It's Etsy for your mind: the world's first marketplace for mental health and personal growth tools
|Whitney Fishburn||Jun 12|| 1|
vol. 2 issue 30
I love this podcast episode with Marie Leznicki. She’s the creator of Mindstead.org, the world’s first marketplace of personal growth tools, including for a variety of mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression. Imagine it being like Etsy, only for personal growth and mental fitness, a sort of 24/7 mental health fair.
What’s exciting to me about this is how it offers virtually everyone access to the wide range of mental health tools and modalities that otherwise would remain out of reach either because of insurance restrictions, budget, or simply unfamiliarity with the number of techniques that exist.
The tools are all vetted, and either evidence-based or validated, created by a range of credentialed therapists, life coaches, best-selling authors and Ted Talkers, all dedicated to helping individuals free themselves of the emotional and mental blockages that keep them from fully living a purposeful, intentional life.
Marie explains in this podcast how she saw a need for the “middle range” of people who aren’t in acute mental health crisis or who don’t have gobs of cash to pay for elite mental fitness services, but who nonetheless want to find professional support for their personal growth goals, whether it be to quell their anxiety or live life more purposefully.
Similarly, therapists and others who have developed tools but who only have so many hours in the day to work with their patients and clients can now have a wider reach, and can also improve their methodologies using feedback from Mindstead’s customer review process.
Whereas self help books don’t offer support, apps are costly and might not suit a person’s style and personality, Mindstead offers a range of options such as cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, meditation, breath work, and many other techniques you might not be aware exist, but which might be exactly what fits your goals. Often, this leads to working one-on-one with therapists per your own budget and other considerations, or to “cross-training” the mind with a combination of techniques.
What I love about Mindstead is that above and beyond its egalitarian yet individualized approach to centralizing the supply and demand for tools of mental balance, it offers a way to avoid being, as Marie calls it, “mind hacked”, and thus helps us expand our individual freedom. This aligns with the raison d’etre of docu-mental, which is dedicated to mapping and documenting the connections between democracy and our personal empowerment, our freedom, and ultimately how these lead to peace.
Our minds are the last frontier, even beyond space. Our minds and our imaginations are infinite, unlike all the other resources on this planet. That’s why “they” — whomever they are, whether it be purveyors of goods, religions, or politics — are coming for our minds. If we don’t protect them, grow them, guard them, and exercise them, then someone else will, and we will lose control over the one thing we have that connects us to our future, grounds us in the now, and delineates our uniqueness.
Marie abandoned her original plans to pursue a PhD in anthropology, instead applying her years of training in it to creating better branding. “It was ‘anthropology for evil’,” Marie jokes. Her head for business and marketing led Marie to work with Bridge International Academies, where she strategized the founding and development of more than 900 schools primarily in Africa, where access to any kind of formal education was lacking. Over the decade she worked in Africa, Marie saw how when academics were paired with social and emotional skills, children developed more resilience as well as academic success, yet often these skills were not modeled in their homes. This got Marie thinking about how to offer adults access to tools for personal growth, for those interested in taking the path of radical self-care.
Eventually, this led her to create Mindstead.
The name “Mindstead” is inspired by the Homestead Act that was passed around the time of the US Civil War. The ethos was if you could sow your own land, you could own your land. Marie’s idea is that if we can sow our minds, we can own our minds. Then not only can we live our lives with intension and purpose, we can be more useful to our communities.
“It’s the best of America. You can pursue your own happiness,” Marie says in the podcast.
Our conversation also explores how when people are not given this freedom, but instead embody what others tell them is true about who they are, instead of who they know themselves to be, entire populations can develop tendencies for certain diseases. In our conversation, I muse how genomic data already gathered by researchers could be interpreted to show how systemic racism and anti-Semitism results in black and Eastern European Jewish communities having higher rates of irritable bowel diseases, just as one example of how systemic beliefs impact our health and wellness.
In this conversatoin, we also consider the future of mental health treatments and what will be the fate of influences we currently do not or cannot measure because we can’t “see” them.
In the end, this podcast got me thinking about how an individual who is happier, healthier, more rooted in a personal truth based on one’s own beliefs and values, is an individual who will be more connected to others, and will create a strong societal fabric. In other words, there is strength in diversity, where each of us can choose our life’s tone and nuance. The more choice, the more innovation and creativity. This leads to progress, and ultimately, to peace.
Photo compliments of Marie Leznicki, pictured here.