental wellness tools in the form of cognitive behavioral therapies, billion-dollar companies that offer mindfulness and meditation, and companies that offer hypnotherapy.

The hypnotherapy sessions that Alex and his brother took gave them an idea. “Could we do this similar to meditation and bring this to market in a way that would be helpful?” Alex Naoumidis told me.

Meditation is a multi-million dollar business with apps like Calm and Headspace raking in millions of dollars in venture financing and giving them billions of dollars in perceived valuation.

Alex Naoumidis stresses that the app isn’t therapy — the company can’t pitch it that way under current regulations. “It’s more of a self-management tool,” he said. “Helping people with anxiety or [irritable bowel syndrome] to manage those symptoms at home to compliment the work they’re doing.”

The goal, according to Naoumidis, is to have a number of apps under the Mindset umbrella that deal with specific conditions. While it began as a more general mental wellness app, the company now has Nerva, its IBS focused product, alongside its general mental wellness Mindset toolkit.

Nerva’s not a cheap subscription. There’s an upfront payment of $99 and then $88 three-month subscription. The Mindset subscription service costs $11 (priced to sell in the COVID-19 era) down from $64 when the Times’ writer, Nellie Bowles first tried the product.

Here’s how she described it:

As a first step, the app suggested that I text a friend or tweet to the public the quote “He who conquers himself is the mightiest warrior.” For the next 19 minutes, a soft male voice told me that my mind can slow down. It can convert concerns to decisions. The process can even become second nature. And if it does, I can be a person of action. A person of action.

I did another module, Increase Productivity, which is voiced by a peppy younger man — a start-up bro right in my ear asking me to repeat after him: “I give myself permission to know what I want to be and what I want to do and do it efficiently.”

These mental health apps, or any app, supplement, or business that’s promoting wellness need to have some clinical studies to back up their claims and mindset is working with doctors on the products. The initial Mindset app was designed in concert with Dr. Michael Japko while the IBS app was designed with Dr. Simone Peters.

Both receive revenue share with the company for their work developing the course of therapies.

The company’s co-founder says that they’re unscientifically seeing successes come from the service. People self-report their symptoms at the start and at the end of the program. For people who complete the program, 90 percent have reduced symptoms (I’m not sure what percentage of signups complete the program).

“Our idea is we want to help researchers who develop these amazing programs deliver them digitally,” said Naoumidis. “We worked with world leading researchers to make it more accessible.”

#calm, #co-founder, #headspace, #medicine, #meditation, #mindfulness, #peer-to-peer, #spirituality, #tc, #the-new-york-times, #the-times, #united-states, #writer


Alanis Morissette Is Helping Us Meditate. Want to Join?

Plus, Michelle Wolf on running in place, Elaine Welteroth on relationships at a distance and more in our live events this week.

#fashion-and-apparel, #meditation, #morissette-alanis, #music, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #running, #welteroth-elaine


Crying in Your Car Counts as Self-Care

Ways to find headroom and even joy right now.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #crying, #meditation, #parenting, #quarantines


Hims launches group therapy services as first foray into broader mental health initiative

Hims, the startup consumer health brand providing out-of-pocket physician services online, has launched group therapy services through its Hims and Hers brands as part of an initial push into mental health services.

The company first began exploring opportunities to expand into the mental health category around eight months ago, and accelerated its pace to respond to increased consumer demand cery aused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mental health and wellness has become a huge business opportunity for consumer startups as the stigma around seeking treatment for mental health issues has abated.

For Hims, which built its brand around the destigmatization of disorders like erectile dysfunction, and sexual health and wellness, the extension into mental health made sense, according to founder and chief executive, Andrew Dudum . “It’s probably the simplest leap the company has made,” he said.

“Hair loss, STDs, acne, performance anxiety… These are really medical conditions that get to your core around confidence, self-worth and stigma… these are not topics of conversation,” Dudum said. “There is a big need in our customer base to help them with areas of anxiety, stress and depression… There is nothing more stigmatized than mental health.”

