Mental health changes for good
“If you could work on anything—money was no object and it was purely about passion and something you felt deeply driven about— what would it be?”
That’s the question TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie posed to his friend Pat Dossett several years ago while they were on a surfing trip. And when Dossett answered that he was interested in the concept of human potential and performance—something, he says, that comes from his former life as a member of a Navy Seal team and seeing ordinary people do extraordinary things—it started the duo down a path of developing a universal wellness platform. The result was Madefor, a program with the goal of improving mental and physical well-being by increasing mindfulness and building positive, lasting habits.
It now seems prescient, but Madefor went live in March 2020 just as COVID-19 lock-downs were beginning to take effect across the U.S. and many adults and teens began facing various pandemic-related issues like depression, anxiety, digital burnout and isolation. According to the American Psychological Association, as people looked for support, the number of mental health apps available skyrocketed. Though apps can be helpful, the big drawback is they keep people connected to their digital devices.
And that’s what makes Madefor different. The 10-month program presents 10 challenges—one a month—to participants, each one lasting 21 days. The challenges are designed to be tech-free and achievable. Though some may seem deceptively simple, like Hydration or Rest, the point is to do each one with intention so that a positive change is registered by your brain.
The concept is based on the brain plasticity work of neuroscientist and Stanford professor Andrew Huberman. It’s the idea that your brain can adapt to new behaviors either through an intense experience like a car accident or small steps done with intention over time. To round out the program, Dossett and Mycoskie enlisted a team of professionals ranging from psychiatrists and psychologists to wellness and human-performance experts.
Each challenge comes with its own guide- book that outlines a step-by-step approach; alternatively, members can purchase a physical tool kit of materials including cards to track their progress and a reminder bracelet. Another key component of the program is daily journaling to help foster intentionality and awareness. It’s the big differentiator for Madefor from the world of wellness apps and has been proven effective through Huberman’s research. “The point is to bring attention to something you do every day, understand the effect it has and reinforce the positive benefits through reflection and journaling,” explains Dossett.
Proving how popular Madefor has become in just 21⁄2 years is its diverse membership, which spans all 50 states and 42 countries. Members range in age from 17 to 91, and the platform is free to active U.S. military, veterans and their dependents. Participants can connect with others in the Madefor community through online events, articles and weekly emails and share their experiences with the program or discuss how they navigated difficult challenges.
And that, as Dossett points out, is what Madefor is ultimately about: finding a way to help people show up better for themselves and lift everyone else around them in the process. Recent events have left people feeling that much of life is beyond their control, and this program is built to give people the tools to get back on track and be their best. “Every- one is dealing with something—whether it’s terminal illness, divorce, loss of job, or their home has burned down,” says Dossett. “Despite the uniqueness of the challenges people are facing, the underlying work they’re doing with Madefor helps them navigate uncertainty better and grow through that process.”