Photo courtesy of MindBar

Much easier than finding a therapist is finding laments at the cost and accessibility of mental health care. Group therapy is more affordable, but still a pricey and intimidating commitment. Text therapy like BetterHelp costs a lot more and often feels stilted. Now, a new Austin-based platform is paving the way for another option.

Although it may not replace the need for talk therapy entirely, MindBar, which launched in July, spreads the workload of coaches and therapists across many clients, keeps things online, and ultimately sets users up at their own pace. Like MasterClass for mental health, the app reduces the barrier to entry to just $14.99 per month.

The one-way service definitely can’t listen and identify a user’s thought patterns, or recommend personalized courses of action, but it can provide a wide series of useful primers to bring into talk therapy later, augment less frequent sessions, or just facilitate some preventative care and curiosity about the mind.

“MindBar has gained considerable traction since its launch in July, and our members have enjoyed the wide range of tools to cultivate a healthy mind,” writes MindBar founder Hailey O’Neill in an email interview. “We set out to represent the idea that mental health is a right, not a luxury, and the growth we’ve already seen within our app and its members is beginning to deliver on that ambition.”

Although MindBar is not therapy, it's also not YouTube. Classes take an experience or topic — stress, grief, and self-esteem to name a few — and break it down into video modules and worksheets. Each is organized and taught by one “teacher,” whose qualifications are clearly laid out in her biography from “years of coaching,” to therapy certifications and PhDs. Instead of browsing individual videos, users join each class; it’s just a click, but it feels distinct from mental health apps that encourage tackling everything at once.

Take the “Body Image” class as an example: It contains six modules of around 15 minutes, each paired with a multi-part “worksheet" of open-ended questions and text boxes for journaling on the platform. These are then wrapped up in a friendly little print out for those who’d prefer to write. If a user decided to moderate their own experience to simulate the commitment of traditional therapy (say 50 minutes biweekly), just taking this class could fill six to twelve weeks. Compare $30 for two months of MindBar to $450 for three therapy sessions.

Since MindBar exposes a user to the theory and methods of one particular professional, further avenues open up for extra or post-curricular work. Molly Seifert teaches “Body Image.” On Seifert’s MindBar biography page, there’s a link to her website and social media. Her credentials point out her 22-episode podcast, What She Gained, adding roughly 10 hours of free content to a user’s journey, should they follow her off the platform.

There is a button to book a session — something MindBar is working on finalizing — and on Seifert’s website, she offers a more involved “Body Confidence Program” that costs $897. Most users likely will not end up signing up for a teacher’s nearly-$1,000 group therapy track. However, the opportunity is there to follow this thread from a dip of the toes to a full-blown client-provider relationship.

A 2021 report by Sapien Labs’ Mental Health Million Project 2021 found that in the United States, 37 percent of respondents who did not seek help for clinical mental health problems did so because they lacked confidence in the mental health system. Nearly as many, 34 percent, did not know what kind of help to seek. More than a quarter preferred self-help. Imagine the shift if these respondents had a self-paced, minimal commitment platform that funneled them to professionals they learned to trust.

As of August 31, there are 26 classes on MindBar. One-on-one scheduling with MindBar teachers became available on September 18. Sign up at mind-bar.com.

Photo courtesy of Texas Original

Houston gets its first permanent medical cannabis pickup location

How Convenient

Houston's first medical cannabis location is now open — a historic milestone that is bringing life-changing medicine even closer to thousands of Texans.

Texas Original, the state’s largest and longest-running medical cannabis provider, opened the pickup location in June to serve thousands of existing patients and new qualifying patients throughout the greater Houston area.

The facility is conveniently located in the Heights neighborhood at 1714 Houston Ave. and is the first of its kind in the city.

The location operates Tuesday through Saturday from 11 am-6 pm and provides patients access to a full suite of medical cannabis products, including medical-grade gummies, tinctures, and lozenges.

In addition to the new Houston location, Texas Original operates the state’s largest network of medical cannabis pickup locations.

Texans who are interested in trying this medicine can get a medical cannabis prescription in just a few simple steps.

