Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the discussion surround mental health has grown exponentially. Issues like depression, PTSD, and anxiety are being openly addressed by celebrities, politicians and members of the media. But while mental health services have continued to improve, blind spots and barriers to access continue to exist. Brian Femminella and Travis Chen, founders of the new mental wellness app, SoundMind, are determined to change just that.
22-year-old co-founders, having both lost close friends to suicide, were determined to find a solution to what they saw as a mental health crisis. Enter SoundMind. The app utilizes sound and music therapy, coupled with artificial intelligence to help with combat stress, depression, overwork, anxiety, PTSD, and more. Users can access music and video therapy in the comfort of their own homes, as well as on the go – – an important resource for those who may not be able to afford, or feel comfortable in, a traditional therapy setting.
SoundMind CEO, Femminella, is an openly gay Army officer who publicly shares the challenges he’s faced being public with his sexuality. Knowing first-hand the issues that members of the LGBTQ+ community face, he and his team have partnered with organizations like Boys and Girls Clubs, The Trevor Project, NAMI and more to offer SoundMind as a resource for at-risk and LGBTQ+ youth. Chen, a 1st generation Taiwanese American, has long advocated for AAPI inclusion in the mental health conversation, a community which often shies away from openly discussing mental health issues.
“There have been numerous challenges along the way,” says Femminella, “but we were determined to provide important mental health resources to communities that need it. The pair shared that their age and LGBTQ+ advocacy were barriers to entry when they searched for VC funding. They prevailed, raising over $800,000 in pre-seed funding for the app. Femminella adds, “I think a lot of people can learn a lot [from our story] about tenacity when the odds are stacked against you.”
Femminella and Chen’s are hoping to position SoundMind as the premier app for mental health related issues. It is currently the only available on the market appropriate for adults, as well as children. The pair, who met as Congressional interns, are now working with legislators on Capitol Hill to provide SoundMind as a wellness resource to schools across the country.