How Headspace is helping users cope using meditation amid COVID-19 – Yahoo Finance

Posted: January 25, 2021 at 2:54 pm


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Headspace Co-Founder Andy Puddicombe joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the growth of guided meditation and the companys new Netflix series.

- Downloads for mobile mental health apps have surged during this pandemic as the COVID-19 pandemic takes a psychological toll on people. That has led to a boom in business for Headspace. Let's bring in the co-founder of Headspace, Andy Puddicombe. We should also note that he's also a former Buddhist monk.

Andy, let's talk about the growth that you have seen, though. Walk me through some of your numbers here. Early on in the pandemic, of course, there was a lot of attention on Headspace. Clearly you have sort of expanded beyond the app now.

ANDY PUDDICOMBE: Yeah, I think, you know, early on in the pandemic, I would say even if you go back and rewind to sort of March and April of last year, we saw downloads sort of double overnight. And a huge amount-- as you say, huge amount of attention, I think, recognition that it wasn't just physical sort of illness that people were in danger of.

A lot of people were struggling kind of with their mind. And we saw that extend sort of beyond just sort of the consumer base as well, right through into sort of B2B, for example, and business organizations looking at how they can better look after their team members when they're at home, often in very sort of challenging situations. So we've seen across the whole sort of business quite a big increase over the last 12 months or so.

- Yeah, there's no shortage of reasons here in the pandemic to focus in on mental health and really try and meditate. And obviously the benefits out there have been proven in certain studies. But when you think about the increasing competition, I was shocked to see one-- one, I guess, article looking at more than 2,500 apps launching since 2015 to focus in on the meditation space. What is it that you at Headspace do differently to maybe help people on that journey?

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ANDY PUDDICOMBE: Yeah, it's amazing. When we-- we started back in sort of 2010, and we launched the app in 2012. And at that time, there were-- there were no other meditation apps. And I know-- I hear there's over sort of 5,000 now. So you're right. A lot-- a lot of sort of attention in this space.

We-- we decided very early on to focus on two things, and that's authenticity and science. We feel that the-- you know, we didn't come up with these things. Meditation has been around for sort of 2 and 1/2, 3,000 years. And we look at that as R&D. And that's a lot of R&D.

And it works because it's sort of been-- you know, that authenticity has been sort of looked after over the years. So we try not to mess with that too much. But at the same time, we try and give it additional sort of credibility by sort of measuring the scientific benefits of meditation and mindfulness.

So we have over 75 sort of clinical trials in process. 25 are already completed and have been published. But for us, it's a really important thing, to try and bring together kind of that, as I say, that authentic sort of essence and mix it with sort of modern-day-- modern-day science.

- Yeah, it does feel like there has been a real shift in the way at least Americans look at meditation and how effective that is to-- to the way we live every day. You've already got a Netflix series out as well. Where do you see the business going from here? The app, as popular as it is, I imagine isn't where you plan to end Headspace.

ANDY PUDDICOMBE: [LAUGHS] Well, I mean, I think like all of these things. You know, like, our-- our vision was to improve-- we set out to improve the health and happiness of the world. It's something-- it's still our North Star. The app is obviously an integral part of that. It allows us to reach an incredible number of people around the world.

And the Netflix show is really exciting because I think, you know, when we first launched, people were like, really? Meditation on your phone? But isn't the phone stressful? And in the same way, when we launched on Netflix, it was like, really, meditation? Isn't that just-- you know, on an entertainment platform, how can that work?

And what we've discovered is that it's reached a huge number of people in the same way that when we launched on the phone, it was meeting people where they were. In the same way now, through Netflix, we're meeting people where they are. And we'll continue to do that.

I think where you'll probably see the biggest shift is within health care. So we have a big science and health team, and they're working to sort of integrate Headspace fully into sort of medical environments to ensure that we get to a stage where sort of meditation is democratized, where anyone can get access to it. And hopefully in the future, people will even have it paid for by their health care insurance.

- Yeah, I could see that happening. I mean, for someone like me, who maybe hasn't been attached to the meditation space-- we've had Deepak Chopra come on the show a number of times. He's personally tried to help. You know, there's obviously the apps, like Headspace out there. There's podcasts now. There's a lot of things.

For whatever reason, very difficult for me to get involved. But when it comes to maybe the surprises that you've seen since the space has grown, what has shocked you the most? Is it kind of the people who maybe hadn't focused in on meditation now being drawn into this? Is it the money that's now attached to this space and investors finally embracing meditation for what it can be? What, to you, as the founder of Headspace, stands out?

ANDY PUDDICOMBE: It's a great question. I think the efficacy hasn't surprised me. I'm really happy to see the science kind of catch up and to prove that there are kind of very real benefits. I think the surprise is more the-- sort of the background. It's the-- it's not just meditation.

For me, this is about kind of the health of the mind. And it's sort of the health of the mind catching up with the health of the body. We've had decades where we've talked about how important it is to look after the body. And yet we've kind of ignored how important it is to actually be happy internally, regardless of how healthy we are on the outside.

So I think it's that commentary and seeing it's more sort of socially acceptable now for people to talk about their internal struggles, to have permission, maybe, to talk about struggling with sleep, or feeling anxious, or feeling stressed. And I feel like that's the starting point. Unless we can talk about those things as a society, as a community, then nothing really changes. So that's the thing that kind of makes me happiest. And-- and hopefully that will-- that's a trend that will continue on.

- And Andy, you said earlier about integrating Headspace into the medical space. What exactly does that integration look like? What are some of the conversations you're having around that?

ANDY PUDDICOMBE: Yeah, so right now, for example, in fact, a good number of referrals come from doctors or from therapists. The difference is that right now, sort of consumers pay direct for that. I think in the future-- and we're already kind of partnering with some-- some large health insurance companies.

But in the future, I think there's the potential for that to be covered by your health insurance, but also to have it part of a system of care. So we've worked with-- we've chatted with hospitals about when patients go in for surgery, for example. How could we best prepare a patient for surgery in reducing anxiety, in making sure they feel better prepared?

Likewise, on the other side of that, when they're recovering, how do we help to create the most conducive conditions for recovery? So, you know, it's an interesting space, right? You're lying there in hospital. You actually can't do a huge amount, and it's very easy to just look for distraction, when actually we could use that time to actually improve the-- not only the health of the mind, but actually to increase the speed of recovery in the body as well.

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How Headspace is helping users cope using meditation amid COVID-19 - Yahoo Finance

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January 25th, 2021 at 2:54 pm

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