Ready to find out if medical cannabis is right for you? Texas Original makes the process easy.

Schedule your appointment
To set your appointment, visit Texas Original’s website and fill out the form. Texas Original will connect you with a trusted virtual clinic to see if medical cannabis is right for you.

Next, the doctor will review your medical records and confirm if you are eligible for medical cannabis, then discuss your treatment plan. Once approved, your doctor will add your prescription to an online medical cannabis registry where it can be accessed by licensed dispensaries.

Place your order
After your appointment, call 512-614-0343 to place your first order. Texas Original offers the state’s leading medical-grade cannabis products, including Texas’ first fast-acting medical cannabis gummies designed specifically to alleviate sleep-related issues.

All products undergo rigorous testing and the results are published publicly on Texas Original’s website for patients to access anytime.

Pick up your prescription
Texas Original offers a robust medical cannabis distribution network and serves patients in all four corners of the state.

Patients can receive their medicine by picking up from one of their many pickup locations across Texas, including their permanent pickup location in Houston. When you call to fill your prescription, a medical cannabis expert will help you select your pickup location and time.

Texas Original will celebrate five years of serving the state in October, making it the longest-running and only Texas-owned medical cannabis provider in the Texas market.

If you or a loved one are ready to start your journey with medical cannabis, just reach out to Texas Original to get started. Plus, enjoy a 20 percent discount on your first order at Texas Original.

Photo courtesy of Texas Original

Find it in the Heights neighborhood at 1714 Houston Ave.

Photo courtesy of GiGi's Playhouse Sugar Land

GiGi's Playhouse Sugar Land

GiGi's Playhouse Sugar Land< div> WEBSITE >
MISSION

GiGi’s Playhouse Down Syndrome Achievement Center's mission is to change the way the world views Down syndrome through national campaigns, educational programs, and by empowering individuals with Down syndrome, their families, and the community. They offer free therapeutic and educational programming to individuals with Down syndrome and their families.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED

Contact GiGi's Playhouse Sugar Land to volunteer, or visit the website to donate or to find out about upcoming fundraisers. With ever-increasing demand to expand its free programs — all designed to help improve participants' speech, literacy, math, wellness and career skills. Fundraising and donations will help children and adults with Down syndrome succeed by greatly improving speech and literacy skills, by combating low muscle tone via wellness programs, and by expanding real-world career skills.

BIG EVENT

The gala is the largest, most important fundraiser of the year for GiGi's Playhouse Sugar Land, and will be centered around celebrating individuals with Down syndrome. The event is a fun-filled evening with a sit-down dinner, open bar, entertainment, wine and whiskey pull, live auction, a raffle, and much more.

March of Dimes Texas

March of Dimes Texas< div> WEBSITE >
MISSION

March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies. Every baby deserves the best possible start, but unfortunately not all get one. For 80 years, March of Dimes has helped millions of babies survive and thrive. Now they're building on that legacy to level the playing field for all moms and babies, no matter their age, socio-economic background, or demographics. 

HOW TO GET INVOLVED

More than 3 million volunteers enable the March of Dimes to achieve its goals. Every year, these leaders march more than 5 million miles, speak to tens of thousands of people about the mission, and help raise millions of dollars. From the very earliest days, volunteers have been full partners in the March of Dimes, working to raise funds, heighten awareness, and implement critical programs to help support our mission.

Another way to get involved is to donate here

BIG EVENT

The biggest event that the Dallas chapter of March of Dimes holds is the March for Babies in May. For more information on events in Dallas, click here

People have been walking in the March for Babies since 1970 and have raised an incredible $2.3 billion to benefit all babies. March for Babies San Antonio will have 1-mile and 5K route options, all fully accessible. There's fun for the entire family, including the Super Hero Sprint for children 12 and under. There is no registration fee and no minimum fundraising — every dollar makes a difference.

The Signature Chefs Auction is a high-profile gala that pays tribute to the culinary excellence of San Antonio's prominent chefs, while raising money to improve the health of all moms and babies. Taste the chefs' creations while bidding on the silent auction packages, before taking your seats for the live auction and Fund the Mission.

