Jewel Is Helping to Fill the Mental Health Treatment Gap


Photo by Steve Jennings/WireImage

As a singer/songwriter, author, and actress, Jewel has been in our national consciousness for nearly 30 years. And while we may not have been aware of it, she has been thinking and talking about mental health throughout that time. As someone with a difficult upbringing who was thrust into the spotlight at a young age, self-care has long been a critical tool for the four-time Grammy-nominated artist.

Now, she's looking to help others as they navigate their mental health journeys. Along with Noah Robinson, a psychology doctoral candidate, she co-founded Innerworld, a virtual platform for individuals to seek mental health help in a group setting using techniques based on proven strategies like cognitive behavioral therapy. This metaverse-based platform represents a major step forward in a world where more and more people are seeking help for mental health but don't always have access to the right tools or resources.

Filling the Mental Health Gap

"Mental health care has not had the same innovations as other fields," Jewel says. "Not to mention we are suffering from a bottleneck in the industry due to this old model—there are not enough therapists for patients."

She notes that we are facing a shortage of 500,000 therapists. And in the wake of COVID, many of the therapists we do have are overbooked and often feel the effects of burnout.

"I do not feel optimistic that we will be able to answer that call and fill the gap," Jewel says, "and that is why I have invested in developing solutions that work in scalable ways, like Innerworld." She also stresses the importance of self-care and self-empowerment.

What I have learned is that no one will care about your mental health as much as you do.


"The more responsibility you can take to be proactive and empower yourself to discover what does and does not work for yourself, the better your outcomes will be," Jewel says. "Our own curiosity and observation can not be undervalued, as they can lead to tremendous solutions."

Until such a time that there are enough mental health professionals available to meet the demand, platforms like Innerworld can play a significant role in mental self-care and peer support.

Innerworld: Therapy for the Modern Era

Innerworld uses existing, research-backed methods like CBT and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) in a virtual space to help ensure access to tried-and-true treatment methods for those who may lack traditional access to therapy due to cost, availability of therapists, or other issues.

"I co-founded Innerworld to be the answer to the problem without a mental health care system," Jewel says. "It is a peer-to-peer group model, based on best-in-class tools such as DBT, CBT, and CBI (Cognitive Behavioral Immersion)—Innerworld’s proprietary and scalable technique."

The goal of the company is to train individuals in the skills needed to lead group meetings based on specific pain points, such as grief, social anxiety, and more. Innerworld provides a safe and anonymous group setting to learn the kinds of tools that can help create change in your life.

While this venture is somewhat on the cutting edge, Jewel and Robinson understand the importance of building a trustworthy platform. "We are a clinical research platform with rigorous scientific oversight, and we track our outcomes the way other psychological institutions do," she says.

Our goal is to offer the relief and results people need, in a scalable and safe way. We are also a social platform where people can come for a safe community to find connection to others facing similar issues.

Modeling Behavior for the Next Generation

Jewel is also keen to provide a space for talking about mental health at home with her son. Her holistic approach takes both the physical and the mental into account.

"We learn to have good dental habits and hygiene. We learn to have good physical habits and hygiene, such as exercise and learning about diet and food as fuel. And we learn to have good emotional and mental hygiene as well," she says.

Just as she does with Innerworld, she is focused on teaching skills that will be usable well into the future. She says this includes tools like "good self-care, how to take brain breaks, and how to meditate."

Learning to weed out negative thoughts should be as normal as learning to floss.

Just as she has learned the value of self-care, she's instilling that same energy at home, whether for her son or herself. She knows the best version of a mental health day is not taking care of yourself on a particular day every once in a while but making sure you take helpful steps every single day.

"It's lifestyle changes that make the biggest difference," she says. "Instilling daily habits lead to great outcomes." With that in mind, she does her best to do the following every single day: get outside, meditate, and be aware of her thoughts and feelings. This has helped her avoid toxicity and build nourishing connections, she says.

Using Her Journey to Help Others

Jewel has known the struggle of dealing with mental health issues on a daily basis and is doing her best to share what she has learned on her journey.

"When you are lost in the throes of depression, anxiety, or down cycles, it can be easy to lose perspective," Jewel says. "For these times, it's good to note the concept of ‘emotional impermanence.’" She notes that all things change, no matter what mood you may be dealing with, and that she is proof there are ways to help things change faster.

My journey in life has been learning what to do with pain. My songs have helped me a lot with pain. And sharing the things that work so others may be able to get through them faster, or not give up, is incredibly rewarding.

As a celebrity who was, essentially, an early adopter of openness around mental health, it's no surprise that Jewel remains comfortable with the subject.

"I have never found sharing my story vulnerable or scary. I think it’s because I know I have not invented a feeling or gone through a situation that is new or unique," she says. "We all go through stress, anxiety, betrayal, self-loathing, overcompensation, and so many more things as part of life. So why hide from it and act like we all don't? It does no good."

She says it feels better to be open and honest, knowing that can build empathy, connection, and strength. This is how she has built deep friendships and meaningful relationships with people she can turn to in times of trouble.

While Jewel has done and continues to do so much to help others, she knows none of that would be possible without taking the necessary steps to care for herself. "It's a human’s duty to take responsibility for their own happiness," she says. "The things that make me happy are service, solving complex problems, being a mom, and being creative. That's why I use my platform to help in this field; it makes me happy."

By Nick Ingalls, MA
Nick Ingalls, MA is the associate editorial director at Verywell Mind, managing new content production and editorial processes. He has been with Verywell since its inception in 2016.