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Neal O’Farrell is an award-winning cybersecurity expert who hacked his own brain to try and figure out mental and brain health. His and others.

After his own brain finally broke under the weight of decades of untreated mental illnesses, he spent years hacking brain health. Investigating every theory, treatment, and therapy, what worked and what didn’t work and most important of all, the science behind them. And then trying these ideas on himself, a human lab rat.

The results of his research are the 15 pillars. 15 science-supported strategies, habits, and values that not only have the capacity to significantly improve brain and mental health, but can improve every part of your life.

He’s now using his skills to address the mental health and chronic stress problems experienced by cybersecurity professionals, the world’s digital first responders.

And he’s currently leading his most ambitious effort yet, a global initiative with the UN to help communities around the world become more emotionally and psychologically resilient to growing disasters, crises, and climate change. And with a particular focus on teen resilience.

He recently led a study under the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to explore how future smart cities could sync with and improve the brain and mental health of their residents.

He also created the first ever mental health website for the City of Cincinnati, approved by the entire city council, and is a member of MTV’s Mental Health Action Network.

If you’re interested, you can read his full bio here.


We Are Not Our Thoughts

“My first mental illnesses began to emerge, to show themselves, when I was in my early teens, but weren’t diagnosed until I was in my late 20s. Depression, social anxiety with avoidant personality, ADD, and years later, suicidal ideation.

And it took a close call with suicide to finally persuade me that I don’t have this, I’m not in charge, I’m not coping well, something needs to change.

Like so many struggling with mental illnesses, part of the exhaust, the byproduct, was stress. In my case, chronic stress and eventual burnout that resulted from decades of trying to live with all these demons, trying to get through life with them, and most of all trying to hide them from everyone so that my growing cybersecurity career wouldn’t be derailed.

And it was by tackling my stress first that I discovered how powerful these 15 pillars can be. How simple changes in my thinking were able to tame something I had lived with for decades and thought I could never escape.

I only wish I knew then what I know now, although most of the science just wasn’t there back then. But there’s no excuse now, and today’s teens should not have to face the same challenges without having all these skills and tools available to them.

One of the most profound statements I heard in my journey was that “you’re not your thoughts, you’re not what you think, but you are how you think.” And that’s something we absolutely can take charge of.”


“Neal received our Highest Attendee Satisfaction Survey Results. 95% Overall Value and 93% Education Value. Huge!”

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