Heare Launches Community for Men's Mental Health
Heare Brotherhood is a mission-led social wellness app and community for men founded by John Moore, Justin Brey, Mike Allen and Jason Rogers. Accessed mainly via a smartphone app, Heare's main focus is improving men’s mental health. The app addresses many sensitive issues facing men today such as male loneliness, brotherhood, friendship and suicide prevention, among others. The app provides a suite of tools for men to buttress their mental health, including breath work, meditation, stillness, and the art of presence. It also convenes in-person community events and adventurous retreats for men in iconic locations such as Zions National Park.
TechBuzz first met John Moore, CEO and Co-Founder of Heare last month at the overflowing December 7th Silicon Slopes Town Hall on Mental Health. (Silicon Slopes is hosting a similar Town Hall on January 18, 2024. See details here).
We sat down with Moore to understand why he co-founded Heare, what it does, and how it is impacting its members.
“We know that social media can be bad for mental health...which is why we call Heare ‘support media’ instead of social media." said Moore. "Heare's purpose is to be a safe space in a digital world where men can come and ask questions that they can't or won’t ask anywhere else. It's a place where men can have discussions and get advice. So many men can't really trust anywhere else on the internet, because it will give them a million different answers. But with peers and in one on one or group settings in the Heare app, men can find support in ways that they couldn’t otherwise find on social media.
Moore started thinking about forming a mens’ mental health company in late 2022. In January 2023, he went to lunch with Justin Brey after the two interacted on LinkedIn. They quickly realized they had a shared passion. Brey joined him as a co-founder and came on board officially a few months later. Each co-founder adds unique perspective and specific expertise to the founding team.
“It was surprising to find so many men on LinkedIn resonating with the topic of men’s mental health," said Moore. “I couldn’t believe I was seeing so many men being vulnerable and candid, discussing their weaknesses and revealing their struggles on LinkedIn, which usually has a reputation for being professional and guarded—an extension of people’s resume in many ways—and typically not the place to reveal personal struggles.”
Heare is designed to improve men’s mental and social health in general, but it also takes on a host of related issues facing modern men: male loneliness, the need to have a tribe as adults, brotherhood, and masculinity. In a real sense, Heare's most important purpose is also to provide better alternatives to suicide. It does so by giving men useful tools to buttress their mental health such as breath work, meditation, the art of presence and stillness, among other things.
"Heare is ideally suited for men who want to become better husbands, fathers, and men," explained Moore. But most men tend to be busy, distracted. Many may be looking for vices. Many may be struggling with mental health issues. And many need to face the difficult things that men actually need to face,” said Moore. “We bring together in a community these interesting aspects that can reach masses of men through our app.” he added.
Moore felt compelled to create Heare after having experienced close friends whose lives ended in tragedy.
“I had friends who had passed on from suicide. It really affected me and made me realize that something needed to change. These were not suicides that anyone would expect. There were no signs or warnings. These men had beautiful families, loving wives and amazing children. They were all seemingly living beautiful lives. Their deaths were shocking. And each time it happened, it pushed me further to urgently find or create a solution.”
Moore has witnessed many men's movements come and go, “I saw brotherhood groups and men’s retreats, but they were support groups, like Alcoholics Anonymous or men’s circles. I wasn’t really seeing anything that explicitly focused on bettering mental health in a way that made sense to me.”
And many of these groups were expensive, exclusive and otherwise out of reach for many men.
As Moore put it, “One thing they all had in common is that they were full of wealthy or middle class men, and they were selling high dollar options: a retreat for $5,000, a membership for $4,000 a month. It got me thinking about the importance of accessibility which prompted the question: how can we make these kinds of brotherhood or mens’ groups more accessible to peasants like me? I realized accessibility was not a focus of the men’s groups I was seeing. I realized that it was up to us to create that.”
Moore and his co-founders—Brey, Allen and Rogers—created a community that is governed by the following oath composed by Brey after a powerful late-night experience:
I vow to be my brother’s keeper.
A silent watchful guardian over those in darkness. A listening ear to those in pain. A provider for those in need. A leader to those lost, and a hand to those in deep waters.
