It was February 2019. I was standing with my buddy Brett in the kitchen of a house he and his family rented in Longboat Key, Florida. We were having a beer getting ready to go grab dinner. We were reminiscing, laughing a bit, and talking work. It was at this time that he said the following:
“Ya know Steve, I get what you do as a counseling and sport performance psychologist. I kinda wish I would have chatted with someone when I was playing baseball in college. It would have been nice to just call someone occasionally, even if just for a couple minutes. But instead, you had to call ahead for an appointment, go to an office, fill out a bunch of paperwork, and make it a big deal. I would have just wanted to call someone occasionally and quickly to talk some shit out.”
It was at that moment where I realized something had to be done. But first, a bit of context. I am Steve Graef. Founder and Owner of Mindurance. I am also a board certified and licensed Counseling Psychologist with a specialization in sport and performance psychology, as well as a former collegiate football player at The Ohio State University. So, I have spent my life devoted to the learning and application of psychological theory and practice, and have a fairly decent understanding of the bi-directional impact that “mental health” can have on sport and performance and vice versa. I also understand how mental health can be appropriately managed and I understand, and have personally experienced, what can happen when it is not. And I know the pros and cons associated with both traditional and modern methods of assessing, diagnosing, and managing psychological concerns.
As a result, when my friend disclosed his thoughts, I couldn't disagree. I too have felt for a little while that there was something amiss about the field. That somehow in the process of raising awareness and necessity around mental health care we have instead become hypersensitive to it and have overemphasized the possibility of being one of those people that develop advanced depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc. In doing so, we may have left the larger majority of the population out of the discussion and perhaps further ostracized them into thinking that “they're not depressed enough or anxious enough or fucked up enough” to warrant help for these things that people are now talking about. A few statistics. According to National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) approximately 20% of American adults will experience a psychological illness over the next year. Further, it is estimated that we have a 50% chance of experiencing some mental illness by the time we are 75 years of age. So though those statistics represent millions of people and is not something we want to ignore, let us realize that those numbers also show that the majority of us will be mostly psychologically well during the next year, and likely the rest of our lives. So, let it be stated that the MAJORITY…yes the MAJORITY of individuals do not have and likely will not have a severe psychological disorder. However, EVERYONE experiences stress that could better be managed and wish to do life a little bit better than they currently are. This majority is the population that Mindurance aims to address. Why? Well, its the majority. It's also preventive. Assuming there is no genetic predisposition for severe mental illness, the majority of us will be predominantly mentally well as long as we take care of ourselves. Take care of ourselves physically, nutritionally, socially, spiritually, and yes mentally. And what does taking care of ourselves involve? Well, for the minority, it is in-depth intense psychological treatment. Deep diving into years of trauma or attempting to use frequent counseling, latest medications or technological advances to manage intense, frequent, and highly disruptive psychological symptoms. However, for most people, it involves basic stress management, talking things out, brainstorming ideas, learning new tactics, getting better sleep. These simple, non-serious approaches can be enough to manage stress (hence reducing the likelihood of having worsened mental health) and enhance the performance of and productivity towards our life pursuits. So I repeat, for the majority of us, our mental health is not super serious in nature, but it is important. Much like blood pressure. Blood pressure is important. Many of us have fine blood pressure. But if we eat like shit, stop exercising, and overwork ourselves, our blood pressure will get out of hand. However, simple tactics can keep most of our blood pressure within fairly healthy limits.
Let's consider a change. The current model of counseling is based on an outdated premise. Going back to Freud's Psychoanalysis, it was assumed that you went to see an analyst (psychologist) when something was wrong with you and to correct any dis-ease that was prominent in your life. Despite counseling psychology appropriately evolving theories of change and realizing that people can also be psychologically-well, the infrastructure of the counseling endeavor remains the same. Drive to an office. Sit in the waiting room. Fill out the paperwork. Go in the room. Close the door. Give your entire history. To the person with the credentials. Fill the full hour. Pay the receptionist. Schedule for next week. Try to leave unrecognized. Rinse and repeat. Now again, this model isn't awful. But it isn't for everyone. And it doesn't need to be. It doesn't have to be. It shouldn't be.
How about this? What if you could go to a website that had a bunch of specific information addressing your particular needs or concerns. You could do your own reading, listening, or studying on the topic(s) of your choice. This “self-help” might just give you the insight necessary to manage whatever stress you have going on or help positively influence the mental component of your particular performance activity. So far so good? Cool. Well maybe that doesn't quite cut it for you. You want a little additional accountability. Maybe you just like talking things out so they make more sense to you. Maybe you do like the idea of chatting with someone that knows a lot about your particular concerns or have answers to the questions that you seek. Though, admittedly, you don't want to drive anywhere extra. You're not sure if you want to commit to the full hour. You certainly don't want to wait 3 weeks to talk to someone. You also, likely, don't want to be “forced” to see a practitioner you don't vibe with solely because they are the only person in town. What if instead you had choice? You didn't have to drive anywhere. You didn't have to commit to lengthy sessions. You didn't have to tell your entire life story on a document that people might not even read. What if you could call who you want…when you want…from where you want….for as long as you want…to get the support you want. That is what Mindurance Now offers. You can search and find the provider that works for you. That fits in your budget. That knows your sport or dance or job. That is available when you are. Now imagine calling them and paying for each minute you use, rather than feeling compelled to fill an hour that you might not have had in the first place. Choice indeed. Now suppose you value community. You would love to eventually meet your provider. Interact with like minded performers. Receive more intensive training at premier locations. Well Mindurance Live offers a re-thinking and tooling of how such interaction and development can occur. Intrigued?? Well you came to the right place.
So almost one year ago, thanks to that conversation, I decided to supplement the field of sport and performance psychology by offering a set of products and services that help athletes, performing artists, and professionals manage stress and enhance performance. This is what Mindurance does. It isn't meant to take away from the important, necessary, and traditional models of care that already exist. But it is meant to offer something new, something unique, and something relevant to that majority of the population outside of the 20%, that still have questions that need answered, behaviors that need changed, stress that needs managed, performance that needs enhanced, and concerns that need heard. If that's you, welcome to the movement, let's have a conversation.