Akin Mental Health Blog

Akin Mental Health is Proudly Moving to Doro Mind

7 min read

Today, as we kick off mental health awareness month, I’m thrilled to announce that Akin Mental Health is proudly moving to become part of Doro Mind. The seeds of this transition began to take root many months ago and this newly forged partnership has taken a labor of love to bring together. I couldn’t imagine a more mission- and values-aligned home for Akin than Doro Mind to advance our vision of family support for serious mental illness (SMI).

For current members of Akin, please know that your accounts will remain active and you can take your time with the self-guided program. We’ll be sending you member specific communications as the transition progresses over the months ahead.

At the birth of this new chapter I want to take a pause to reflect on our journey building Akin Mental Health and invite you to share my excitement for what’s to come.

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Akin’s Story

In the late summer of 2020 from a home office carved out of our living room/playroom/kitchen, in our San Francisco apartment, under COVID shelter-in-place, I reached out on a newly-minted Mental Health Startup Slack channel to ask a simple question:

“Does anyone else have experience as a family member to a loved one with serious mental illness like bipolar-1 or schizophrenia? Would you be willing to talk with me?”

One of the first responses I got was from a stranger, Matthew Montañez, who shared with me the winding road his family traveled as his brother navigated schizoaffective disorder over the preceding two decades. I shared my story too, and it began to dawn on me that I wasn’t alone in my experiences. We didn’t know it at the time but this would be the beginning of a deep partnership to build Akin Mental Health, with the mission to improve the well-being of families impacted by serious mental illness (SMI).

I mention this origin story because it is at the core of what Akin has always been about: families impacted by SMI getting together to connect with each other, share learnings, build skills and work hard to improve the path for everyone.

Over the next few months, we explored different ways to support families and crystallized our ideas about the company we wanted to build. We incorporated in May 2021, pitched investors and received our first company funding a year (to the day) from that first conversation about our own families’ struggles.

Akin’s Family Program has now reached hundreds of families, our newsletter has grown to thousands of followers, and our relationships within our own families have taken on new depth. Our mighty team of six (at our peak) are the most genuine, whole-hearted and talented people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.

The stories of the families I’ve walked beside as a co-founder and a Family Guide at Akin have touched my heart deeply. What I am most proud of when I think about this journey is this: no matter how much they engaged, families told us that Akin gave them hope. Over nearly 200 live workshops, that was the one word we heard most at the end of each session: hope.

Turning to a new chapter

Many companies struggled with the financial realities that hit in 2023, and Akin was no exception. While we tried dozens of approaches to business model, investor pitches, and grant applications, ultimately we needed to cut down on costs and on what we were able to offer through Akin.

As much as the financial outlook took center stage, there was a new worry keeping me up at night. I started to question whether our model of only engaging with the family members of people with SMI, would ever be enough to make the impact we wanted to see in the world. As we listened to families in our program, we would hear the same themes throughout our sessions. We would hear things like:

“I hear you tell me that the evidence shows teams have treatment outcomes and we need to collaborate – but there is no team. No one else will help. I’m the only one left. Now what?”

“My son came home after months, you would be proud of how I used the new communication skills and we had the best conversation we’ve had in years. I thought he might start seeing a doctor again but we couldn’t set up any appointments in time, and then he left.”

“I reached out to the psychiatrist like you taught me, shared that I wanted to help, and told them what is happening while my daughter is living with me. The only reply I got said that they would not read my emails and I shouldn’t send any more.”

With Akin, we were able to help families learn new approaches, gain hope and feel less alone in their struggle. As we did this, the inadequacies of the available treatment resources only came into starker relief. It became difficult to see how Akin could achieve its mission without getting into treatment services. And Matthew and I, who did not have that expertise, couldn’t see how we could make that leap.

Recovery happens in collaboration

In our workshops at Akin, we always started our sessions with a quick reminder of our four principles for family support.

  1. Mental illness impacts the whole family
  2. Your response matters
  3. You matter
  4. Recovery happens in collaboration

Of all the family members I’ve met who have loved ones navigating SMI, I don’t think I’ve met anyone who embodies that last principle “recovery happens in collaboration” as deeply as Mimi Liu and Brady Richards – the co-founders and co-CEOs of Doro Mind. Even the decision to join as two CEOs is a marker of their ingrained commitment to collaboration!

The inspiring mission that Mimi and Brady have for Doro Mind is to make recovery the norm for people affected by SMI. That mission is so central that Doro Mind is structured as a public benefit corporation, with the mission written into its legal incorporation filings. Mimi and Brady each bring decades of experience transforming healthcare systems to reduce barriers and improve outcomes. They’re also fueled by their own journeys with their own families. Their approach highlights collaboration at every level of the system: from insurance payers, to primary care providers, psychiatrists, wrap-around services, and of course the families and individuals impacted by SMI.

Doro Mind currently offers consulting services for families in need of on-going access to expert advice for psychosis. Later this year, Doro will be adding team based psychiatric care services for individuals experiencing psychosis and the family that supports them. The resources built at Akin will be woven into this care making it a unique opportunity to advance Akin’s mission. We encourage you to learn more about Doro Mind and book a free call if this may be a fit for your family.

I’m proud to have joined Doro Mind as Director of Product Management, and proud to be able to continue the work we started with Akin with another incredible team.

What happens next?

First, we would love to hear from you! Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at stephanie@doromind.com if you want to ask questions, share thoughts or give us input into how we should approach this next chapter. We want to collaborate!

Second, if you are currently an Akin member with access to our self-guided program, your access will remain open. Akin members will receive separate email communication about potential changes to the account in future months. Take your time and work through the program as needed. If you are on our newsletter list, you will also continue to get emails and updates about relevant topics from Doro Mind.

Third, as of this week, we will not be enrolling new members in the self-guided program while we work out the new strategy for family support within Doro Mind.

Finally, we invite you to explore what we are building at Doro Mind. If your family is looking for improved access to expert support navigating psychosis, check out Doro Consult. If you’re looking for a new care team that understands recovery – stay tuned for the launch of Doro Care later this year.

Finally, finally, THANK YOU! I am filled with gratitude to be at this transition and your support will always be my guide.

Beyond the blog

Ready for more support?

Learn how Doro Consult can help. Crafted for families and individuals navigating serious mental illness. Doro Consult augments your existing care team with increased access to specialized expertise for psychosis, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and related conditions.

Learn more