91 episodes

Stephen Hays is a recovering addict, living with type-1 bipolar disorder. He spent years living in addiction, and with untreated mental illness while he went from West Point graduate, to Wall Street Banker to nearly taking his own life when he hit bottom. On this show you will hear stories of addiction, mental illness, recovery, hope, and wellness. You will also hear from clinicians, experts, doctors, entrepreneurs and others who are trying to lead other people to wellness. We would love to hear your story too!

Stigma Podcast - Mental Health Stephen Hays

    • Health & Fitness
    • 4.9 • 82 Ratings

Stephen Hays is a recovering addict, living with type-1 bipolar disorder. He spent years living in addiction, and with untreated mental illness while he went from West Point graduate, to Wall Street Banker to nearly taking his own life when he hit bottom. On this show you will hear stories of addiction, mental illness, recovery, hope, and wellness. You will also hear from clinicians, experts, doctors, entrepreneurs and others who are trying to lead other people to wellness. We would love to hear your story too!

    #92 - Jane Technologies Founder Soc Rosenfeld on the Future of Cannabis Retail Tech

    #92 - Jane Technologies Founder Soc Rosenfeld on the Future of Cannabis Retail Tech

    What is the future of legal cannabis from a retail / e-commerce perspective?  Today's guest, Socrates Rosenfeld, Co-Founder and CEO of Jane Technologies explains.  Jane is an e-commerce solution for the Cannabis space that supports nearly 3,000 dispensaries and handles more than 20% of the legal Cannabis transactions in the U.S. each year. 
    Prior to founding Jane, Soc was a consultant at McKinsey and Company.  Before that, he served in the US Army as an Apache Helicopter Pilot from 2004-2011.  Soc earned an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management and his undergrad degree my alma mater, West Point.
    Soc has a very personal reason for building Jane, that he’s going to share with us in a few minutes.  He’s one of the most impressive founders I’ve ever met and we at What If Ventures have had the chance to get to know him in 2021 as we were a small part of their most recent funding round and have been able to witness first-hand what an amazing operator he is. 


    You can connect with Soc here:  LinkedIn
    What If Fellowship: https://whatif.vc/fellowship
     
    HERE ARE SOME OF THE THINGS WE TALKED ABOUT:
    Soc shares his journey from the Army to eventually founding a Canmnabis retail tech platform beacuase of his own personal experience struggling with mental heatlh after the Army.


    We discuss Jane’s platform and how Jane is not only revolutionizing the Cannabis retail world, but how Jane's novel approach to e-commerce will transform broader e-commerce which hasn't seen real disruption since the creation of decades old platforms like Amazon.


    Soc shares what it was like to face the stigma around Cannabis and the challenges/benefits that came with creating a company in this space.


    We discuss the legistlative environment around Cannabis, false information about the plant (and industry) that has been spread over the years, and the effect it has had on people finding and using this solution.


    Soc talks about what Jane is focused on today while they await legislative changes and a more broad based acceptance of cannabis usage in the U.S. 


    Soc tells us about the biggest challenges that come with being an entrepreneur and the importance of believing in yourself.


    We discuss tips for entrepreneurs who are wanting to get into the Cannabis space and what advice Soc wishes he would have received when he first started.  
    Connect with the Stigma Podcast in the following ways: What If Fellowship, Website, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Email
    Connect with host Stephen Hays here: Stephen Hays Personal Website, Twitter, LinkedIn, What If Ventures (Mental Health Venture Fund)

    • 45 min
    #91 - Modern Health Co-Founder and CEO Alyson Watson

    #91 - Modern Health Co-Founder and CEO Alyson Watson

    Alyson Watson is CEO and co-founder of Modern Health, a mental health unicorn!  Modern Health is a global mental health benefits solution for employers that covers the spectrum of mental wellbeing needs from tech enabled solutions to professional support solutions on one platform.
    You can connect with Alyson here:  LinkedIn
    What If Fellowship: https://whatif.vc/fellowship
     
    HERE ARE SOME OF THE THINGS WE TALKED ABOUT:
    Alyson shares her background with mental health, her education, and how it led her to the mental health space. She also shares about Modern Health and what their mission is.