Hims and Hers are beginning their foray into mental wellness with anonymized group therapy and guided meditation sessions that won’t have the same hurdles to providing treatment that the company would have for individual therapy or text-based sessions.

Government regulations at the federal and state level require mental health clinicians to be licensed in-state, which means that the company is limited in the kinds of services it can offer before it rolls out its network.

Currently, the company has about a dozen mental health practitioners that it’s working with through Regroup Telehealth, one of the largest providers of tele-psychiatry services in the country.

Ultimately, Hims envisions providing a continuum of care ranging from anonymous group therapy sessions to telemedical consultations, to in-person, video consultations and an ability to issue prescriptions to folks that need it.

Like its other services, the mental health offerings are going to be capped at the provision of some very basic services and the company won’t be prescribing any medication for what could be considered controlled substances, according to the company’s chief medical officer, Dr. Patrick Carroll.

“We only treat low risk patients,” Dr. Carroll said. “It will be the same thing for behavioral health… the conventional screen is a PHQ9… We will have a depression and anxiety screen. For those folks that get scripts we can make sure that their prescriptions line up with the tests and screens.”

That means the company won’t be prescribing medications like Xanax, Ritalin, Adderall, or anti-psychotics for people with more serious conditions. “The majority of things that we will prescribe will be [serotonin re-uptake inhibitors],” said Caroll. Those are medications like Prozac, Zoloft, and Lexipro.

To ensure that the company’s practitioners are meeting the requisite standard of care, each interaction with a therapist will be recorded and roughly 10% to 20% of those interactions will be audited, per company policy. “We’re going to have the same quality structure in place,” said Dr. Carroll. “We will have therapists as well as advisers who are going to be part of the quality review process and review encounters to make sure that the guidelines.”

The group therapy sessions, which will typically cost $15, are free for the next few months as the nation struggles to cope with the dramatic social changes caused by the government’s response to the COVID-19 epidemic.

Eventually the company expects to adopt a monthly subscription fee for its mental health offerings, including $50 per month for text based therapy and more customized options. Prices will cap at a few hundred dollars per month.

Unlike companies like SonderMind, which announced the close of a new round of financing yesterday, Hims and Hers mental wellness offerings won’t be covered by any healthcare plan. Instead it’s an out-of-pocket expense similar to the other services that the company offers.

That model appears to be working. “We have seen over 1 million patients over the platform over the past year and a half,” said Dudum. “From high risk cardiovascular disease and diabetes… The medical system that has been put in place by Pat and the 300 plus physician organizations… is one that is already treating very serious conditions.” 

In some way, mental health is the most appropriate candidate for a telemedical offering, according to Steve Monte, a field lecturer with the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work at the University of Southern California.

“I like to think about it as an idea whose time has come,” said Monte. “Coronavirus has shed a light on how useful these services are.”

Indeed, many companies already are providing virtual mental health services. Teladoc, the publicly traded telemedicine provider has a subsidiary called BetterHelp, which offers mental healthcare via the phone.

For Forerunner Ventures co-founder and managing partner, Kirsten Green, the movement into mental health by Hims was a very natural extension of the company’s core thesis.

“The thing that drew me to the company was reimagining certain elements of healthcare and providing access to people,” said Green. “We’re not going to be able to service every medical need in this way. To the extent that there are things that can be handled in the appropriate high integrity way that can be supplied digitally we want to be able to provide that to the customer.”

#acne, #andrew-dudum, #articles, #depression, #diabetes, #disability, #erectile-dysfunction, #forerunner-ventures, #health, #healthcare, #hims, #kirsten-green, #meditation, #mental-health, #pat, #physician, #stds, #tc, #telehealth, #telemedicine, #therapist


In a Plan to Bring Yoga to Alabama Schools, Stretching Is Allowed. ‘Namaste’ Isn’t.

State legislators are considering lifting part of a 1993 law forbidding yoga from public schools. Critics say it is an inherently religious, and “non-Christian,” practice.

#alabama, #democratic-party, #education-k-12, #meditation, #republican-party, #state-legislatures, #yoga