5 mins read
September 3, 2020
Our Evolution Into a Social Media Network
Morgan Sanders
Morgan Sanders
Morgan Sanders
Our Evolution Into a Social Media Network

In 2015, Tamar Blue found herself suffering from severe anxiety following the end of a toxic relationship and encountering significant challenges in taking her first startup to the next level. However, she refused to accept defeat and embarked on a personal journey to find happiness. After countless hours of reading and researching mental health, Tamar implemented several key practices she discovered into her daily life, and ultimately, found the happiness she’d been seeking. Simultaneously, she embarked on her true passion – helping others to overcome life’s most difficult moments and improve their emotional wellbeing.

She knew what she wanted to do, but it wasn’t until talking with a close that she realized she could turn her passion into her career. During this conversation, she was asked what she would name her future business, and without hesitation, she replied, “MentalHappy.” To her shock, the domain name was available, so she immediately began conceptualizing the business.

During this time, Tamar came across story after story about company founders taking their own lives. With only $250 left in her name, she decided to spend every last penny to create gift boxes full of goodies that she believed would inspire joy and support the wellness of their recipients. She selected four female founders and shipped these “Cheer Boxes” along with notes asking the recipients to post their reactions to the gifts on social media.

It didn’t take long before MentalHappy’s “Cheerbox” drew the attention of thousands of people on social media and led to order requests pouring into Tamar’s inbox. Soon, Tamar formed partnerships with employers to distribute MentalHappy’s Cheer Boxes to employees, and by the end of 2015, Tamar had successfully developed, sold and shipped more than 10,000 of these curated wellness kits for over 200 employers in an effort to help them support employees’ emotional well-being.

In the years following, Tamar’s vision grew, and she decided to transition MentalHappy’s business model from a product-based business into a service capable of impacting the lives of millions of people struggling to find and afford support they need to improve their emotional wellbeing. 

After Tamar realized her vision for the future of our company, the next step was determining the market opportunity and creating an app/platform that had a real-world application. Most importantly, she needed to determine if there was a significant need for an emotional wellness platform, and if so, what specific needs/demands from consumers were not already being met by existing companies. 

Here are a handful of statistics similar to those Tamar came across in her research:

  • One of every five adults experiencing mental health challenges in the U.S. report they were not able to get access to the treatment they needed – lack of access to treatment providers and not having enough money to cover the costs topping the list of reasons
  • 23 percent of US adults facing a mental health issue were not able to get treatment due to cost
  • 117 million Americans live in areas with little to no access to mental health professionals (these areas are designated as Health Professional Shortage Areas)
  • Traditional mental health therapies cost anywhere from $65 to $250 for a 45-minute session, with the average in most U.S. markets ranging from $100-$200.  
  • Globally, investments into mental health startups have increased five-fold within the past five years – more than $75 million was invested into the private sector alone in 2019 – and funding rounds led by investors for mental health startups increased from 30 in 2014 to 105 in 2019 according to Pitchbook data analyzed by Octopus Ventures

Based on these numbers, Tamar determined there was significant demand for a new emotional support app/site and that cost and accessibility were the two primary issues keeping people from getting the help they need to overcome difficult life events. She also found that the majority of existing resources focused on traditional forms of therapy and were led by mental health professionals (psychologists/psychiatrists). She did not find many tools that promoted peer-to-peer support. However, her research showed that peer support has a far greater impact on reducing feelings of loneliness and promoting a sense of acceptance. Further, she discovered that scientific evidence shows peer support offers greater levels of self‐efficacy, empowerment, and engagement. 

Tamar took her findings and decided MentalHappy must be: 1. Affordable, 2. Accessible to everyone, regardless of race, gender or socioeconomic status, and 3. Designed to connect members to a network of peers who look like them, come from similar backgrounds and are facing similar life challenges. 

Additionally, Tamar knew that every single person experiences difficult life events that can take a toll on their emotional well being, but that many of these people do not actually suffer from a mental health disorder. Also, she understood the stigmas that exist within many groups and communities when it comes to the term “mental health,” as she had experienced the effects of these stigmas first-hand in the black community. 

Tamar’s personal journal to improving her emotional fitness, combined with her research led to the evolution of MentalHappy becoming what it is today -- the first social network designed to empower people to overcome challenging life events and improve their daily lives through peer support.

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