    Alyson talks about Y Combinator, what the process looks like as a startup who applies, the benefits from it and the difference it made for her when starting up Modern Health.


    We discuss the stigma and lack of access that used to surround mental health support from employers and how Modern Health is helping to solve these issues.


    We talk about how mental health problems limit productivity and how this is a societal problem, not only in the workplace but in personal lives as well.


    Alyson shares what more she thinks companies can do to promote mental wellness with their employees.


    We discuss the vision for Modern Health and where she sees the company going in the future.


    Alyson shares her advice for those who are wishing to start up their own company and what she wishes she knew when she started.  
    Connect with the Stigma Podcast in the following ways: What If Fellowship, Website, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Email
    Connect with host Stephen Hays here: Stephen Hays Personal Website, Twitter, LinkedIn, What If Ventures (Mental Health Venture Fund)

    • 35 min
    #90 - Spring Health CEO April Koh - On Building a Mental Health Unicorn

    #90 - Spring Health CEO April Koh - On Building a Mental Health Unicorn

    April Koh is the youngest female founder to ever take a startup from just an idea to unicorn status.  We are so excited that she’s accomplished this in the mental health space, and we are excited for you to meet her and learn more about her Company, Spring Health!  For those who may not be familiar, Spring Health is a provider of mental health benefits to employers for their employees, and their employees’ families. 
    Spring Health’s product is a "precision mental healthcare" platform that matches a company’s employees to the most effective care for each employee. These care solutions that employees are matched to include (but are not limited to) mindfulness and meditation applications, care navigation tools, access to coaching services, therapy, and medication management.
    To date, Spring Health has raised $300mm of capital and April and her team are truly pioneers in the mental health benefits space.  Their recent funding round valued the company at $2 billion and April herself, is now the youngest female founder to lead a unicorn startup!  She’s truly amazing and I’m excited to share our conversation!
    You can connect with April on LinkedIn: April’s LinkedIn Page

    Spring Health Website:  https://www.springhealth.com/

    What If Fellowship: https://whatif.vc/fellowship
     
    HERE ARE SOME OF THE THINGS WE TALKED ABOUT:
    April shares the founding story of Spring Health with us. She explains how she came up with the idea and tells the impressive story about how she put a minimum viable product (MVP) together in short order, impressed her soon to be co-founder to join her team, and brought a business to life at lighting speed.


    April is the youngest female founder to grow a startup to unicorn status, EVER! We talked with her about what this accomplishment means for her, for female founders and for the mental health space in general.


    April shares about her journey to realize there was a problem worth solving in this space, coming up with an idea, deciding to start a business and the path that she and the business took in the early days.


    April talks with us about what Spring Health looked like in those early days including how she recruited her co-founder, which is quite an interesting and inspiring story.


    We talked further about exactly what Spring Health is from a business point of view, how they win customers, what exactly they provide, and how they get paid.


    April shared her vision for the future of the business and more broadly, the future of the mental health care landscape.


    We always love to ask pioneers in the mental health space where they view the biggest opportunities in our space (of course, outside of what they are currently building) and April’s answers there were certainly insightful for anyone looking to build a mental health startup.


