A startup called Wondermind wants to help you get mentally fit. The website, co-founded by singer and actress Selena Gomez, her mother Mandy Teefey and newsletter entrepreneur Daniella Pearson, emphasizes mental fitness. His core philosophy is that mental health requires daily effort—in the same way that getting physically fit requires regular exercise.
The company, first announced in November 2021, raised $5 million in August from Serena Williams’ venture capital firm Serena Ventures, valuing the startup at $100 million before revenue. So far, visitors to Wondermind’s website have signed up for its emails, which the company says it sends to 500,000 people. Today, Wondermind announces the launch of its website. It aims to “democratize and destigmatise” looking after your mental health.
Pearson, Wondermind’s co-CEO, is targeting a broad audience. “We pursue everyone with feelings – not only [people with] mental disorders,” she says. Pearson describes the site in an email to Forbes as a “sexier, funnier contestant on Psychology TodayWebMD, etc. for the millions of people who seek mental health care every day.’
Public concerns about mental health increased during the Covid-19 pandemic as the number of people struggling with various conditions increased. Thirty-nine percent of those surveyed by the U.S. Census Bureau in late April and early May this year had symptoms of anxiety and depression in the previous four weeks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Young people are particularly challenged. More than half of 18- to 24-year-old Californians report depression, while 31 percent say they have had suicidal thoughts and 16 percent have self-harmed, according to a survey of 800 young people commissioned by the California Health Endowment and reported by Los Angeles Times. The California study found multiple barriers to getting help: Nearly half of those who wanted to talk to a mental health professional couldn’t, often because of cost and lack of access.
The founders of Wondermind bring their personal experiences with mental health to their new company. In August 2021, Gomez spoke with El magazine about being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2018. “I felt a huge weight lift off me when I found out,” she said El. “I can take a deep breath and say, ‘That explains so much.'” Teefey, who is CEO of Kicked to the Curb Productions, spoke to Forbes for being misdiagnosed and later found to have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Pearson described how she learned as a freshman in high school that she had OCD, but didn’t get treatment until her senior year in college—after three months of crying every day and sometimes hitting the floor with her hands until they were bleeding. Her grades were so low that she worried about being kicked out of Boston University. She knew her parents didn’t believe in therapists, so she used some of the money she earned from her newsletter company, Newsette, to pay for treatment. Her therapist prescribed Prozac; this, combined with cognitive behavioral therapy, helped her turn things around. She made the dean’s list and graduated with almost all A’s.
Wondermind’s content will be a mix of interviews, articles and advice on mental health and fitness. The Filter by Your Feelings tool will suggest content to readers based on how they’re feeling, whether they’re lonely, angry, happy or sad. The company says it has engaged an advisory committee of 11 mental health professionals to make sure the content is “accurate, responsive, inclusive and relevant.”
Pearson’s goal is to empower people to be their best. “I don’t want anyone with mental health issues to think of themselves as successful,” she said Forbes in August.