Photo courtesy of Alexanders Fine Portrait Design

Ronald McDonald House Houston

Ronald McDonald House Houston< div> WEBSITE >
MISSION

Ronald McDonald House Houston offers a home away from home, providing care, compassion, and hope to families with seriously ill children being treated in Texas Medical Center member institutions. In the last three decades, its vision has grown to include: the Holcombe House, a freestanding, 50-bedroom home for longer term stays; a house inside Texas Children’s Hospital with 20 bedrooms; a house inside Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital with 14 bedrooms; four Family Rooms inside Texas Children’s Hospital; and more.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED

Over 600 volunteers serve the eight locations throughout the Texas Medical Center, providing love and support to thousands of families each year by baking cookies, greeting families at check-in, hosting meals and activities and so much more. Head here to learn more about volunteering with Ronald McDonald House Houston.

MEMBERSHIP

Friends is a membership organization of dedicated volunteers who offer their time, talents, and resources to coordinate family events and fundraising efforts. Annually, Friends members participate in group meetings, family dinners, birthday parties, and more.

Young Friends is an organization of passionate young professionals who focus on volunteering, fundraising, socializing, networking, and supporting special events. Young Friends bring enthusiasm and fun to all the children who call RMH Houston home. Annually, Young Friends members participate in meetings, family dinners, socials, community fundraising events, and more.

BIG EVENT

RMH Houston's annual Boo Ball is a whimsical gala filled with spooktacular entertainment including auctions, mystery trick or treat bags, and guests suited in black-tie gear or optional Halloween flare. 

Epiphany Community Health Outreach Services (ECHOS) Facebook

Epiphany Community Health Outreach Services (ECHOS)

Epiphany Community Health Outreach Services (ECHOS)< div> WEBSITE >
MISSION

In 2001, in response to the dramatic change in southwest Houston's demographics, the parishioners of the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany established Epiphany Community Health Outreach Services (ECHOS). Its mission is to connect people in need with health, social, and educational resources that can improve their lives.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED

You can get involved as a volunteer, supporter, or ambassador. The organization is looking for food pantry, ESL, and vision screening volunteers. For more information on how to help, click here.

BIG EVENT

ECHOS hosts an annual Chef's Dinner in the fall.

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RodeoHouston reveals Conroe-born country star Parker McCollum as 2023 Opening Day headliner

parker saddles up for rodeo

A familiar face will headline the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s wildly popular Opening Day performance. Conroe native and country star Parker McCollum will take the NRG Stadium stage on Tuesday, February 28, 2023, the rodeo announced.

Individual tickets for McCollum’s Opening Days show start at $25, plus a $4 convenience fee and are on sale at 10 am on Thursday, October 6 via rodeohouston.com. As always, an Online Waiting Room will open at 9:30 am; customers who join the Waiting Room from 9:30 to 9:59 am will be randomly selected to purchase tickets at 10 am. (A place in the Waiting Room does not guarantee tickets.) Customers can purchase a maximum of eight tickets.

McCollum, who boasts more than 3.3 million followers on Spotify with favorites such as “Pretty Heart,” “To Be Loved by You,” and “Hell of a Year,” has won fans with his mix of Americana and country, infused with a bit of blues, soul, and folk rock. Currently touring with country crooner Thomas Rhett, McCollum is a natural choice to open the 2023 RodeoHouston concert series, as the singer-songwriter drew a crowd of 73,243 at last year’s rodeo, marking the fourth-highest paid rodeo/concert attendance in 2022.

Fittingly, custom-designed caps commemorating Opening Day and McCollum’s return to RodeoHouston will be available for purchase online.

New for 2023, a special Opening Day celebration will feature a performance by a local band on the Stars Over Texas Stage before McCollum’s show. Special giveaways will include 10,000 custom-made Howdy bobbleheads for early arrivers that morning (starting at 10 am). Visitors can expect a host of activities including an Opening Day Parade at NRG Park.

