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Finding complaints about the cost and accessibility of mental health care is much easier than finding a therapist. Group therapy is more affordable but still an expensive and intimidating commitment. Text therapy like BetterHelp costs a lot more and often feels stilted. Now a new platform in Austin is paving the way for another option.

Although it may not completely replace the need for talk therapy, MindBar, which launched in July, spreads the workload of trainers and therapists across many clients, keeps things online, and ultimately sets users up at their own pace. Like MasterClass for Mental Health, the app lowers the barrier to entry to just $14.99 per month.

The one-way service definitely can’t listen and identify a user’s thought patterns or recommend personalized courses of action, but it can provide a wide range of useful fundamentals that can later be incorporated into talk therapy, augment more infrequent sessions, or simply facilitate some forethought and curiosity on the spirit.

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“MindBar has gained significant traction since its launch in July, and our members have enjoyed the wide range of tools for cultivating a healthy mind,” writes MindBar founder Hailey O’Neill in an email interview. “We wanted to espouse the idea that mental health is a right, not a luxury, and the growth we’ve already seen within our app and its members is beginning to live up to that aspiration.”

While MindBar isn’t therapy, it’s not YouTube either. The class takes an experience or topic—stress, grief, and self-esteem, to name a few—and breaks it down into video modules and worksheets. Each is organized and taught by a ‘teacher’ whose qualifications are clearly set out in her biography from ‘years of coaching’ to therapy certifications and doctorates. Instead of browsing individual videos, users join each class; It’s just one click, but it feels different than mental health apps that encourage tackling everything at once.

Example “Body Image” class: It contains six approximately 15-minute modules, each paired with a multi-part “worksheet” of open-ended questions and text boxes for journaling on the platform. These are then wrapped in a friendly little printout for those who would rather write. If a user chooses to moderate their own experience to simulate the engagement of a traditional therapy (let’s say 50 minutes every two weeks), just attending this class could fill six to 12 weeks. Compare $30 for two months of MindBar to $450 for three therapy sessions.

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As MindBar exposes a user to the theory and methods of a particular professional, more avenues for extracurricular or after-school work open up. Molly Seifert teaches “Body Image”. There is a link to her website and social media on Seifert’s MindBar biography page. Her credentials point to her 22-episode podcast, what she wonwhich adds about 10 hours of free content to a user’s journey should they follow her from the platform.

There’s a button to book a session — something MindBar is working on completing — and on Seifert’s website, she offers a more comprehensive “Body Confidence Program” that costs $897. Most users probably won’t sign up for a teacher’s nearly $1,000 group therapy track. However, there is an opportunity to follow this thread from a low point to a full-fledged customer-provider relationship.

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A 2021 report by Sapien Labs’ Mental Health Million Project 2021 found that in the United States, 37 percent of respondents who did not seek help for clinical mental health problems did so because they lacked confidence in the mental health system . Almost as many, 34 percent, didn’t know what kind of help to seek. More than a quarter preferred help for self-help. Imagine the change if these respondents had a self-directed platform with minimal engagement, directing them to professionals they have come to trust.

As of August 31, there are 26 classes on MindBar. One-to-one appointments with MindBar teachers became available on September 18th. Sign up at mind-bar.com.

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