Amy Keller Laird: The Story of Mental.
In 2016, when I was the Editor-in-Chief of Women’s Health, my deputy editor presented stats galore about the rise of mental health issues in women. In that moment, it struck me: It’s hard to comprehend the true human toll of mental disorders through numbers alone. I’d been open about my OCD with friends, coworkers, and family—but what if I, the head of one of the biggest national health-magazine brands, were to reveal in the pages of the magazine that I have OCD?
Not everyone in the company was jazzed about this idea. The legal and PR teams were concerned that I (and the brand) might be taken less seriously, and other staff members were prevented from participating in the story for fear of legal action. All reasons why the story needed to be told—and why, when it hit, it exploded into the zeitgeist.
That day, Mental was born—at least in my mind! (At that point, it was, indeed, all in my head.) I launched it on Instagram in 2018, and in late September 2022, brought it to TikTok and online. Mental is a first-of-its-kind mental health lifestyle brand that embraces the power of emotional and mental health…but also gets real about how to deal when you feel like you can’t.
Mental embeds mental health into everyday life—the way it happens naturally. It’s a funny, raw, unabashedly real—but also friendly and non-judgmental—place to begin, or continue, your mental health journey when you’re not sure where else to go.
Mental’s frank approach cuts through taboos. No back rooms or hushed tones here. No preciousness. Mental kiboshes flowery writing, vapid inspo, and pandering—not to mention cliché, gloomy black-and-white photos. Only legit and realistic advice, from the world’s top experts, is allowed here. Plus, honest talk from other Gen XYZers show you’re not alone—and that you can thrive.
Mental is never flip or glib, but it is—and always will be—a tiny bit edgy. We embrace things that make us uncomfortable and clear up misunderstandings and myths with wit, guts, a little humor, and a lot of thoughtfulness wrapped in total honesty. We aim to be the total package. Just like you.
Why The Name “Mental”?
When someone has a physical injury like a broken leg, or a chronic condition such as diabetes, nobody says, “Wow, she is so physical.” But “mental” has been a pejorative term—until now.
We’re taking back the word and putting it front and center. One in five people has a mental health condition—and that’s just counting those with a diagnosis. We’ve all got mental pains. Being mental is normal. I believe that one of the best ways to de-stigmatize mental health is to talk about it normally.
After all, life is bananas. Let’s quit pretending it’s not. Which brings us to…
What’s the Deal With the Dripping Banana?
In the mental health community, people don’t always love being called “crazy” (ya think?), and “bananas” is a far less caustic replacement. The fruit can also be a metaphor for us humans: When a banana is ripe, it’s sunny and uplifting; when it’s got spots, it makes the most delectable banana bread. Even in its seemingly imperfect state, a banana creates something wonderful—it’s still worthy. Like bananas, we can be both sunny and spotted.
As for the dripping? Well, that’s how our mental health struggles feel sometimes, isn’t it? Persistent, unstoppable, annoying, and occasionally debilitating. It’s not the prettiest side of life, but that doesn’t mean it should be hidden in the shadows—or in one of those black-and-white, hand-on-window, rain-pouring-outside photos (you know the ones). We’re here to show mental health the way it really happens—as part of your life. But not the only part of it.
Wanna Talk Mental To Us?
Thanks for stopping by. Drop me a line at email@example.com and let me know what you like and don’t, and what we can do better. You can also find us on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook. Meantime, go forth and be mental! —Amy Keller Laird
The Mental Team
Amy Keller Laird
Founder, CEO, Chief Brand & Creative Officer
Amy is an award-winning editorial, marketing, and brand executive with deep strategic experience at global women’s media brands. As the Global Editor-in-Chief of Women’s Health, Beauty Director of Allure, and EVP of Brand and Audience Development at Remedy Health Media—where she oversaw eight digital brands for chronic health conditions—Amy used her “instincts-powered, data-informed” approach to spark explosive buzz, drive significant digital and social growth, and influence cultural opinion. Amy is a thought leader in wellness, mental health, and beauty, having appeared as an expert on Today, Good Morning America, The Doctors, CNN’s HLN, and Entertainment Tonight. She has OCD, and has been named a Friend of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) for her journalistic work in mental health.
Contributing Creative Director
Tom has two decades of experience creating award-winning brand creative, marketing design, and production across all platforms. He is currently a Design Director at Pepsi Co.; previously held director positions with Men’s Health, Bon Appétit, Remedy Health Media, Thrillist, and Money; and helped launch Airbnb Magazine. Mental is Tom and Amy’s third collaboration.
Contributing Chief Operating & Audience Development Officer
Bill is the founder of Best Words LLC, which helps brands connect deeply with their customers through world-class storytelling, engaging social media, and effective content marketing. He’s currently the Chief Content Officer of Linkwell Health, the premier consumer experience company in healthcare, and previously was the Global Editor-in-Chief of Men’s Health. Bill has won the Pearl Gold Award and the National Magazine Award for General Excellence, the content marketing and magazine industries’ highest honors.
Meirav is a writer and editor with two decades of experience in the beauty and wellness worlds. She has held senior-level editorial positions at Allure and InStyle, and has written for the New York Times, Women’s Health, Self, CNN, and more. Meirav has anxiety, depression, and trichotillomania and, at Mental, serves as one of Amy’s key “board members” on all things mental health (this is their third collaboration together). Find her trichotillomania feed on Instagram at @trichrtreat.
Contributing SEO Editor
Sofie is a writer and SEO expert specializing in the healthcare space, leading teams at business of all shapes and sizes. She has held SEO positions at PlushCare, Remedy Health Media, K Health, and NerdWallet.
Social Media Intern
Safa is an entrepreneur and a sophomore at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, studying business administration. She is the founder of a model-booking agency and a model-management agency, called Achieve Management, both of which serve a community of all genders in LA, NYC, and Atlanta. She is also studying to get her real estate license.
Abby is a student at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, studying multimedia with a concentration in photography. She hopes to pursue a career in web publishing and photography. Abby has ADHD and is passionate about mental health and breaking the stigma for all young women who live with similar disorders.