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Founder of a mental health company. Army veteran. Those two phrases partially describe who I am and often lead to the natural assumption that I co-founded SonderMind because of personal experience with PTSD or struggles related to deployment to a combat zone. Fortunately, I have not suffered from these issues or others directly related to my time in the military; my time in therapy is spent on different struggles and opportunities for personal growth.
However, I have a number of very close friends from my Army service who have endured the significant effects related to trauma from our deployments. I’ve seen some of their lives derailed because of the inability to access a therapist and use their commercial insurance or VA benefits. When you witness really high-performing individuals who did not “come home” with any apparent mental health conditions and years later become triggered by a life event that creates a downward spiral of anxiety, depression or PTSD, you start asking questions about whether or not they sought or received appropriate treatment. When those questions are answered with something to the effect of “I tried to find a therapist, but it was going to be months before one was available, so I tried to ignore the problem,” it becomes apparent that we have a real problem. It pains me even further to know that this problem is all too common across the country for our veterans, as evidenced by the fact that approximately 30% of personnel returning from a Middle East deployment have a mental health condition requiring treatment and more than half of those individuals do not receive any treatment1, as well as other service professionals, such as our community first responders.
At SonderMind, our core value proposition is to address the overall lack of access to appropriate, in-network behavioral health options for the average American who needs to use their insurance and other healthcare benefits for care. Our broad community of highly-trained therapists, plus our suite of technology applications gives us the tools to transform the long, painful process of finding a therapist into something that literally only takes a few minutes on your computer or phone. Within a day or two, you are scheduled with the appropriate therapist who is matched to your specific needs and practices in a relatively convenient time and location.
We’ve taken this a step further with our exciting partnership with ResponderStrong, an organization dedicated to supporting the mental health of first responders and their families. For those therapists who aim to dedicate a portion of their clinical focus on the needs of first responders, we ensure that they complete the rigorous certification program by ResponderStrong. We are then able to enter those credentials into our matching algorithm to prioritize ResponderStrong-certified therapists for those first responders who are seeking high-quality, customized behavioral health treatment.
As a veteran, my personal interest in ensuring adequate care for those individuals who risk their lives in support of our local and national safety is paramount. While our attempts over the past 16 months to partner with the VA and TriWest have been met with hesitation and resistance, we will always work toward increasing the availability of care for veterans - if anyone can provide assistance to that end, please contact us. In the meantime, SonderMind continues to be dedicated to redesigning behavioral health to be more accessible, approachable and utilized for all Americans.
About the Author
Mark Frank graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and was commissioned as an officer in the Army in 2000. During his time as an active duty officer, he served in a variety of roles with the 4th Infantry Division and 7th Infantry Divisions, including one year deployed as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF1). He left active duty in 2005 as a Captain, having earned multiple commendations, including a Bronze Star Medal.
Following his time as a military serviceman, Mark earned graduate degrees from Northwestern University, worked as an investment banker for Morgan Stanley, and has co-founded multiple companies in the healthcare service and technology industries.
Mark is still highly involved with veteran initiatives, serving as a Board Member for the West Point Society of Denver and the Warrior Reunion Foundation. He is also a mentor and speaker for Techstars Patriot Bootcamp.