Rethink Wellbeing

Rethink Wellbeing

Mental Health Programs

Rethink Wellbeing’s mission is to nurture mental wellbeing at scale. To do so, it uses engaging, proven, and low-cost programmes, tailored to the needs of communities.


What problem is Rethink Wellbeing working on?

Mental illness impedes clear thinking, productivity, and relationships — all of which would allow for agency and flourishing. Given the usual or even increased prevalence of mental health conditions among effective altruists — and around 35% productivity loss for affected individuals — the effective altruism movement loses 5–10% of its productivity and likely impact. With 7,400 effective altruists that are considered “highly engaged,” this reflects a workforce loss of around 400 people.

Half of the affected effective altruists report an unmet need for mental health support. The special effects of working on reducing existential risk and suffering require tailored services, and with the effects of the FTX crisis, psychosocial support for effective altruists is now needed more than ever.

What does Rethink Wellbeing do?

Rethink Wellbeing reports that guided self-help and digital therapeutics have proven to be cost-effective and scalable solutions that can help relieve overwhelmed care providers. Meta-analyses show that when guided online by trained laypeople (i.e., peers), they are just as effective and engaging as professional one-on-one therapy at a fraction of the cost. A peer guide only needs to be trained once to deliver a diverse portfolio of digital interventions. Also, building strong peer relationships and feeling social support independently strengthens engagement as well as mental health itself.

Rethink Wellbeing’s team, including Dr. Sam Bernecker, Dr. Inga Grossmann, and John Drummond, have developed a tailored and engaging approach. It aims to provide peer-support mental health services that show promising signs of effectiveness and engagement, which Rethink Wellbeing believes could rival traditional therapeutic tools. In 2023, Rethink Wellbeing was fortunate to receive generous support from a diverse network of volunteers, advisors, and financial backers which together donated over $250k. Notable supporters included MHFC donors, Nonlinear donors, and Open Philanthropy. Rethink Wellbeing reports that donor contributions have been instrumental in helping explore and refine its approach to mental health support.

Rethink Wellbeing provided the following list of its 2023 achievements and plans for 2024.

2023 Achievements:

  • Built a dedicated team of psychology and business experts, alongside a robust network of supporters and volunteers
  • Established organizational structure, founded a nonprofit, employed an Employer of Record (EoR) to hire international talent, and set up efficient communication and project management systems
  • Created playbooks for program development integrating best practices in behavioral health, wellbeing, and user research
  • Developed and executed a program aimed at improving the mental health and effectiveness of Effective Altruists (EAs). Supported 55 EAs (out of 350 applicants), trained 6 facilitators (out of over 120 applicants)
  • Observed encouraging signs of (N=42) pre-post change over 12 weeks: Participants reported an approximate 40% increase in productivity (~9 hours/week) and a 16-28% reduction in mental health burden such as depression and anxiety. Noted a low dropout rate of 7% (N=3)
  • Automated program processes for scalability, including participant and facilitator selection, onboarding, data analysis, and reporting
  • Supported individuals across various sectors including existential risk (X-risk), AI safety, animal welfare, global policy, global health and development, and social inequality
  • Had a lot of laughs and fun together as a team across multiple countries

Plans for 2024:

  • Run various program formats in randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with a broader participant base
  • Aim to deliver the program to more EAs (approximately 150), explore potential new audience segments, and grow the team
  • Experiment with different formats (e.g., one-on-one, in-person groups) and content (e.g., Internal Family Systems) to diversify offerings
  • Seek assessment by GiveWell’s team with the aspiration of becoming a top charity
  • Evaluate and refine our program to enhance its cost-effectiveness and broaden its impact

Rethink Wellbeing also provided the following message to donors:

Your support will enable us to expand our team, improve our services, and meet the increasing need for quality mental health support. Every donation plays a role in contributing to the potential productivity and effectiveness of a community committed to tackling the world's most pressing issues.

Impact Metrics:

Based on our early cost-effectiveness analysis, it takes ~$25 to deliver 1 hour of support to a participant, ~$350 supports one participant, $5,000 allows us to hire 1 of our team members, and $30,000 is our monthly operating cost. Our programs will stay at zero cost to the participant who can't afford it thanks to your donations.

Join us in our journey to potentially scale Rethink Wellbeing's impact, explore cost-effectiveness, and contribute to societal benefit. To learn more about our endeavors and the promising developments of 2023, please read our detailed EA Forum report.

What information does Giving What We Can have about the cost-effectiveness of Rethink Wellbeing?1.

We don't currently have further information about the cost-effectiveness of Rethink Wellbeing beyond it doing work in a high-impact cause area and taking a reasonably promising approach.

Please note that GWWC does not evaluate individual charities. Our recommendations are based on the research of third-party, impact-focused charity evaluators our research team has found to be particularly well-suited to help donors do the most good per dollar, according to their recent evaluator investigations. Our other supported programs are those that align with our charitable purpose — they are working on a high-impact problem and take a reasonably promising approach (based on publicly-available information).

At Giving What We Can, we focus on the effectiveness of an organisation's work -- what the organisation is actually doing and whether their programs are making a big difference. Some others in the charity recommendation space focus instead on the ratio of admin costs to program spending, part of what we’ve termed the “overhead myth.” See why overhead isn’t the full story and learn more about our approach to charity evaluation.