As for the highly anticipated 2023 RodeoHouston entertainer will be announced at a later date, plus more Opening Day details, per the rodeo.

“Everyone looks forward to the upcoming Rodeo season all year long, and we hope all Rodeo fans will circle Opening Day on their 2023 calendars, as this will be a day you won’t want to miss,” Chris Boleman, rodeo president and CEO, noted in a statement. “February 28 will truly be a Houston-themed celebration, as we kick off the 2023 Rodeo season with Houston’s-own country music star Parker McCollum closing out the day with another unforgettable RodeoHouston performance.”

The 2023 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and all RodeoHouston performances are scheduled for February 28–March 19, 2023 at NRG Park.

Houston high schools score high marks as Texas' best in 2022

A+ rating

Several campuses in the Houston area have earned extra credit as the best high schools in Texas.

In the latest rankings from education review website Niche, Houston's Carnegie Vanguard High School and Debakey High School for Health Professions come in No. 4 and No. 5 respectively among the state's best public high schools.

Meanwhile, Awty International School comes in at No. 2 (up from No. 3 last year) on the list of the state’s best private high schools.

Here's how Houston schools scored:

  • Houston ISD’s Carnegie Vanguard High School, No. 4 among public high schools
  • Katy ISD’s Seven Lakes High School, No. 5 among public high schools
  • William P. Clements High School, No. 5 among public high schools
  • Houston ISD’s Debakey High School for Health Professions, No. 5 among public high schools
  • Houston ISD’s Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, No. 9 among public high schools
  • The John Cooper School in The Woodlands, No. 6 among private high schools
  • The Village School in Houston, No. 7 among private high schools
  • The Kincaid School in Houston, No. 10 among private high schools
For those interested in private schools, here are the top Houston institutions this year.
  • The Awty International School
  • The John Cooper School
  • The Village School
  • The Kinkaid School
  • Strake Jesuit College Preparatory

“Some of the biggest decisions that parents face have to do with their children’s education,” Luke Skurman, founder and CEO of Niche, says in a news release. “We strive to put as much power in their hands as possible so they can make informed decisions with confidence.”

Niche says that while traditional rankings rely heavily on metrics like test scores and academic performance, its rankings combine ratings from current students, alumni, and parents with data from the U.S. Department of Education to evaluate teachers, resources, facilities, extracurricular activities and more.

Here’s how other Texas schools and school districts fared in this year’s Niche rankings.

Austin area

  • Austin ISD’s Liberal Arts & Science Academy, No. 2 among public high schools
  • Eanes ISD’s Westlake High School, No. 6 among public high schools
  • Round Rock ISD’s Westwood High IB World School, No. 8 among public high schools
  • St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Austin, No. 4 among private high schools
  • Eanes ISD, No. 1 among best school districts
Dallas area

Dallas ISD’s School for the Talented & Gifted tops the list of the state’s best public high schools, and St. Mark’s School of Texas in Dallas leads the list of the state’s best private high schools. Both schools ranked first on their respective Niche lists last year.

San Antonio area

  • Keystone School in San Antonio, No. 9 among private high schools
  • BASIS Texas Charter Schools in San Antonio, No. 4 among school districts

Rio Grande Valley

  • South Texas ISD in Mercedes, No. 2 among school districts

Here are the top 15 things to do in Houston this weekend

weekend event planner

Could that weird sensation we're feeling be...breeze? Yes, Houston is finally cooling, which means outdoor fun, outdoor dining (check out our patio guide here), and more.

This weekend sees cool art shows, cool music — including a Selena tribute — and boozy fun at a few events. Barbie fans can catch the Malibu truck in The Woodlands, while a hot sauce fest brings the heat and a tasty chef fest serves up delicious bites. And Sunday, a buzzy podcasting trio gets ladylike.

Enjoy; here are your best bets for the weekend.

