A man in a white hooded sweatshirt stands with his arms crossed in front of the VCU Rams logo.
Joe Bamisile launched a new social media mental health app called Maunda as part of his interdisciplinary studies capstone at VCU. (Thomas Kojcsich, Enterprise Marketing and Communications)

VCU basketball player Joe Bamisile offers a big assist for mental health

His new app, developed in his undergraduate interdisciplinary studies program, is already finding an audience.

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Joe Bamisile wants to take the future as it comes. He tries not to force things. But he remains dedicated to excellence in anything he pursues. 

If Bamisile puts up double-digit points as a guard on Virginia Commonwealth University’s men’s basketball team? That’s great. If, in five years, he is leading a company based on his app, which just launched and focuses on mental health and well-being? That’s great, too. If he’s in the NBA  – or using his MBA – instead? Excellent.

And if he’s doing all those things, all the better.

“You can be really good at something and not have to stake your whole life on it,” Bamisile said. “It’s really cool to have all of these opportunities, and it’s great to just let it see where it goes instead of needing it to go to an exact place. … I find that comforting.”

Bamisile, who graduated this spring with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from University College, is now pursuing a master’s in rehabilitation and mental health counseling in the College of Health Professions. It was in his IDS capstone where his professor tasked him to create a business plan for the social media mental health app, Maunda, that he was envisioning. In that moment, everything got real.

“I was like, this can actually be what I present to clients and stakeholders,” Bamisile said. “I had to keep in mind who the app was for, and from there, I started to blend elements of communications and sociology to help meet individual needs within the application. It was a really helpful process. It gave me a blueprint to launch.

“Class ended and then it was like, alright, let me put what I did in my capstone class into actual action in the real world,” he said.

And that is exactly what happened. Throughout his IDS capstone, Bamisile refined – with the help of his professor, Vineeta Singh, Ph.D. – his vision for Maunda, and right as he was about to graduate, he launched it in May.

The app has already been welcomed by thousands of users. Bamisile hopes it encourages users to make note of their well-being and incorporate daily breaks for themselves. He knows that the practices that are built into the app, such as meditation, have helped him balance the stress of everyday life.

“The first thing is I want the app to help people to just stop,” Bamisile said. “I don’t think people realize it sometimes, but everything is so fast-paced. I want to help people take five minutes to just stop and slow down.”

He also hopes Maunda can help people connect and build a positive community. Users can post a story, do group meditation and engage in other ways on the app.

“No matter how good your own personal mental health is, if you feel isolated or you’re not connected to other people, you’re still going to suffer in many ways,” Bamisile said. “That’s why I wanted to build this platform to try and combat that aspect of the mind.”

Maunda includes a feature called the Vanishing Journal. Users receive a prompt about their day, giving them a chance to reflect and vent their frustrations. And after they hit submit, the entry disappears.

“What we’re trying to capture here is for someone to think about their last 24 hours, write it down, hit submit and then let it go,” Bamisile said. “It is meant to be a kind of cathartic release.”

Maunda also allows users to track activities, so if they journal or meditate, they can build a streak. This can encourage them to take a few minutes each day to stop and devote attention to their mental health. 

Bamisile is from Chesterfield County, and though a handful of college transfers led him across the state and country, he is glad to have landed back at his home university.

“Coming to VCU has easily been the best decision I’ve made in my life,” Bamisile said. “Not only did I get to come home and support my family, I also started to find passion in other things, like wanting to continue my education. That has become really important to me. I also just really love the basketball program and the coaching staff.

“In my core, I’m just a dreamer. I don’t think anything is impossible,” he said. “I think since I have that lens, it’s just all about keeping everything balanced.”