The U.S. is facing a crippling mental health crisis. According to the American Psychological Association, around 75 percent of adults experience stress levels that impact their mental health, and around a quarter of all adults have so much stress that they can barely function.
Research shows that men are less likely to seek out professional help than women when it comes to managing their mental health. And yet, men make up over 83 percent of all deaths by suicide.
That’s partly why Anson Whitmer created Mental, the world’s first mental health app designed specifically for men. He knows what it’s like to lose a male family member to suicide.
“When I was 19, my uncle, who was one of my best friends, killed himself,” he told USA Today. “He tried to get help, but none of the therapists or clinical approaches resonated with him. That motivated me to get a Ph.D. in Neuroscience. My research was driven by a desire to understand what causes men like my uncle to develop mood disorders like depression.”
There are some 20,000 mental health and wellness apps online, but few of them are tailored towards men. According to Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE), a male dies by suicide every 13.7 minutes in the U.S. There are also 3.9 male deaths by suicide for each female death by suicide.
Helping more men with their mental health may require changing the way this care is administered to patients.
“To fix the male suicide crisis, we have to be innovative with solutions that resonate with men,” Whitmer explained. “Tweaking existing approaches with new colors and app mascots doesn’t work. We must fundamentally rethink our approach by leveraging the wealth of scientific research at our disposal, by creating something tailored to men.”
He created the Mental app with Tyler Sheaffer. Both were among the founders of Calm, the biggest mental health app in the world, but they said the approach wasn’t jiving with men.
“At Calm, I saw how powerful a great app can be at helping people improve their lives,” Sheaffer explained, “but like every other tool, the approach just didn’t resonate with most men. So, Anson and I set out to build a great app, this time, specifically for men.”
They hired comedian/writer Jason Kyle to help implement directives and language that appeals to men. “Mental enables men to take immediate action to bring down stress, as opposed to waiting on hold, rescheduling appointments, and endless red tape and bureaucracies,” Kyle added.
The app features an easy-to-use interface that lets men take charge of their mental health. It comes with evidence-based tools that let users monitor their stress levels.
“Mental focuses on helping every man be the man they want to be, and have the potential to be, through tailored skill development that immediately feels relatable and applicable to their life,” said Matt Englar-Carlson, the app’s in-house men’s mental health expert. “There is incredible value in strengthening one’s mindset and having a healthier, purpose-driven life.”
Users start their day with a simple, two-minute routine known as the “Daily Deuce,” which encourages men to keep a log of their feelings. It also prompts an AI that converts the findings into actionable steps.
“It’s like an Andrew Huberman podcast but instead of 2 hours of science words, it’s condensed down to a 2-minute key takeaway in the style of George Carlin,” said Kyle. “It’s a guy’s daily multivitamin of science, wisdom, and motivation. It’s a short, tactical masterclass for 365 days of the year. And best of all, you swap out the morning doom-scroll by listening to your Daily Deuce while taking your daily deuce.”
It also includes stress-control techniques like the Cold Shower Protocol, guided by Navy SEAL Master Chief Stephen Drum, which focuses on deep breathing, thought control, and relaxation.
At just $40 a month, the app also costs less than the average cost of a therapist.
“Mental helps men strengthen their mindset to control stress, build healthy habits, and live a life of purpose,” Whitmer concluded. “It’s time for a mental health app for men. It’s time for men to get mental.”