Thursday, September 29

The Hardy & Nance Studios presents "Right Response: Artists Respond to SCOTUS"

For this three-day art show, artists will be mostly responding to the recent revocation of Roe vs Wade and how it affects Texans under SB8. Artists include Patrycja Admowicz, Katy Anderson, Sheridan Bradshaw Tonche, Ann Bromley, Anne Byrd, Thedra Cullar-Ledford, Allison Currie, Sandra de la Rosa, Esther Delaquis-Baidoo, Sharon Engelstein, Sharon Kopriva, Stephanie Larsen, Amari Lavergne, August Lewis, Kim Miranda, Michelle O’Michael, M. Morgan, Lizbeth Ortiz, Claire Richards, Leslie Roades, Anat Ronen, Leslie Roznovski, Lex Simone, Stäcy Smith, N. Waggs, and Brandi Untz. 5 pm.

WindSync: The Road to Abbey Road

Houston’s wind quintet WindSync is headed to Abbey Road. Before they travel to London to record in the legendary Studio Two at Abbey Road Studios, they'll perform music by a broad range of artists connected to Abbey Road, including the Beatles, composer Edward Elgar, Radiohead, and Uruguayan-American musician Miguel del Aguila. The performance will take place below 8th Wonder Brewery’s iiconic Beatles statues, Houston sculptor David Adickes’ tribute to the Fab Four. 7:30 pm.

The Rustic presents Bidi Bidi Banda

The Rustic will be celebrating the life and music of the incomparable Selana with this live performance from tribute band Bidi Bidi Banda. There will also be a look-alike contest, awarding top prizes to a few lucky winners who best capture the styles and fashions of La Reina de Tex-Mex. First place is a $200 Rustic gift card, while second place is a $100 gift card and third place is a $50 gift card. This event is majority standing room throughout the facility, and a full menu is available. This event is free with RSVP, so dress up and come early. 8:30 pm.

Friday, September 30

Everybody's Favorite Barbecue & Hot Sauce Festival

The presumably titled Everybody's Favorite BBQ & Hot Sauce Festival is a three-day festival featuring food and national music performances. It is a diverse event that highlights the aroma of traditional barbecue while bringing together a multicultural, outdoor social setting. And let’s not forget that bottles and bottles of hot sauce will be around for those who like their barbecue to give them that extra kick in the pants, so to speak. Musical performers will include Mark May, Dirty Red & The Soul Shakers, and Kerri Lick. 6 pm (5 pm Saturday).

Amanda Seales: The Black Outside Again Tour

Comedian, actress, podcaster and social justice advocate Amanda Seales comes to Houston as part of her new tour. With an uncanny knack for taking serious topics (racism, rape culture, sexism, police brutality, etc.) and lacing them with humor, making them relatable and interesting, she combines intellectual wit, silliness, and a pop-culture obsession to create her unique style of smart, funny content for the stage and screen. 7:30 pm.

HaVoK & Rogue Vogue present A Moonlight Masquerade

HaVoK & Rogue Vogue present this masquerade celebration, featuring a runway presentation by Sabrina Nicole’s Rogue Vogue. The event will include special guests Angela Ryan and Dan Miga Designs, a burlesque performance by Summer Dubose, a fetish performance by Mistress Meana Rose, music from DJ Whisperwish, and a vendor market (including Thorn and Moon Apothecary, Grateful Grounded Gems and others). Masquerade masks and attire are required, and the dress code will be strictly enforced. 8 pm.

Houston Symphony presents "Gershwin Concerto in F"

Brimming with the toe-tapping jazz rhythms of the 1920s, George Gershwin’s effervescent, free-spirited Concerto in F is positively guaranteed to leave audiences uplifted. Jeffrey Kahane will be both the conductor and soloist for a program celebrating great American composers, past and present, including outstanding recent compositions of Adolphus Hailstork and Shawn Okpebholo, along with the unbridled energy and heart-on-sleeve passion of Samuel Barber’s Symphony No. 1. 8 pm (2:30 pm Sunday).

