Mental health and well-being are two topics that are garnering more attention almost by the day. Rightfully so; according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 21% of adult Americans will experience a mental health issue in any given year, mainly anxiety and depression, at 19% and 8%, respectively. Less than half—45%—will get treatment for their issues, even though therapy, medication, and self-care can all provide some relief, if not lead to recovery.
Dr. Venus Nicolino, known as Dr. V, wants everyone to have a person or place they can turn to for good advice, some perspective, and a kind word or two. With her mix of warmth and no-nonsense delivery, Dr. V is the perfect counterpart to all the doomsayers, peddlers of half-truths, and people who want to get ahead in life by telling everyone else how they should live theirs, that permeate the media landscape.
Dr. Venus Nicolino's journey into becoming a mental health professional—she has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and two master's degrees also in psychology—started in a close-knit neighborhood in Philadelphia where she lived with her working-class family. "We were a large family. I am one of five kids, and money was always tight," Dr. V explains. "The neighborhood was the world, and the stories I heard from the women who lived there were the first lessons in the more complicated side of life."
Those long weekends spent with the stories about the people who lived around her taught her other important things. The power of listening was one of them. Dr. V figured out early on that listening leads to knowledge, but also helps her share in other people's lives. "I really feel a privilege to participate in other people's lives, and I don't take it lightly," says Dr. V. "I try to give as much as I can with whatever attention or access people can spare."
In the case of mental health and well-being experts working through the media, be they traditional, new, or social, taking care of people often means combating the bad advice that's floating around out there, catching people's attention. Dr. V often takes to Instagram and TikTok to dispel bad advice about sleeping, the pressure to always be productive, and putting up flimsy boundaries.
"I went to Catholic school as a kid, and the nuns didn't like my name, so they called me Vanessa," says Dr. V. "When I got tired of it, I told them what they can do to themselves, and I got kicked out. That taught me tons about toxic authority and how not to compromise with it." Today, Dr. V takes that same attitude of irreverence to some of the myths modern gurus like to propagate.
In her efforts to combat the bad advice the internet is overflowing with, as well as provide an accessible form of help suited for the modern person, Dr. Venus Nicolino has teamed up with SoundMind, a new mental health app that focuses on PTSD, anxiety, and other mental health issues. Dr. V isn't a stranger to taking up new forms of communication, having appeared in over 100 episodes of television, authored a number one best-selling book, and started a popular podcast. Dr. V is an investor and has joined the Board of Directors of SoundMind to help the strategic direction of this innovative application taking the fight for accessible therapy to a whole new front.
With the SoundMind application, she is looking to fill the gap that's been left by similar apps that failed to harness the convenience of the format and marry it with the right kind of mental well-being techniques. "I think there's an opportunity, in the purely technical sense, to do some great work through the app," explains Dr. V. "However, I also just want people to conveniently get the help they need. If they respond to the unique features of SoundMind, great. But everybody deserves to give themselves a chance to get better, and I'm always interested in being a part of that journey."