Dave Kerpen, the CEO of a company that offers mental health services, has been through a lot as a Mets fan.
There was the series-ending walk in the 1999 NLCS, falling to the Yankees in the 2000 World Series and the late-season collapses of 2007 and 2008. Worst of all, he says, was Carlos Beltran’s strikeout in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS.
Yes, the average Mets fan is accustomed to trauma.
So in the middle of another down season, Kerpen decided to do something about it. His company, UMA Health, is offering something he believes might be more valuable to individual Mets fans than any trade or signing: A free therapy session.
Self-identifying Mets fans can get a promotional code for a trip to a therapist’s sofa. All they have to do is fill out an online form detailing their “most difficult Mets moment” and they will be able to see any therapist in UMA Health’s network under $200.
“It can be very frustrating to watch as your team goes out and makes mistake after mistake,” Kerpen said. “We often talk about our teams like we can control them. So I thought to myself, ‘I can’t make the Mets any better, but maybe I can make Mets fans’ lives a little better by offering free therapy.’”
UMA Health allows users to find and pay for therapists on its website, which Kerpen hopes will help alleviate some of the Mets-induced misery. Kerpen said the frustration has been a part of his life since he was 10.
“I’ve been a lifelong Mets fan and 1986 was my first year watching the team,” he said.
“It’s been downhill ever since.”
Kerpen said he came up with the idea earlier this year, but he wanted to wait for something “Mets” to happen before doing the promotion. Then, on Tuesday night, the Mets suffered a historically embarrassing 25-4 loss to the Nationals in which infielder Jose Reyes pitched and allowed six runs in the eighth inning. It was the worst defeat in franchise history.
He says a couple dozen fans have already signed up for the deal, which went online Wednesday. The primary goal of the lighthearted promotion is more to raise awareness of therapy than any sort of real benefit for the mental health of Mets fans, Kerpen said.
“If this becomes an excuse for someone to seek out help for their marriage or career, that would be great,” he said. “If they want to talk about the Mets, they can do that too.
“My long-term vision is to make therapy less stigmatized. In this society, we idolize physical fitness. If you say you’re going to the gym, you get a high five. If you say you’re going to therapy, you get asked ‘what’s wrong?’ ”
The Mets are in the middle of a bad season and find themselves at 44-61, a whopping 14 games behind the Phillies in the NL East. This all comes after what was the Mets’ best start in franchise history, in which they began the season 12-2.
Star pitcher Noah Syndergaard even came down with hand, foot and mouth disease, of all things.
Last year wasn’t kind too Mets fans, either. After a National League pennant and a wild-card game, the Mets sunk to fourth in the division. Mr. Met even lost it at one point when he was caught on camera sticking up his middle finger to a fan.
But Kerpen said that therapists won’t necessarily be blindsided by requests to talk about Yoenis Cespedes’ heels — they will be warned ahead of time that a Mets fan is coming.
“I don’t think you need to be a Mets fan to be sympathetic to what they face,” he said.
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