As we enter the holiday season, it’s now more important than ever to prioritize your mental health. OnePiece Work has teamed up with San Francisco Member Tamar Blue, Founder of MentalHappy, to do just that.
Mental Happy is a social network designed to help people of all races, genders, and economic standings improve their emotional wellbeing through positive peer support. We’re excited to interview Tamar and learn more about her mental wellness platform.
1. What inspired you to start MentalHappy?
MentalHappy is a social network designed to help people improve their emotional wellbeing through positive peer support. The company was founded in part to help heal my own anxiety. Like many people, I was having a hard time navigating life after a failed relationship. I was also struggling to decide what should come next in my career. Wanting to help myself and others at the same time, I started the company as a product-based business selling care packages with items aimed at spreading joy and promoting wellness.
After a couple of years, as both our user community and my vision expanded, I decided to shift the model from a product-based business into a service-based platform. With that evolution, we became able to serve millions of people who struggle to find and afford the support they need for greater emotional wellbeing.
2. What makes Mental Happy different from other online wellness platforms?
We make it possible for everyone to get the help they deserve without the financial and physical limitations often associated with traditional therapies. MentalHappy is not a replacement for traditional therapies – we provide our members with human connectivity, social engagement, and acceptance that comes only from peer-to-peer interaction. According to Mental Health American, peer support “lowers the overall cost of mental health services by reducing re-hospitalization rates and days spent in inpatient services, increasing the use of outpatient services”, improving quality of life, and increasing patient engagement and self-management.
3. What has the pandemic changed about how you provide service to your community?
Even before the COVID-19 crisis, the rise of telemedicine and a new cultural emphasis on emotional wellness had created a surge in demand for our offering. When shelter-in-place orders went into effect across the country, we had just wrapped up beta testing for our peer support app. We pushed really hard on engineering and scaling, then quickly reached initial capacity. There is now a long waitlist for the product, and some MentalHappy community members are paying a small fee to ensure first access to our social network as soon as it goes live.
4. Who can benefit the most from your service? Are you noticing any emerging audiences for your platform?
Everyone! 100% of people experience life events that can take a toll on emotional wellness, from loss and injury to breakups and financial hardship. These tough situations can lead to anxiety, feelings of helplessness, and loss of purpose, which ultimately can impact your job performance, personal relationships, and physical health. According to the American Psychological Association, “We are facing a national mental health crisis that could yield serious health and social consequences for years to come.” Our team anticipates that audiences for our platform in the near future will include employees. In the distant future, audiences may include children as young as 12 years old.
5. What are some common challenges members of your community are facing right now?
People on the platform are dealing with day-to-day issues. However, this year, in addition to their personal struggles, people are impacted by the emotional rollercoaster of 2020 – from the pandemic to racial injustices and, of course, the election. Collective pain right now involves fatigue and stress.
6. How would you recommend practicing gratitude? What are some of the health benefits of regularly practicing gratitude?
Practicing gratitude can help you positively respond to life's day-to-day challenges. Many people would be surprised to learn that practicing or expressing gratitude regularly has real benefits, for not only your mental health, but your physical health as well. In our research, my team and I found the following six amazing health benefits of practicing gratitude from the world’s top science and medical institutions:
• Gratitude reduces your stress level.
According to a study published by National Center for Biotechnology Information "cultivating appreciation and other positive emotions showed lower levels of stress hormones [specifically] a 23 percent reduction in cortisol and 100 percent increase in DHEA/DHEAS levels."
I know this to be personally true! I started my gratitude practice during a very stressful time in my life and gradually, each day got a bit easier. Practicing gratitude doesn’t make your problems go away, but it puts you in a more optimistic mindset. When you’re more optimistic, you’re in a better position to solve problems.
• Gratitude improves the quality of your sleep.
According to a study conducted at the University of Manchester and published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, regularly focusing on gratitude and thankfulness "improved quality of sleep and [resulted in] longer sleep hours." We could all use a few extra Zs this year, and gratitude could be the key to catching them!
• Gratitude increases your emotional wellbeing.
According to studies published in the Journal of Research in Personality, gratitude eases depression and increases social support while making you less likely to consider suicide.
• Gratitude makes your heart stronger and healthier.
According to research conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital, the presence of gratitude in a patient "may independently predict superior cardiovascular health." Other studies show that gratitude increases physical activity and, therefore, the speed of recovery for heart patients while reducing their inflammatory biomarkers.
7. What’s next for MentalHappy?
MentalHappy is excited to open up our private beta of our peer support groups.
Thank you Tamar for giving us some insight on your business, MentalHappy. We admire what you are doing to help so many struggling with Mental health issues, and are thrilled that you are part of our OnePiece Work community in San Francisco.