Actress, dancer, and mental health advocate Alyson Stoner has launched a new platform called Movement Genius. Over the years, she's become outspoken about the difficulties she faced growing up as a child star. Now, she is using her past experiences to shine a light on the kind of treatment others in Hollywood continue to face and to help those in need.
Alyson is taking the next step in her advocacy journey and spoke exclusively with Distractify about how her views on mental health have evolved and how the platform she has created will hopefully help those who are struggling.
Alyson Stoner opens up about advocating for mental health.
Alyson tells Distractify that traditionally, mental health only focuses on the wellbeing of the brain. She explains that mental health is typically only seen as something that can be worked on "from the neck up," and it doesn't account for the fact that the brain is in the body.
Connecting the two has caused Alyson to reevaluate her own mental health journey and advocate for the importance of both psychological and physical health. The former child star has participated in panels at institutions like Newport Academy where she talks about how mental and physical health interconnect.
"If we want to care for our minds but we're not understanding the mind-body connection, we're missing the opportunity to take that back," the 27-year-old tells us. "If you can get to know the story that you're telling in your mind and body, you can also then free yourself to change that story."
Alyson reveals to us that she went on her "own journey" of reconnecting with her body so she could embody her "truest, most authentic" self.
Additionally, mainstream mental health is often focused on talk therapy and behavioral and thought pattern changes, according to Alyson. "From a society standpoint, the way we do the body currently is more, it tends to be more of an object that we're trying to fix, or it's a project that we're trying to complete," she tells us.
Alyson says that growing up, wellness wasn't depicted as the kind of journey she's on now. Instead, it was more of a checklist with "rituals" that had to be completed if you were going to be happy. "It seemed like if I didn't do those things, then I would stop the feeling," she says.
The Step Up star is now working on focusing inward on her sense of self instead of relying on wellness products.
"What I'm hoping for is an even deeper transformation where even if I'm stuck on an island, and I don't have access to expensive products or elite retreats, or we know all of the supplies and tools, and I only have my mind and body, I can still feel OK," she says.
After educating herself over the years and experiencing her own personal journey with mental health, Alyson is putting her knowledge to good use.
Alyson's new platform called Movement Genius seeks to help people connect their bodies and minds in order to improve mental health.
Alyson founded her wellness platform Movement Genius with her sibling, Correy O’Neal, and it has a founding faculty of people from all walks of life. "I intentionally wanted to make a virtuous cycle where individuals supporting their own mental and physical well-being is actually supporting someone else's by helping themselves," she tells Distractify.
Movement Genius is meant to "help people feel safe and comfortable and confident in their skin."
She makes it clear that Movement Genius is not meant to be a replacement for therapy or professional help. But she points out that her team works with clinicians to develop "tools and classes that can help people support themselves." She adds, "[People] don't have to feel like they're alienated and removed from the chance of being able to feel better."
For Alyson, Movement Genius is the platform she didn't know she needed growing up because there was no proper mental health education. "It's bittersweet to think that we live in a body for our entire lives, yet it can feel like a foreign land to us," she says. "We don't even understand it or we feel detached or for our own safety and survival reasons we've shut down."
Alyson wants others to know they possess the tools to educate themselves, connect their bodies and their minds, and work toward finding true health and happiness.