DETROIT (FOX 2) - Mental health is a struggle that more Americans are faced with daily. Selena Gomez has teamed up to form Wondermind, a way to help one another to navigate our mental fitness.
With the daily stresses of a work-life balance, family, a global pandemic, and whatever else life throws at us, there is no wonder why our mental health is more at risk now than ever.
Their story is simple, ‘Wondermind is our space to let it all out,’ as clearly displayed on Wondermind's front homepage. They are trying to take a new approach to mental health, similar to a fitness app., always at our fingertips, with the goal to end the stigma around mental health.
The Wondermind website greets users with a welcome video from its three creators. The founders are three women who are open to their own mental health struggles. Mandy (Amanda) Teefey, 45, along with Daniella Pierson, 26, are the co-founders and co-CEOs of Wondermind. They both have additional business initiatives that they have founded and are CEO of as well.
With them, is Selena Gomez, 29, as the Chief Impact Officer. Much of the media attention given to Wondermind surrounds Gomez, who is a singer, actor, producer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, who says she uses her platform to advocate for important causes. One of those causes is through her makeup company, Rare Beauty’s Rare Impact Fund, where Gomez committed to raising $100 million over the next 10 years. Her goal is to help give people access to the mental health resources and support that they need.
Gomez, who was diagnosed bipolar in 2020, says she lives with it, not that she suffers from it anymore.
"Putting your heart and soul out there, and being vulnerable and seeking help is one of the most terrifying things in the world, but requires so much courage and bravery," Gomez said.
FILE - Selena Gomez attends the photocall for "The Dead Don't Die" during the 72nd annual Cannes Film Festival on May 15, 2019 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Tony Barson/FilmMagic)
Teefey, who is actually Gomez’s mom, knows mental health struggles. She gave birth to Gomez at just 16. She and the father, Rick Gomez, married but divorced five years later. Teefey later remarried in 2006, and in 2011, at the age of 34, lost her baby girl due to a miscarriage. She was open about losing her baby, Scarlett. About two later, she gave birth to another baby girl, Gracie Elliot Teefey.
"I was misdiagnosed with bipolar for over 20 years, and I had to go to a facility, where I found out I was actually ADHD with trauma," added Teefey.
There is also a personal letter to fans, where all three women open up about the mental health struggles they’ve faced over the years, where they say 'we realized there was no inclusive, fun, and easy place where people could come together to explore, discuss, and navigate their feelings. So we created it. Welcoming to Wondermind.’
Wondermind is also resourced with six mental health advocates, in a variety of specialties. It’s scattered with positive affirmations throughout, reminding those who are looking for healthier mental answers, to ‘Be kind to your mind, Let's rethink how we think.’
Though they admit that it takes more than an inspirational quote to change the way your brain works. They highly emphasize mental fitness, saying, ‘You work out your body, but what about your mind?’
According to a study done in 2020 by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness. That’s almost 53 million people.
Mental illness includes many different conditions, and vary in the degree of severity, ranging from mild to moderate to severe. The conditions can either be categorized as any mental illness (AMI), which covers all recognized mental illnesses, or serious mental illness (SMI), which are conditions that are smaller and more severe.
In 2020, of the almost 53 million Americans with mental illnesses, the statics change on which age group or race has the highest number of cases, and those seeking treatment. But across the board, with every chart, women were always listed as having the majority of mental illness cases.
Wondermind aims to help people practice their mental fitness with the right tools, and honest conversations, but also, by changing the way we think and talk about our mental health. Not only to overcome the stigmas but to also shift your own mindsets, as well as to get any needed support—whatever that looks like for you.
"Like a workout for your mental health, Wondermind is where you’ll build your mental fitness routine through exclusive, honest conversations with people you've definitely heard of (and some you maybe haven't heard of...yet), mindset-shifting advice from experts, and essays that will make you feel seen and heard. Less jargon—more meaningful, relatable stuff you can actually use."
