This startup wants you to treat mental health like going to the gym

Again in November 2017,  Cleveland Cavaliers star Kevin Love had a panic assault throughout a house recreation towards the Atlanta Hawks.

“I used to be having hassle catching my breath,” he wrote in a piece for The Players’ Tribune the following March. “It’s arduous to describe, however all the things was spinning, like my mind was making an attempt to climb out of my head. The air felt thick and heavy. My mouth was like chalk. I keep in mind our assistant coach yelling one thing a couple of defensive set. I nodded, however I didn’t hear a lot of what he stated. By that time, I used to be freaking out.”

Right here was a professional athlete, amongst the better of the finest, and he was overtly speaking about his vulnerability. Right here was a person who had spent the higher a part of his life constructing his physique into an elite basketball machine, however who had not spent sufficient time on his thoughts. “It’s form of unusual when you give it some thought,” he wrote. “In the NBA, you have educated professionals to fine-tune your life in so many areas. Coaches, trainers, and nutritionists have had a presence in my life for years. However none of these folks might assist me in the approach I wanted once I was mendacity on the ground struggling to breathe.”

Coa cofounders Dr. Emily Anhalt (left) and Alexa Meyer [Photo: Kendall B. Schiff/Coa]

Now Love helps to launch Coa, quick for coalesce, the world’s first gym for mental health.


Based by Alexa Meyer and Dr. Emily Anhalt in 2019, Coa is a therapist-led, emotional health class platform that features therapist matchmaking, group courses, and one-on-one remedy. The concept is to make mental health a proactive and day by day apply—simply like bodily health. Coa’s packages are constructed on Dr. Anhalt’s research-driven technique on the 7 Traits of Emotional Fitness: self-awareness, empathy, play, curiosity, resilience, mindfulness, and communication.

“Coa actually aligns with all the things I’m about,” says Love. “It’s a proactive method to mental health. We’re making a protected place to discuss these powerful topics round mental health and mental wellness, in a bunch setting. There may be nothing like this on the market. This has by no means existed earlier than. It’s the first gym for mental health, which makes it tremendous thrilling to be part of.”

Meyer is a veteran of Interbrand and the analytics startup Eager IO, however she has at all times had an curiosity in mental health. She met Anhalt by Twitter, whereas placing collectively the concept for a pop-up mental health gym. The 2 launched pop-ups over the final two years in New York, San Francisco, L.A., Vancouver, and Toronto, in addition to conducting courses with staff at Asana, Spotify, and Salesforce.

Mental health and expertise has exploded since final yr, with manufacturers like BetterHelp and Talkspace seeing important boosts in person numbers, but additionally challenges in balancing wellness with Silicon Valley’s unending urge for food for progress. Hannah Zeavin, a UC Berkeley lecturer in English and creator of the forthcoming e book The Distance Cure: A History of Teletherapy, told The New York Times last year, “The app-ification of mental health care has actual issues. These are company platforms first. And so they supply remedy second.”

Meyer and Anholt say one differentiator between Coa and others is having a psychologist in Anhalt in the C-suite as chief scientific officer.

[Photo: Coa]

“Considered one of the causes I bought into this in the first place is that mental health is difficult, nuanced, and complicated, and I wished to ensure that it was completed thoughtfully,” says Anhalt, who factors to core tenets of the Coa method. First is making the apply proactive, like going to the gym. Second is scientific integrity. “This is de facto necessary,” says Anhalt. “As well as to having me as a scientific cofounder, all of our content material relies on analysis and scientific expertise, and it’s all created and facilitated by licensed therapists.”

There are free intro courses, and after that numerous courses vary in value from $25 to $30 per session. There are additionally a number of eight-week collection at launch, akin to Intro to Emotional Health, Emotional Health for Mental Wellness, and Emotionally Match Management. The unique plan was to arrange a couple of brick-and-mortar studios in New York and San Francisco, then broaden to a web based platform. The pandemic flipped that script, and Coa is launching as a digital providing, and looking out to arrange bodily areas in the close to future.


In creating Coa’s model, Meyer didn’t need it to really feel like a scientific healthcare model, however acquainted and relatable, utilizing a shade scheme of heat, earthy tones. “There’s this big wellness development taking place proper now, the place individuals are spending trillions of {dollars} a yr making an attempt to really feel higher, and there are some superb manufacturers, however none of them are rooted in scientific integrity and efficacy,” says Meyer. “So our model is a wedding of these two issues: scientific integrity and security, with this contemporary, accessible, enjoyable method.”

Considered one of the greatest classes from the pop-ups was how group courses had been an entry level into one-on-one remedy. A lot like a gym, the place courses can lead to signing up with a private coach. Speaking about mental health in the similar context as bodily health is a deliberate approach for Meyer and Coa to reinforce their message that mental health is finest supported out in the open.

“It’s a approach to preserve chipping away at the stigma,” says Love. “We now have to preserve speaking about it. You’re far much less probably to detect it if you’re not speaking about it, if you’re residing in the shadows.”