Mental, The World’s First Mental Health App Created For Men
Stress kills. Right now, stress is at an all-time high: Three out of four adults experience levels of stress that impact their mental health, and according to the American Psychological Association, more than a quarter of all adults say that most days, they are so stressed, they can’t even function.
For men in particular, their utilization of current mental health resources is alarmingly low in relation to their actual needs. While more than 20,000 mental health and self-help apps exist, few if any resonate with men. Most apps focus heavily on nurturing and emotional vulnerability, and men are not benefiting. The lack of meaningful support for men has real repercussions, as males make up 83% of deaths by suicide. It’s time to focus on creating more accessible resources tailored to men’s needs.
Anson Whitmer, Ph.D. in Neuroscience and Co-founder of Mental, the world’s first men’s mental health app designed specifically for men, has personal motivations behind Mental’s mission. “When I was 19, my uncle, who was one of my best friends, killed himself,” he says. “He tried to get help, but none of the therapists or clinical approaches resonated with him. That motivated me to get a Ph.D. in Neuroscience. My research was driven by a desire to understand what causes men like my uncle to develop mood disorders like depression.”
“To fix the male suicide crisis, we have to be innovative with solutions that resonate with men,” says Whitmer. “Tweaking existing approaches with new colors and app mascots doesn’t work. We must fundamentally rethink our approach by leveraging the wealth of scientific research at our disposal, by creating something tailored to men.”
Whitmer, along with Mental Co-founder Tyler Sheaffer, were both founding team members at Calm, a mental health app now valued at over two billion dollars. They both saw men as chronically underserved by mental health apps, and developed the first-of-its-kind platform to cater specifically to their needs.
“At Calm, I saw how powerful a great app can be at helping people improve their lives,” says Sheaffer, “but like every other tool, the approach just didn’t resonate with most men. So Anson and I set out to build a great app, this time, specifically for men.”
Whitmer and Sheaffer then hit the ground running to assemble their Mental dream team.
“People said men can’t be reached. Anson and Tyler said, ‘Hold our [expletive] beers,’” quips writer/comedian Jason Kyle, who serves as Mental’s Head of Creative. “Mental enables men to take immediate action to bring down stress, as opposed to waiting on hold, rescheduling appointments, and endless red tape and bureaucracies.“
Users can expect a take-charge approach, with a simple user interface and a tone packed with wit and humor. The evidence-based tools built into the Mental app are designed to help control stress and motivate men to reach their full potential.
“Mental focuses on helping every man be the man they want to be, and have the potential to be, through tailored skill development that immediately feels relatable and applicable to their life,” says Matt Englar-Carlson, Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology, and Mental’s in-house men’s mental health expert. “There is incredible value in strengthening one’s mindset and having a healthier, purpose-driven life.”
“At Mental, we are meeting men where they are at,” Whitmer says. “Instead of ‘man up, be emotionless’ or ‘just be emotionally vulnerable,’ we are offering a third way: actionable, evidence-based tools that simply solve your problems.”
Mental “patients,” as Whitmer and Sheaffer refer to their users, are prompted to start their day with a modernized and optimized “sh#t, shower, and shave” routine. This begins with the first thing men do in the morning, which the app refers to as the “Daily Deuce”.
“It’s like an Andrew Huberman podcast but instead of 2 hours of science words, it’s condensed down to a 2-minute key takeaway in the style of George Carlin,” says Kyle. “It’s a guy’s daily multivitamin of science, wisdom, and motivation. It’s a short, tactical masterclass for 365 days of the year. And best of all, you swap out the morning doom-scroll by listening to your Daily Deuce while taking your daily deuce.”
Every Daily Deuce is connected to a short journaling prompt that AI then converts into an achievable daily action. During a shave, users can plan and reflect on their AI-generated micro-purpose for the day.
“These small actions are what contribute to the formation of healthy daily habits and translate into discipline and a greater sense of purpose for men,” says Englar-Carlson.
The shower portion includes the Cold Shower Protocol, where Navy SEAL Master Chief Stephen Drum guides and trains users under the stress of cold water. The physiological and mental health benefits of cold water therapy have been well documented, and the protocol adds a valuable layer of guided mental resilience training in four key areas: tactical breathwork, body relaxation, self-talk and mental clarity. The training offers more than 20 tools under the “good stress” of the cold water, enabling men to bring down their “bad stress” in everyday life.
The team is also working on deeper therapeutic outcomes and will soon release the first version of its “Clinical AI Coaching” programs. Mental is leveraging its own AI language models to help men solve specific, high-level problems much faster, and at $40 a year, the app costs a fraction of the traditional healthcare model.
“Mental helps men strengthen their mindset to control stress, build healthy habits, and live a life of purpose,” Whitmer says. “It’s time for a mental health app for men. It’s time for men to get mental. And! We get to say sh*t, which we think is pretty awesome.”