"I think a golden rule is trying to live a lifestyle of moderation," says Vasilis K. Pozios, MD, Chief Medical Officer for the Oakland Community Health Network.
"Taking care of yourself by eating well, sleeping properly, being mindful of your sleep hygiene, but also engaging in social activities and connections that are fulling to you," added Pozios.
Having social activities and connections is important to our mental health. The lack of it within the last two years has shown how vital it can be. But for those who may still feel hesitant to be social due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Pozios agrees, but again, everything in moderation.
"I want to make it abundantly clear that the pandemic is not over, and that people should get vaccinated and boosted. Hopefully, we’re going to be looking at warmer weather soon, so engaging in outdoor activities is certainly safer to do during the pandemic. Just getting outside, seeing other people, dining outdoors, engaging in physical activities outdoors," said Pozios.
The women behind Wondermind encourage creating a routine, to work through your feelings and better understand your mind. Having the right tools and community to support growth is vital. It also means committing to a daily practice, even when you feel out of your comfort zone, which according to Wondermind, shows it’s working.
With daily, moderate routines, comes a healthy work-life balance, which we all know is easier said than done. Dr. Pozios says with everything, it’s important to do what is fulfilling to you, but sometimes, that deadline may be calling you, or your kids may be literally calling you.
"One of the hardest things for people to do is to say no. And saying no is not always possible of course, given what our responsibilities to work and family are, however, if you can, try to exercise that ability," said Pozios. "It’s important to know when your cup is full, and practicing saying no in a polite manner, knowing when you're taking on too much, and limiting your over engagement and setting better boundaries can really benefit your mental health and wellness."
It all comes together because if you bend so much, you'll break, and you wouldn't be good for yourself, or anyone else at that point. Additionally, when it comes to self-care, of course, Dr. Pozios says though it is not therapy, it can be helpful to do things that make you feel good. But of course, not every person has the same needs, which can be difficult for couples, or for anyone you share a close relationship with, whether intimate, with family, or with work. So Dr. Pozios has a great tip that could assist in all of those areas of our lives, and potentially help with our work-life balance.
"I think everybody could benefit from a regular checkup from the neck-up, as we say. So just as we go in for a physical every year, we should get comfortable and normalize going to see a mental health professional on a regular basis, just to check-in, and take stock of your mental health," said Pozios.
Dr. Pozios wants us to be aware of a few signs that may mean, you should seek treatment: when any of your relationships seem negatively impacted, your feeling down or anxious, having trouble eating, sleeping, and concentrating.
If you do feel like you need help, Oakland Community Health Network (OCHN) has a 24-hour crisis helpline, 1-800-231-1127. For Oakland County residents, they also have a non-urgent line, 248-464-6363, as well as a non-emergency care center, at 1200 Telegraph Road, in Pontiac. For those who cannot afford this help, or do not have insurance, OCHN offers payment assistance or can help enroll in Medicaid, for those who qualify.
With mental illnesses on the rise, especially among women, who statically do take on the majority of responsibilities at home and at work, the need for more resources, such as Wondermind, are so vital. We all know the toll that stress takes on our bodies, so having help that is easy to access is important for our minds and bodies. Also adding actual mental health apps on your phone could serve as a booster. Helpful mental fitness apps are: Wysa: Mental Health Support and Bloom: CBT Therapy & Self-Help are two reputable mental health apps.
Additional local resources are always available at your doctor’s office, or online. The CDC has the People Seeking Help program, which offers specific resources based on your needs, such as LGBTQ+, veterans or active-duty military, and opioid treatment.
Other local programs include The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS)'s Community Mental Health Services Programs, The University of Michigan Health, Michigan Medicine’s Mental Health section, including their Mental Health Resource List
"Mental health treatment works, and we want to encourage people to normalize talking about mental health issues … Seeking help when it’s necessary," concluded Pozios.