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New Austin-based MindBar app makes mental health care more accessible

It’s much easier than finding a therapist to complain about the cost and accessibility of mental health care. Group therapy is more affordable, but still an expensive and daunting commitment. Text therapy like BetterHelp costs a lot more and often feels stuffy. Now, a new Austin-based platform is paving the way for another option.

While it doesn’t entirely replace the need for talk therapy, MindBar, which launched in July, spreads the workload of coaches and therapists across many clients, keeps things in line, and ultimately sets users at their own pace. Like MasterClass for Mental Health, the app lowers the barrier to entry to just $14.99 per month.

The one-way service certainly cannot listen to and identify a user’s thought patterns or recommend personalized action plans, but it can provide a wide range of useful primers to later incorporate into talk therapy. , increase less frequent sessions or simply facilitate some preventive care and curiosity for the mind.

“MindBar has grown in popularity since its launch in July, and our members have enjoyed the wide array of tools to cultivate a healthy mind,” writes MindBar founder Hailey O’Neill in an email interview. “We wanted to represent the idea that mental health is a right, not a luxury, and the growth we’ve already seen within our app and its members is beginning to deliver on that ambition.”

While MindBar isn’t therapy, it’s not YouTube either. Classes take an experience or topic – stress, grief, and self-esteem to name a few – and break it down into video modules and worksheets. Each is organized and taught by a “teacher,” whose qualifications are clearly spelled out in their biography, from “coaching years,” to certifications in therapy, and doctorates. Instead of browsing individual videos, users join each class; it’s just a click away, but it feels different from mental health apps that encourage tackling everything at once.

Take the “Body Image” course as an example: it contains six approximately 15-minute modules, each paired with a multi-part “worksheet” of open-ended questions and text boxes for journaling on the platform. These are then packaged in a small, user-friendly printout for those who prefer to write. If a user decided to moderate their own experience to simulate engaging in traditional therapy (say 50 minutes every two weeks), simply following this course could fill six to twelve weeks. for two months of MindBar at $450 for three therapy sessions.

Since MindBar exposes a user to the theory and methods of a particular professional, other avenues open up for extra or post-school work. Molly Seifert teaches “body image”. On Seifert’s MindBar biography page, there is a link to his website and social media. His credentials point to his 22-episode podcast, what she wonadding approximately 10 hours of free content to a user’s journey, if they follow it outside of the platform.

There’s a button to book a session — something MindBar is working to finalize — and on Seifert’s website, she offers a more involved “body confidence program” that costs $897. Most users probably won’t end up signing up for a teacher’s nearly $1,000 group therapy track. However, the opportunity is there to follow this thread from a toe-dip to a full-fledged customer-supplier relationship.

A 2021 report from Sapien Labs’ Mental Health Million Project 2021 found that in the United States, 37% of respondents who did not seek help for clinical mental health issues did so because they lacked confidence in the mental health system. Almost as many, 34%, did not know what kind of help to seek. More than a quarter preferred self-help. Imagine the change if these respondents had a self-paced minimal engagement platform that directed them to professionals they have come to trust.

As of August 31, 2022, there were 26 classes on MindBar. Sign up at mind-bar.com.