I am a son, father, and brother to those who need me. I will uphold the duties and responsibilities bestowed upon me.
Through any obstacle or trial, I will be there for my brothers in need. I will leave no man behind in the darkness, or to be left alone or afraid.
Our love and dedication goes beyond color, belief, culture, status, nationality and blood. We cannot and will not be divided.
In my times of need I will reach out. I will talk, and I will remember those who need and love me. I will remember that I am loved. I will never forget my brothers who are there for me.
I am here to hear.
This is my promise, this is my responsibility, my oath.
This is my Heare Brotherhood.
Brey told TechBuzz he wanted to be a part of the Heare Brotherhood "because I wish something like it existed when I was going through my own mental struggles," said Brey. "A few years ago I almost took my life because I felt alone in this world. And I never want anyone to feel the way I did during that time of my life."
He continued, "When you break Heare down to its core, it is a safe space to help men not feel alone, which is the silent killer," said added.
Every new Heare member must sign the Heare Oath and make an introduction.
Then they can navigate through the app where they experience:
- A "Brotherhood Feed," which is where men can go and post whatever is on their mind
- A Live chat function, which serves as a continuous stream of messages from members
- "Hear to Hear" Huddles--where members join a video chat with men from around the world. These huddles are broken out in to smaller groups on specific topics where members are both heard and listen to one another
- Weekly "Heare Talks," where experts speak to the community on a given subject
- An aanonymous Q&A “Because there are certain questions that men don't want to ask other men, but as men we want to know what other men are thinking on the subject,” explained Moore.
- Support channels, by subscription only, that include a mix of mental, physical and spiritual health topics.
- A private space for pre- and post-event information and commentary, leading to...
- Events for small numbers of men in inspirational, out of the way locations such as Zions National Park. A group of 33 Heare users attended the event Zion's event last November. New events for 2024 will be posted on the Heare app.
The app also includes the function to go LIVE on video to the whole community— so called “bat signal” that flashes and gets the attention of Heare users to inform them about a pending 10 to 15 minute live video. This live might include an inspirational mantra to start the day, a specialist leading breath work exercises, a meditative moment, or an opportunity to express gratitude, or to apply mindfulness.
"We focus on being centered and present and doing the daily inner work that builds over time," said Jason Rogers, Heare Co-founder and Chairman of the Board. "We’re helping men build stronger interpersonal foundations through the connections we’re facilitating."
Rogers continued, describing the app's features that have the greatest impact on members, "Men resonate with our Live Heare Assemblies and Live mindfulness/breathing sessions. They are also very engaged in our “Brotherhood feed” where men post about their feelings and thoughts about life. Our anonymous Q&A is also a channel that our community resonates with."
Mike Allen, one of Heare's co-founders shared with TechBuzz the reason he joined the founding team, "I believed in the purpose. I felt the pure intent of John and Justin—that they truly were in this for the right reasons. I felt called to join in the work as a way to broaden and expand the men's retreat work I had been doing previously. I had seen how impactful this work was firsthand, but only with small groups of men at a time. This was a way to grow and impact more men's lives, which then has a ripple effect in families and communities."
Since Moore and his co-founders launched the Heare app in the Apple App Store and on Google Play in late 2023, it has attracted thousands of members. From the time TechBuzz encountered Heare in early December, it has quadrupled in size. It now has nearly 8,000 members from more than 50 countries and every habitable continent.
“Because of the rate we’re growing, we’re expecting about 100,000 members around the world within the next year or so if not more,” said Moore.
About the coming year, Moore said, “Right now we're in the stage of rapid growth. We are trying to be responsible with our growth. While we want to get Heare to as many men as need it, we also don’t want to do it at the expense of losing the intimacy and efficacy of what we’ve already built. It is resonating with men all over the world. We plan to listen to them and figure out where we will go from here."
He summed up about plans for 2024, "For now, we are continuing to nurture what we have, while at the same time looking forward to launching many exciting new things in 2024: launching The Heare Podcast and Heare Foundation, partnering with some incredible companies (to be announced soon). And due to popular demand, launching the Heare Sisterhood, led by some incredible women we have been talking to. Stay tuned for more big announcements about Heare.”