Mental Health Tech Trends and Key Players
Dive into the world of mental health tech by looking at some of the top companies in the space and seeing what their products do.
Mental health is a challenging topic even with recent trends to push mental health care conversations into the open. The American Psychological Association reports that while 87% of American adults don’t believe mental health disorders are anything to be ashamed of, 86% of the respondents feel a stigma is attached to the phrase “mental illness.”
That’s quite a contradiction. Regardless of the perception, US News and World Report puts the number of adult Americans suffering from some type of mental illness at one in five. Anxiety disorders top the list, with 42 million American adults (approximately 13% of the adult population) living with anxiety.
With the number of Americans who have a mental health issue but hesitate to seek treatment, the field of mental health technology is ripe for innovation. Mental health tech is developing better diagnostics and treatments as well as ways to make treatment more private and available to the 56% of adults without access toqualified mental health professionals.
Let’s look at some of the breakout companies and their digital technology for the mental health care space.
Note: This content is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, treatment, or diagnosis. Always seek the advice of your doctor or another qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition.
Meditation and Calming Apps for Improved Mental Health
According to Positive Psychology, the practice of mediation goes back as far as 5000 BC in India and didn’t reach America until the 1700s. While slow to get traction, meditation is rapidly increasing in popularity in the United States as practitioners enjoy the benefits of:
- Better overall mental and physical well-being
- Improved energy
- Improved memory and focus
- Reduced anxiety and stress
- Less depression
With investors’ backing, the meditation and mental wellness startup space is quickly growing into a billion-dollar sector. Here are a few popular smartphone apps for meditation.
If you’re new to meditation and want to give it a try, Headspace offers a free trial of their Basics course design to teach you “the essentials of meditation and mindfulness.” If you get hooked, you can subscribe to their service and receive daily meditations and mindfulness exercises designed for a variety of goals.
With over 60 million downloads, Calm promises to be the “happiest app in the world” by providing its users with sleep, meditation, and relaxation audios. The app offers guided meditations for a variety of durations, Sleep Stories narrated by celebrities to help you doze off, and countless audios to lift your spirit and relax your mind.
Dan Harris published the New York Times bestseller “10% Happier” after experiencing a panic attack while reporting the news on live TV. After discovering the power of meditation, the 10% Happier app was developed to offer users guided meditations, teachings on mindfulness, and personal coaching on your mobile device. In addition to the app, 10% Happier includes a free weekly newsletter and podcast designed to entertain and inform subscribers on their journey towards living a happier life.
TeleHealth Services for Online Therapy
The flexibility of telehealth therapy overcomes two major roadblocks to people seeking therapy services: access and stigma. Teletherapy includes video conferencing, phone sessions, and text messaging assistance from psychiatrists or mental health counselors.
These services are accessible to anyone with phone or internet services and alleviate any potential stigma associated with visiting a mental health professional’s office. Coronavirus brought these apps into the mainstream, and they won’t be fading away. Here are a couple of the top players in the space.
With celebrity backing from Michael Phelps and Demi Lovato, Talkspace is fighting back against the stigma of mental health issues while working to bring online therapy into the mainstream culture. Talkspace boasts 24/7 access to psychiatry, couples therapy, and teen therapy through video, messaging, and phone sessions.
Not feeling a connection with your therapist? Talkspace makes it easy to switch to a different licensed therapist within their network. Plans are also available for businesses, health plan providers, and schools.
With a mission of making mental health treatment more accessible, DotCom Therapy specializes in helping children with developmental disabilities like autism and providing entire school districts with mental health services through video-conferencing. Some of the online therapy services include:
- Speech therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Mental health counseling
- School psychology
- Educational audiology
- Case manager services
Two Chairs is a California-based mental health care provider located in the Bay Area. Forced to close down their offices because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Two Chairs worked with their investors from the technology space to create a teletherapy service for patient care during the pandemic.
While only available in California, this mental health app promises a robust patient-therapist matching process within their treatment team to improve the effectiveness of their virtual psychotherapy sessions.
Software and digital health devices used to prevent, manage, or treat medical conditions are considered digital therapeutics. These products have undergone rigorous scientific studies to back up their claims, and some even require a medical prescription for use. Used in combination with inpatient or outpatient treatment plans, digital therapeutics offer an additional level of patient care.
Did you know different types of music can affect your brain differently? The team at Brain.fm worked with scientists and musicians to develop music to promote brain activity geared toward specific user’s goals.
The science behind Brain.fm uses electroencephalography (EEG) and functional MRI (fMRI) data to study the effects of rhythm on electrical activity in the brain. Applying artificial intelligence to the data helped the scientists and musicians work together to develop music designed to stimulate the brain in a targeted manner.
Whether you need to focus, be more creative, reach the perfect meditative state, or clear your mind to get a good night’s sleep, Brain.fm has the music to support you and help improve your general well-being.
A pioneer in prescription digital therapeutics (PDTs), Pear Therapeutics offers two products to aid in outpatient substance abuse recovery and another product to treat chronic insomnia. All three software products are a form of cognitive behavioral therapy.
Used under clinician supervision, the therapist can monitor and track the patient’s progress as they complete the program. PDTs use software to treat disease and are subject to testing and clinical trials similar to those required of prescription drugs.
Stress is known for playing a role in mental and behavioral health, leading to conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity, depression, anxiety, and more. Built by Apollo Neuroscience, the Apollo is a Bluetooth-connected wearable device that promises to help users recover from stress more easily through scientifically proven vibration patterns. While the device doesn’t track your vital signs, the stress reduction resulting from using the Apollo device will likely improve them.
Low frequency sound waves that you can feel, but not hear, are shown to increase heart rate variability (HRV). The time it takes a body to recover from stress is decreased when the HRV is increased. Therefore, maintaining a high HRV through the vibrations of an Apollo device helps users stay focused, get more restful sleep, achieve higher productivity, and reduce anxiety.
Apollo has seven different modes to select from within the mobile app, from “Energy and Wake Up” to “Relax and Unwind.” Each mode supplies the appropriate vibrations for the user’s needs in real time. Worn on your wrist or ankle, the Apollo is intended to provide support throughout the activities of daily living.
Mental Fitness Is Easier Through Mental Health Tech
Whether it’s access or embarrassment, mental health tech is breaking down barriers that keep people from seeking the advice of the mental health professional that can help them. Mental health care professionals are just a click away through digital therapy sessions, available in the privacy of a patient’s home. Mobile apps and wearables are available to ease mental stress through guided meditations, scientifically designed music, or the touch of gentle vibrations.
Digital health technology is one of our specialties at December Labs, and we continue to help our partners bring new health technology to life. Our team was proud to partner with both Apollo Neuroscience and Brain.fm as they broke onto the mental health tech stage. We look forward to continuing to play a part in the development of healthcare technologies, and including those related to mental healthcare.