Masawa Minute 36
The secret to a good night’s sleep | Should foundations expand their focus? | + More!
This is the Masawa Minute — mental wellness, social impact, and impact investing snippets on what we’re pondering + where you can get active.
We’ve read many articles this week, but the topic connecting the ones that made it to the newsletter is a shift in perspective. From moving to a more intersectional focus as a foundation to rethinking how we perceive the minimum wage and its link to people’s wellbeing, we hope you enjoy them and learn something new!
This week we’re exploring the importance of shifting perspectives on capital.
Capital falls into many silos. Venture capital invested in high risk for high returns. Grants further recipients’ missions with no financial return. A not-new concept (in the US) of combining no/low-return capital with high return capital in a blended pool has been top of mind for us the past few weeks. This catalytic capital allows the financial intermediary (like Masawa) to take additional sector/founder/geographic risk while acting as a first-loss cushion for traditional investors.
Masawa has always been structured to invest using a blended pool approach, but as we’re talking to more foundations and investors, we’re surprised that this catalytic capital concept isn’t picking up more speed in Europe.
Interested in helping others shift their perspectives, too?
We have an exciting event to share! Our friend Nadjeschda Taranczewski from ConsciousU is running a workshop on building conscious tribes — a mindful approach to forming the circle of people around us. How do we create a collective where individuals can truly realize their potential? How can we build an organization that fosters belonging and attracts the right people? We’ll find the answers to all these questions and more.
The interactive workshop will take place next Thursday, May 20, 2021. Nadja will present us with an innovative self-assessment for collectives from her upcoming book “The Conscious Tribe Playbook” and explore the eight dimensions of the Conscious Tribe Wheel — the central building blocks of a conscious collective — together with the participants. The workshop will be recorded. We can’t wait to see you there!
⚡️ Take action
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, this week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and May 20 is Mental Health Action Day, in which we’re taking part and you should too! While mental health matters every day of the year, it’s a nudge for us to check in with our own mental wellbeing more often, have an open conversation with a friend or contribute to the projects making mental health more accessible in our communities.
This day is about action — from taking an extra step in our mental wellness practices to advocating for policy changes that would allow mental health to be prioritized and the people to get the tools and support they need. The action has to be taken now so that all of us can be empowered to fulfill our potential and work together towards a world we want to see in the future. If you’re unsure of what to do yet, check out the resources on the event page and keep an eye out for the initiatives to join. Let’s do this!
What we’re reading…
🎩 Increasing philanthropic impact
The problems we face are large-scale, messy, interconnected, and often we focus on treating the symptoms rather than getting to the root causes and tackling the shortcomings in the related systems. This approach is highly prevalent in philanthropy. It’s partly because it’s far easier to measure impact when focusing on outputs rather than systems change, but also because often foundations are set up to be segmented and siloed in the problems they tackle and people they serve.
It’s entirely possible for the foundations to reorient their mission and broaden their focus, moving closer to achieving a lasting impact and effectively addressing the societal challenges. Going through the change can be tricky, but there are some tried and true approaches that can make it a little bit easier.
A foundation needs to make new connections. They tend to be risk-averse and stick with organizations that do good work for a long time rather than seek new partners, but often shifting the focus means rethinking the partner list. Changing the size of the grants offered can also be a powerful way to transform the relationship with the grant recipients and build partnerships that are aligned with the broader mission. Lastly, when going through a change, it’s crucial to rethink all the organizational aspects and examine all the operations through a new lens.
Certainly, not all foundations need to go through a significant transformation of their mission and focus. Yet every foundation should examine how they can increase their impact and contribute to lasting positive change. Change can begin in small steps, like investing in more research and advocacy projects with sector-wide significance. But if along the way it becomes clear that committing to a change is the best way to help the world and stay vital, it’s a leap foundations shouldn’t hesitate to make.
🛏 What’s the secret to a good night’s sleep?
A mindfulness and meditation app Headspace has once again teamed up with Netflix — this time for a series on a better approach to sleep. The seven-part series narrated by Eve Lewis Prieto, director of meditation at Headspace, tackles wide-spread sleep myths and offers a wind-down exercise at the end of the 15-minute episodes. Can you drink coffee in the afternoon? Does exercising in the evening keep you away? Should you use your phone before bed? The series promises answers to all of these questions and more.