    Finally, April provides advice and “lessons learned” that she wished she had known in the early days. I found her answers to be so helpful I believe every founder in this space could learn from April. 
    Connect with the Stigma Podcast in the following ways: Website, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Email

    Connect with host Stephen Hays here: Stephen Hays Personal Website, Twitter, LinkedIn, What If Ventures (Mental Health Venture Fund)
     

    • 35 min
    #89 - The Future of Precision Psychiatry with Dr. Amit Etkin of Alto Neuroscience

    #89 - The Future of Precision Psychiatry with Dr. Amit Etkin of Alto Neuroscience

    Dr. Amit Etkin is pioneering a revolution in the way mental health medications are designed, developed, prescribed, and brought to market.  Precision psychiatry is the future of mental health treatment and Dr. Etkin is leading the way with his drug development platform, Alto Neuroscience.  In this episode, Dr. Etkin explains why psychiatric drugs have failed, what he is doing about it and why it will work. 
    Prior to Alto Neuroscience, Dr. Etkin was a tenured professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and a member of the Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute. Dr. Etkin has received multiple awards, most notably the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award in 2017. He is trained as both a psychiatrist and neuroscientist.
    The overarching aim of his work in this field for the last 10 years is to understand the neural basis of emotional disorders and their treatment, and to leverage this knowledge to better understand how the brain works and to develop novel treatment interventions. In support of this goal, Dr. Etkin also collaborates with neuroscientists, engineers, psychologists, physicians, and others to establish a new intellectual, scientific, and clinical paradigm for understanding and manipulating human brain circuits in healthy individuals and for treating psychiatric disease.
    You can connect with Amit here:  LinkedIn
    Alto Neuroscience Website: https://www.altoneuroscience.com/
    What If Fellowship: https://whatif.vc/fellowship
     
    HERE ARE SOME OF THE THINGS WE TALKED ABOUT:
    Etkin shares his background, why he got into the field of neuroscience, and why he is building Alto Neuroscience.


    We discuss the biggest needs in the clinical psychology world is and how Alto Neuroscience will solve some of the greatest needs in the mental health space.


    We talk about measurement & testing, as well as biomarkers in the mental health space at large and why we are so far behind other healthcare verticals when it comes to measurement and testing in the mental health space.


    Etkin explains that one of the primary reasons bio-pharma companies haven’t focused as much as they should on Central Nervous System (CNS) drug development in the last couple of decades is because we can’t effectively measure how the drugs are working. All of that has changed now with the creation of Alto Neuroscience. 


    Amit talks about the concept of “precision psychiatry”, how precision is utilized in other fields of medicine, and the importance of using it in the mental health space to improve treatment options.


    We discuss how the combination of measurement and precision psychiatry can change psychiatry, drug development, and treatment of mental health disorders both broadly on a macro level and specifically with respect to his work at Alto Neuroscience.


    Amit shares about what Alto Neuroscience is currently working on, the drugs they currently developing, and their vision for the future of psychiatric medication.  
    Connect with the Stigma Podcast in the following ways: Website, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Email


    Connect with host Stephen Hays here: Stephen Hays Personal Website, Twitter, LinkedIn, What If Ventures (Mental Health Venture Fund)

    • 50 min
    #88 - _able Partners Founding Partner Amanda Eilian - A Pioneer in Mental Health Investing

    #88 - _able Partners Founding Partner Amanda Eilian - A Pioneer in Mental Health Investing

    Amanda Eilian, Founding Partner of _able Partners joins us to talk all things mental health startup investing. _able Partners is an early-stage VC firm supporting visionary founders in the positive living space. Their investments focus on companies that improve the daily lives of people, making them healthier, happier, and making their lives more meaningful. Some specific investment areas include mental health, addiction, women’s health, sexual wellness, wellness broadly, coaching and continued learning, child care, and self-expression. Amanda has led incredible early stage investments in companies like Spring Health, Compass Pathways, ATAI Life Sciences, Alma, Alto Neuroscience, and many others.
    You can connect with Amanda here:  _able Partners Website, LinkedIn
    What If Fellowship: https://whatif.vc/fellowship
     
    HERE ARE SOME OF THE THINGS WE TALKED ABOUT:
    Amanda shares her background that led her to venture investing, creating _able Partners, and the focus of _able Partners.


