At Healthy Minds Innovations our mission is to translate science into tools to cultivate and measure well-being, and we strive for a vision of a kinder, wiser, more compassionate world.
About Healthy Minds Innovations
Healthy Minds Innovations, Inc. (HMI) was started in 2014 by world-renowned neuroscientist Dr. Richard Davidson. We are a nonprofit affiliated with the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison driven by a mission to translate science into tools to cultivate and measure well-being.
HMI takes the discoveries and insights gleaned from the Center’s research–as well as that of our own scientific team–and translates them into tools that help people around the world build skills of well-being. In addition to creating products and services and sharing them widely, HMI also manages philanthropic activities, public speaking engagements, and special initiatives.
History of Healthy Minds Innovations
Richard Davidson joins the faculty at University of Wisconsin-Madison and establishes the university’s first lab focused on emotion and the brain, called the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience. Early research in the lab focuses on mood and emotion in children and adults, concentrating on how variations in mood and emotion relate to well-being and mental health disorders.
In Dharamsala, India, Richard Davidson meets the Dalai Lama. “His Holiness challenged me and asked why we are not using the tools of modern neuroscience to study qualities such as kindness and compassion rather than negative qualities of the mind such as depression and anxiety. I had no good answer, and on that day, I made a commitment to His Holiness and to myself that I would do everything within my power to help place these positive qualities on the scientific map.” – Dr. Richard Davidson
The Center for Healthy Minds, formerly the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, is founded at the Waisman Center at UW-Madison. With the support of generous donors and community members, the Center expands the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience’s scope to include applied research on well-being outside of the lab in classrooms and the workplace.
The Center for Healthy Minds develops the Kindness Curriculum, its first foray into developing tools out of scientific findings, in this case for early childhood.
Dr. Cortland Dahl, then a PhD student under Dr. Davidson’s mentorship, makes the scientific case for studying different forms of meditation and practice. “We realized that if we want to expand our research beyond mindfulness, we’d need a new scientific framework and a new approach to cultivating well-being. In short, we need a new program. Those early discussions planted the seeds for what eventually became the Healthy Minds Program.”
Years of research culminate in the Center’s scientists authoring a feature article in a special issue of Scientific American on the science of meditation, examining how ancient contemplative practices can influence the mind, body, and well-being.
Healthy Minds Innovations, Inc. created to put the decades of ground-breaking research of Dr. Richard Davidson and the Center for Healthy Minds into action. “The first impetus for starting HMI really began with a conversation I had with a close Center for Healthy Minds donor. I ran into him in New York City and he pulled me aside and said ‘Richie do you really think that if you had the funding to do the best most important series of research studies, that the world would suddenly change in the way we all aspire it to change.’ And it was the beginning of a wake up call for me that the scientific research was necessary but it wasn’t sufficient and that we needed to really figure out how we can begin to act and disseminate in a way that was informed by the scientific research but was not the scientific research in and of itself.” – Dr. Richard Davidson
First version of the Healthy Minds Program mobile app utilizing the ACIP (Awareness + Connection + Insight + Purpose) framework developed. “What we do is based on a comprehensive framework for well-being. It’s not a mindfulness platform. The analogy I use most often is you would never go to the gym and just work on your upper body. If you did that it would be good for your upper body for awhile but eventually it would lead to imbalance. And the same is true for mindfulness.” – Dr. Richard Davidson
With rising rates of stress and burnout in the workplace, Healthy Minds @Work® is piloted with several organizations, bringing a path to a Healthy Mind to the (sometimes remote) office.
Healthy Minds Program App made available to the individual users for the first time, allowing anyone to download and access the program. Initially available in the United States, the Healthy Minds Program has since been released in over 130 countries.
The first 8-week randomized controlled trial conducted by scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Center for Healthy Minds (Goldberg et al., in preparation) on the Healthy Minds Program yields dramatic results. Overall, study participants found reduction in their stress by 28%, symptoms of depression by 24% and anxiety by 18%, and increased feelings of social connection by 13%. (Results are based on group averages and will vary from person to person. Healthy Minds Program is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or medical condition.)
Healthy Minds Program App becomes donation based, in line with our vision and mission. The decision to make the app freely available to individuals is based on the generosity of our donors and the guiding principle to put our well-being tools in the hands of as many people as possible, not just a privileged few. “I really feel a moral calling [to help people develop well-being as a skill], because I feel most people would agree that the trajectory we’ve been on is not a particularly healthy or sustainable one. Everyone has a role to play in this, everyone can be a participant, just like with climate science. Everyone can play a constructive role in helping the planet heal.” – Dr. Davidson
The Healthy Minds Framework is published for the first time in the prestigious scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The paper, entitled The Plasticity of Well-being: A Training-based Framework for the Cultivation of Human Flourishing, summarizes a large body of research on the four pillars of well-being – awareness, connection, insight, and purpose – showing how each pillar supports well-being and the underlying neuroscience indicating how they can be trained. “The framework paints an incredibly hopeful view of the human mind and brain,” says Dr. Cortland Dahl, the lead author of the framework. “Well-being is not determined by our genes or circumstances. Each of us can take simple steps to strengthen these four pillars of well-being.”
Meet Our Founder
Our founder is best known for his groundbreaking work studying emotion and the brain. A friend and confidante of the Dalai Lama, he is a highly sought-after expert and speaker, leading conversations on well-being on international stages such as the World Economic Forum, where he serves on the Global Council on Mental Health.
Our team is filled to the brim with expertise across multiple disciplines, representing the best of academia, nonprofit, tech, startup, and creative agencies.
Become a part of a community of like-minded people who care deeply about our world by investing in our mission with a tax-deductible gift. Your contribution gives us necessary resources to bring well-being tools to the world and invest in citizen science in pursuit of our vision of a kinder, wiser, more compassionate world.