A startup company called Wondermind wants to help you get mentally fit. The website, cofounded by singer and actress Selena Gomez, her mom, Mandy Teefey, and newsletter entrepreneur Daniella Pierson, stresses mental fitness. Its underlying philosophy is that mental wellness requires daily effort—the same way that achieving physical fitness 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 pre-revenue startup at $100 million. So far visitors to the Wondermind’s website have signed up for its emails, which the company says it’s sending to 500,000 people. Today Wondermind is announcing the launch of its website. Its goal is to “democratize and destigmatize” caring for your mental health.
Pierson, co-CEO of Wondermind, is targeting a wide audience. “We are going after everyone with feelings—not just [people with] mental health disorders,” she says. Pierson describes the site in an email to Forbes as “a sexier, more entertaining competitor to Psychology Today, WebMD, etc. for the millions of people searching about mental health daily.”
Societal concerns about mental health intensified during the Covid-19 pandemic, as the number of people struggling with various conditions grew. Thirty-nine percent of those surveyed by the U.S. Census Bureau in late April and early May this year experienced symptoms of anxiety and depression in the prior four weeks, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Young people are especially challenged. More than half of 18- to 24-year-old Californians reported depression, while 31% said they experienced suicidal thinking and 16% self-harm, according to a survey of 800 young people commissioned by the California Endowment health foundation and reported by the Los Angeles Times. The California survey found multiple barriers to getting help: Nearly half of those who wanted to speak with a mental health professional could not, often due to cost and lack of access.
The Wondermind founders bring their own personal experiences with mental health to their new company. In August 2021, Gomez talked to Elle magazine about being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2018. “I felt a huge weight lifted off me when I found out,” she told Elle. “I could take a deep breath and say, ‘This explains so much.’” Teefey, who is CEO of Kicked to the Curb Productions, has spoken to Forbes about being misdiagnosed and later finding out that she has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Pierson described about learning, as a freshman in high school, that she had obsessive compulsive disorder, but didn’t get treatment until she was a senior in college–after three months of crying every day and sometimes banging her hands on the floor until they were bleeding. Her grades had dropped so low that she worried about getting kicked out of Boston University. She knew her parents didn’t believe in therapists, so she used some of the money earned by her newsletter company Newsette to pay for treatment. Her therapist prescribed Prozac; that, combined with cognitive behavioral therapy, helped her turn things around. She made the dean’s list and graduated with nearly all A’s.
Wondermind’s content will be a mix of interviews, articles and advice about mental health and fitness. A “Filter-By-Your-Feelings” tool will suggest content to readers based on how they are feeling, whether it be 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.”
Pierson’s goal is to empower people to be their best selves. “I don’t want anyone with mental health issues to count themselves out from being successful,” she told Forbes in August.