Saturday, October 1

Barbie Truck Totally Throwback Malibu Tour

The Barbie Truck Totally Throwback Malibu Tour comes to The Woodlands with exclusive retro-inspired merchandise as part of its continuing U.S. tour to celebrate the 50th Anniversary and iconic heritage of the original California girl. The truck will offer an array of new '70s-themed Malibu Barbie beach apparel and accessories, including Barbie-logo embroidered denim jackets, pink Barbie-logo hoodies, tie-dye bucket hats, embroidered patch sets, stainless thermal bottles, beach towels, and more. The truck will be located near Pottery Barn and Shake Shack. 10 am.

CityCentre presents First Annual Biergarten

CityCentre will host its first-ever, two-day Biergarten. From beer aficionados to casual drinkers, all are invited to enjoy specialty drinks and food, including some new and seasonal Oktoberfest beers. The event will also include an American twist – football! So, bring some friends, take a seat, and watch football games on the huge, 23-foot TV all day long in the plaza.

Non-alcoholic beverages will also be offered. No outside food or drink is allowed, but many CityCentre restaurants will provide lite bites and meals to go for guests to enjoy as they watch the games. 11 am.

2022 H-Town on Tap Beer Fest

You are in for a great day of beer and fun at Water Works Park this weekend. This premier beer festival will showcase over 100 beers from local and national breweries. Each brewery will have a variety of beers on tap for you to enjoy throughout the day. Outside of rare beers, there will be plenty of activities to enjoy, including live bands, trendy local chefs, games, giveaways, picture booths, contests, and so much more. 2 pm.

Oktoberfest at Sugar Land Town Square

Lovers of beer, food, and family fun are invited to Sugar Land Town Square for the debut of Oktoberfest. Visitors can enjoy a curated biergarten, local marketplace by Boho Market, live music and dancing, traditional German fare, games, contests, and more. More fun includes the Dachshund Dash, stein races, and stein holding contests, tarot card readers, caricature artists, jugglers, stilt walkers, and more special surprises. Expect food from a host of local restaurants and of course, Flying Saucer Biergarten beers. Event is free, with food and drink available to purchase. 4 pm.

Weird Al Yankovic in concert with Emo Philips

"Weird Al" Yankovic burst onto the scene over three decades ago and never looked back. For the second time in his storied career, the world's foremost musical satirist and five-time Grammy winner foregoes his usual high-octane, big-production show for an intimate evening of music, focusing on original (non-parody) songs from his 14-album catalog. Marking his highly anticipated return to the concert stage after his hugely successful Strings Attached Tour in 2019, this is a rare opportunity to get up-close and personal with this legendary performer. 8 pm.

Sunday, October 2

Chefs for Farmers

For the first time ever, Chefs For Farmers will be making its official debut in the Space City with a lineup of the city's top chefs for one mouthwatering, food and wine experience. Attendees will get to devour delicious eats from over 20 of the hottest Houston chefs, who will be partnering with a variety of regional farms to curate dishes that will satisfy guests' taste buds. Each all-inclusive ticket includes unlimited bites, drinks and live entertainment. For the inaugural year, they have partnered with Houston Food Bank as the official charity partner. 1 pm.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston presents El Norte

After their family is killed in a government massacre, a brother and sister flee Guatemala on a perilous trek to the USA. Close calls with immigration and the dehumanizing effects of such a crossing compound the challenges of adapting to a new life. This timeless 1983 classic of Chicano cinema was directed by Gregory Nava (Selena). This “Movies Houstonians Love” presentation honors the late Michael Olivas, a law scholar and University of Houston professor emeritus who passed away in April 2022. Augustina Reyes, professor emerita at University of Houston College of Education, will introduce the film. 2 pm.

LadyGang presents The Lady Secrets Tour

The creators of the wildly popular podcast LadyGang — Keltie Knight, Becca Tobin, and Jac Vanek — come to Houston as part of The Lady Secrets Tour. LadyGang began with the mission to make women feel less alone. Since 2015, the show has boasted over 175 million downloads, guests like Chelsea Handler, Bethenny Frankel, Tan France, Kristin Chenoweth, Lucy Hale, Shania Twain, Paris Hilton, Darren Criss and RuPaul, topped the podcast charts, and spawned a television series, clothing line, accessories line, and a book, Act Like a Lady. 7 pm.