    We discuss the areas and companies where _able has focused on which have been stigmatized in the past including mental health and addiction.


    Amanda shares about her team, how they are non-traditional, and what that looks like in terms of their professional interactions as a company.


    We discuss current themes in the mental health space and where investors should be looking to get involved in this space including accessibility, personalized care, and measurement and monitoring.


    Amanda shares what type of funding _able is interested in, their focus in early stage investing, and what criteria they look for when choosing who to work with.


    We talk about why stigma is starting to decrease and the possible causes for this wave of de-stigmatization.


    We discuss the lack of access, the shortage of psychiatrists across the country, and more issues surrounding mental health care and Amanda shares her ideas for what needs to happen to address these issues.  
    Connect with the Stigma Podcast in the following ways: What If Fellowship, Website, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Email
    Connect with host Stephen Hays here: Stephen Hays Personal Website, Twitter, LinkedIn, What If Ventures (Mental Health Venture Fund)

    • 37 min
    #87 - Brain Computer Interfaces - A Primer with John Donoghue

    #87 - Brain Computer Interfaces - A Primer with John Donoghue

    Today’s guest is John Donoghue. He is well known for his groundbreaking work developing Brain Computer Interfaces (BCIs) to restore movement for people with paralysis, known as ‘BrainGate’. BrainGate was the original BCI system created by a company called Cyberkinetics, of which John was a co-founder.
    In this episode, John gives us a primer on BCIs.  What are they? How do they work? When will they be widely adopted?  Are they safe?  How do we know?  We cover these questions and much more.
    Many people consider John to be the founder of the entire discipline of neuroprosthetics which is the combination of neuroscience and biomedical engineering. He was a member of the U.S. B.R.A.I.N. initiative’s first NIH Working Group and is a fellow of the National Academy of Medicine, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as several other academies. His awards include the German Zülch Prize (2007), the Roche-Nature Medicine Prize (2010), the Schrödinger Prize (Germany, 2012), and the first Israeli Brain Technology Prize in 2013.
    Links Mentioned:  BrainGate Website, John’s email
    What If Fellowship: https://whatif.vc/fellowship
     
    HERE ARE SOME OF THE THINGS WE TALKED ABOUT:
    John shares his background in biology, his fascination with the way our brains control and plan movement which ultmiately led him to explore how we can use computers to restore that functionality via Brain Computer Interfaces (BCIs) one day.


    John has spent more than 30 years focused on the potential of using BCIs to solve some of the most debilitating physical ailments that humans face.


    In this conversation, John gives an in-depth explanation of what a BCI is, how it works, the different types that are available, and the variety of uses that can come from each type.


    We discuss where BCIs started in the early 2000’s in human trials, the advancement of the technology since then and where we are today.


    John shares how he sees this technology being used on a larger scale, what is currently holding it back, and what it will take to get it to be used in more humans in the coming years.


    John shares where he thinks the opportunities are for entrepreneurs in this space and how to get involved in this technology and transform it for more uses.


    We discuss the ethical considerations around reading brain signals and using computers to send signals back to the brain telling it how to move the body and eventually, adjusting how people think and feel.  
    Connect with the Stigma Podcast in the following ways: What If Fellowship, Website, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Email
    Connect with host Stephen Hays here: Stephen Hays Personal Website, Twitter, LinkedIn, What If Ventures (Mental Health Venture Fund)

    • 48 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
82 Ratings

82 Ratings

ray22ray ,

Really enjoyed this

I have binged this entire podcast, only have a few more episodes left. So valuable and rich with helpful information while spreading awareness. Thank you so much for creating this space. I am creating a mental health startup and this has been so inspiring.

Br2345 ,

Best podcast about mental health

Stigma podcast is by far the most important and impactful content available regarding mental health investing and about trends in mental health overall. Thank you Steven for doing this important work!!!

Anonymous-Stay Strong ,

Ridiculous

Stay strong Steve.

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