Wellness, mental health, and mindfulness apps are experiencing a boom.
Recent years have seen millions of downloads as people around the world try to cope with stress, loneliness, and anxiety. According to one leading source, the digital mental health market is projected to reach $4.6bn by 2026.
Still, it has often been claimed that many of these apps do not cater to the specific challenges that Black, Indigenous, and people of color face.
However, that is slowly changing. The pandemic and widespread protests at racial injustice have fueled a surge in wellbeing platforms aimed at supporting underserved communities.
Here, we take a look at 10 of the apps and organizations in the space that are being led by people of color.
Marah Lidey is the co-founder of the popular app Shine alongside her business partner Naomi Hirabayashi. It is a daily self-care app that helps users ‘rest, heal, and grow through difficulty. The app includes over 600 guided meditations, community forums, and morning inspiration texts. There are also customizable mental health tool kits.
Lidey and Hirabayashi created the app in 2016. The two entrepreneurs said they didn’t see their experiences as people of color represented in mainstream wellness services and products. In its first year, Shine attracted over half a million users. It now has over four million users across 189 countries. Last year Apple named Shine one of its App Store Best of 2020 winners.
You can find out more info about Shine here
Mental health therapist Dr. Chanda Reynolds is the creator of Minds of the Culture. The mobile app is aimed at millennials who want to integrate therapy into their faith-based lifestyle.
Dr. Reynolds is passionate about showing that religion and traditional mental health therapy are complementary. The app includes a mood journal; Black therapist directory; blogs and videos about mental health matters; and faith-based coping techniques.
You can find out more info on Minds of the Culture here
Katara McCarty created the EXHALE app to provide what she calls “soul medicine” to women of color. McCarty believes that increasing reports of racial profiling and discriminatory policing have left many African Americans feeling traumatized.
The app provides tools to help users prioritize rest, self-care, and mindfulness. It has five sections that cover areas such as guided visualizations, breathing, and meditation techniques. It also includes podcast-like talks where McCarty shares anecdotes from her career as a coach in a bid to inspire listeners.
You can find out more info on EXHALE here
Kevin Dedner is the co-founder and CEO of digital mental health platform Hurdle. It specializes in supporting people from communities whose specific cultural experiences are often not met by mainstream therapy.
Users complete a quick registration form online. They are then matched via email with a therapist. All the therapists that Hurdle works with receive ongoing training to help improve their cultural responsiveness. Dedner, a former public health consultant, was inspired to start the company after noticing gaps in service provision for Black men in both his professional and personal life.
You can find out more info on hurdle here
Nathalie Walton is the CEO of Expectful, a wellness and meditation platform for fertility, pregnancy, and parenthood. The app was created by entrepreneur Mark Krassner after his mother struggled with depression and anxiety while raising him. Expectful includes personal stories, expert advice, and a library of meditations to aid sleep.
Walton held various senior roles at Airbnb, Google, and eBay before joining Expectful. The app was initially founded in 2018, and Walton was brought on in 2020She says she wants to build on the app’s success. Her plans include broadening its offerings and growing it into the market-leading wellness resource for women on their motherhood journey.
You can find out more info on Expectful here
Naj Austin, founder and CEO of Ethel’s Club, is building Somewhere Good to be a one-stop-shop for people of color. Beyond being a digital space of color to connect, it’s also about creating a safe space for users to be their authentic selves. Already, there are more than 5,000 people on the waitlist.
The social platform and mobile app recently raised a $3.75 million seed round of funding led by Silicon Valley venture capital firm True Ventures, with participation from investors Slauson & Co., NextView Ventures, Gabrielle Union, Ellen Pao of Project Include, among others. “I invested in Somewhere Good because I deeply believe in Naj’s vision of building safe and intentional digital spaces,” said actress Gabrielle Union.
You can find out more about Somewhere Good here.
Julio Rivera launched the Liberate Meditation app in 2019. It features a collection of talks and guided meditations from Buddhist teachers of color. Rivera says he wants the app to empower people from underrepresented communities on their journeys to find inner peace.
Users can sign up for free. The platform allows users to search for content either by teacher or by type of meditation. Content in the meditation section is organized into categories, such as gratitude, mindfulness, and self-worth.
You can find out more info about Liberate Meditation here
Aaron Warrick, Greg Wilson, and Dante’ Wade created the mental wellness app Elevate after meeting as students at Lincoln University, Pennsylvania. The decision to create an app was sparked by a conversation the trio had about the challenges of post-graduate life.
The three founders say they particularly wanted Elevate to provide support to black men who often suffer in silence when faced with mental illness. Users are provided with daily inspirational quotes and readings; self-improvement challenges; and interactive videos and podcasts. Elevate also provides self-care challenges and access to external mental wellness hotlines and groups.
You can find out more info about Elevate here
The Safe Place is a mental health app aimed at African Americans. It was created by New Orleans author and suicide survivor Jasmin Pierre.
She says the aim of the app is to remove the stigma that often surrounds mental health in the Black community. It features inspirational quotes and advice on breathing techniques, meditation, and exercise. The Safe Place also includes advice on how to cope with police brutality and statistics on Black mental health.
You can find out more info about The Safe Place here
CEO and Founder Eric Coly was inspired to create Ayanna Therapy after suffering from severe depression. The Senegal native wanted to find a therapist with a similar cultural background to his own.
The app matches people from marginalized communities to compatible licensed therapists. It aims to provide flexible and convenient support for people who need assistance from a therapist, based on their mental health needs and background. Users are provided with daily text support, video consultations, and phone consultations with licensed professionals.
You can find out more info about Ayana Therapy here