Changemakers: Meditation app offers tools and programs to people affected by the pandemic

Posted at 8:46 PM, Jun 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-29 20:46:39-04

For so many, meditation apps have become invaluable as people look for ways to find some calm in the storm that is 2020. The app Headspace has been offering free services to some of the hardest hit by the pandemic, including a little something special for New Yorkers.

The meditation app was founded in 2010 by former advertising executive Rich Pierson and Andy Puddicombe, who studied as a Buddhist monk for more than 10 years.

Headspace originally started out as an events company hosting meditation retreats before going mobile.

"Because it's in your pocket and available at any time, it just makes the act of meditation easier to learn and to practice and become part of your lifestyle," said Sarah Romotsky, the director of healthcare partnerships at Headspace.

Meditation gained mainstream popularity in recent years. The National Institute of Health said some research suggests practicing meditation may reduce blood pressure as well as symptoms of anxiety, depression or insomnia.

Headspace is working to help a wide range of people hit hardest by the pandemic.

"We're offering Headspace for free for all healthcare professionals until the end of the year,” explained Romotsky. “We also launched that we were giving away free one-year subscriptions to all unemployed people in the United States." Headspace recently expanded the free year subscription offer to unemployed people in the U.K.
Headspace also has a special section with free content for New Yorkers, in partnership with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, called “A NY state of mind.”

"Dealing with stress and confusion and anxiety and depression, there's just so many different emotions and it's a hard time right now for everyone, especially New Yorkers, so we were excited to partner with Gov. Cuomo on that initiative,” said Romotsky.

Headspace also teamed up with Sesame Street for a series of videos focused on combating stress and anxiety in children during the pandemic.

"We have a six-video series that teaches kids mindfulness techniques and helps them deal with the common feelings that they might be having,” explained Romotsky. “The best thing about Headspace is that there's every type of content, so whatever and whenever you need it you can find support through Headspace."

The deadline for unemployed Americans to sign up for a free year of Headspace is June 30 — sign up by clicking here.

The "NY state of mind" content is free on the website and can be found by clicking here