At least a third of adults experience issues that take away from the quality of their sleep — like struggling to fall asleep or waking up throughout the night. According to a growing body of research, a more mindful approach to rest can help. The stress and anxiety that we experience daily have a great negative influence on our ability to get a good night’s sleep — our bodies deal with it by releasing cortisol and adrenaline, and at night our worries tend to become even more prevalent.
Headspace’s philosophy is that there’s no silver bullet that will make us instantly sleep better. It’s natural to be seeking a quick fix, but the only way to improve our sleep in a lasting way is by practicing mindfulness and changing our relationship with sleep and our emotions. Only once we become more aware of our thoughts, emotions, and the impact they have on us can we learn to distance ourselves from them before bedtime.
🌺 ifeel — the mental wellness solution for all
It’s no secret that the pandemic has been a great year for mental health startups. The investment into the sector has been booming and helping many new and existing startups to grow. Here’s yet another success story — Madrid-based startup ifeel combining therapy and self-care has just raised €5.5 million in series A funding round led by Nauta Capital.
The startup was founded in 2017 as a therapy platform, but the company shifted the focus towards a hybrid business model last year. The platform offers access to live sessions with licensed psychologists and tools like mood trackers, exercises and activities directed at improving mental wellness. The ifeel team believes that fusing self-care and guided therapy leads to maximizing the engagement and retention of the users, and it seems to be working well — 90% of the users report noticing an improvement in their mental wellbeing.
The service offering aside, factors setting the company apart include strong technology integration and having the mind set on the global market since day one. And it’s not just an ambition — ifeel has gone into early partnerships with leading global companies in several countries, while its insurance network coverage extends to 20 countries and four languages. The team hopes to see ifeel become the ultimate mental wellness solution for users worldwide, no matter the concern at hand, which can be achieved through continuously increasing customization. We wish them the best!
💵 Can a higher minimum wage save lives?
The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated an already dire situation that the global mental health is in, seeing depression, anxiety, and suicide counts rising all around the globe. However, the pandemic itself isn’t the only force to blame — the decline of mental health is also affected by forces like economic inequality and social injustice. Jason Cherkis, a journalist covering mental health and currently writing a book on suicide, argues that when it comes to deaths by suicide, diagnostic labels are mostly irrelevant. Often the trouble begins with childhood traumas and ends after being failed by the system time and time again.
While there’s no single cause for suicide, research finds a significant connection between mental health and people’s ability to pay rent. It has been discovered that people with less education and therefore more likely to hold minimum wage jobs not only are earning less but are less likely to form a strong support network. They’re also more likely to report feeling disappointed about their lives. Other findings suggest that it wouldn’t take much to turn the situation around — research has indicated that if the US increased the minimum wage by $1 per hour, the suicide rate would drop by 3–6% among adults with a high school education or less.
This connection can partly be explained by the fewer financial struggles that the higher minimum wage would bring, as they are known to be a significant stressor. Social and economic inequality are also likely to be the reasons behind life-long trauma, perpetuating the endless cycle of trauma and systemic poverty. Therefore it’s safe to conclude that raising the minimum wage doesn’t only mean a better paycheck for the employees — it can also be a meaningful tool in battling the mental health crisis in the US, as well as the first step towards reducing the economic discrepancies dividing the society.
🧘 Who ensures quality in digital mental health care?
The growth of the digital mental health market means significantly increased accessibility to mental wellness tools and the support people need. However, with the market growing rapidly, some experts wonder whether digital mental health services can deliver on their promise.
Some researchers are concerned that it’s not yet clear what the lasting impact of the mental health services on bigger populations is, as many mental wellness startups only have small pilot studies to back their claims. Some investors wonder how big of a risk the clients of such services face as they can run out of money or let their therapists and counselors go.
Leading digital health companies are aware of the need for accountability and aim to do better, building their products on evidence-based approaches, relying on clinically validated measures and calling for other companies in the field to do the same. As only a few mental health care providers taking a negligent approach to evidence and service quality can lead to an increased mistrust in the entire field, the bar must be set high. That’s why the field leaders are taking it upon themselves to uphold the social responsibility of a healthcare provider, hoping that their investments in ensuring the quality of service will lead to an industry-wide benchmark.
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Gabija works as a Marketing & Communications Coordinator at Masawa. She lets her vision of a more just, sustainable, equitable world guide Masawa’s story and inform the work towards transforming global mental wellness to make it accessible and accepted.