Healthy Minds Creators Unveil mHealth Resource for College Students

The developers of the Healthy Minds Network at the University of Michigan have unveiled Sage, an mHealth platform designed to give college students on on-demand link to mental health education and resources.

By Eric Wicklund

May 28, 2019 – The creators of an annual national survey assessing mental health among college students are rolling out an mHealth tool aimed at giving them on-demand resources.

The digital health platform, called Sage, is designed to provide online education and support to students identified through the Healthy Minds Network as needing those resources. It was developed by Daniel Eisenberg, PhD, a Professor of Health Management and Policy and a Faculty Associate at the Population Studies Center of the University of Michigan, and Sarah Ketchen Lipson, formerly of the U-M School of Public Health and now at the Boston University School of Public Health.

Eisenberg and Lipson created the Healthy Minds Network in 2007. Since then, the annual Healthy Minds Study has been fielded at more than 180 colleges and universities around the country, with more than 300,000 survey respondents.

“After students complete the Healthy Minds survey, they are invited to click on a link to the Sage site,” Eisenberg said in a recent press release. “There, they are shown a curated list of mental health-related resources. The resource list is tailored based on the students’ characteristics and apparent needs.”

The mobile health tool is one of several mHealth and telehealth projects aimed at giving students on-demand access to mental health resources when and where they need help.

Eisenberg is also participating in a research study launched by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis to analyze the effectiveness of an mHealth platform for treating clinical depression, anxiety and eating disorders.

Funded by a five-year, $3.8 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the study is expected to draw in some 8,000 students from 20 colleges and universities across the country and will use an mHealth platform developed by Boston-based SilverCloud Health, including a mobile health app, to deliver both self-directed and assisted care management tools.

“Not enough services are available to meet the mental health needs of students on college campuses,” lead researcher Denise E. Wilfley, PhD, the Scott Rudolph University Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Washington University Center for Healthy Weight and Wellness, said. “We’ve been in contact with many counseling centers on a number of college campuses, and they tell us that increasing numbers of students are struggling with many more problems, including severe problems, and counselors just can’t see them all. Without timely interventions, these problems can have lasting effects on students’ health, social, educational and economic outcomes.”

That, says Eisenberg, is what Sage aims to do.

“Mental health is clearly one of the most important and challenging issues in college student populations,” he said in the press release. “It’s both a problem and an opportunity: there are lots of ways that campuses can and are addressing student mental health, and our hope is that Sage will join the growing list of effective strategies.”

Eisenberg said the resource was first rolled out on a trial basis to U-M students who completed the Healthy Minds Survey, and about half accessed the tool.

“For example, if a student indicates symptoms of severe depression, the suggested resource list would first display mental health services such as CAPS (U-M’s Counseling and Psychological Services) and a suicide prevention hotline,” he explained. “If a student does not indicate any particular mental health struggles, the list would emphasize general wellness resources such as mindfulness and meditation apps. Students can also indicate on the site which types of resources they would like to browse, such as online versus in-person.”

Eisenberg said the platform is strictly educational at present, but could be enhanced with social tools in the future, such as a feature that displays de-identified user reviews of the resources.

Mental health service uses digital platform to support NHS GP service

A mental health service is using the digital mental health platform developed by SilverCloud Health to support a confidential NHS service for GPs in England.

Efficacy is offering doctors using the GP Health Service access to the SilverCloud platform to improve mental health and related conditions.

The GP Health Service was established in 2013 by Lucy Warner and Dr Clare Gerada, a general practice leader who has just been appointed as co-chair of the NHS Assembly.

It aims to help doctors with mental health issues such as anxiety, stress, lack of sleep or addiction, and uses Efficacy. Efficacy, in turn, is working with SilverCloud so GPs can access their mental health and wellbeing programmes when they need them.

Lee Grant, the founder and clinical director of Efficacy, and a practicing CBT therapist, said: “A busy GP, working 8am to 8pm with a family at home, might not be able to make a face-to-face therapy session. The SilverCloud platform makes it possible for them to access the service; and the great thing is that we have found it to be as effective as one-to-one therapy.

“When we asked one of our patients why that was, they said it was because they could access their programme when they needed to. Therapy is not just what happens ‘in therapy’ but the structure around it; and that is very explicit with SilverCloud.”

Efficacy is a firm of independent CBT psychotherapists that holds contracts with insurers, companies and NHS trusts that use its BABCP-accredited consultants to provide psychological services to staff and patients. It has been shown to have an 87% recovery rate for people who complete therapy with them.

Dr Derek Richards, CSO, SilverCloud Health, said: “The SilverCloud platform was chosen because of its breadth and depth of engaging mental health content programmes and support, and also because of its extensive research and evidence-base.”

Efficacy also provides CBT services for the NHS Practitioner Health Programme, which was set up to support hospital doctors in 2008, and the GP Health Service, which was subsequently set up by the same team to work with GPs and GP trainees.

The GP Health Service refers GPs to Efficacy, which assesses the referrals to determine the most appropriate channel through which to deliver CBT: face to face, over the phone, or online using the SilverCloud platform with the support of a senior accredited therapist.

Lloyd Humphreys, head of Europe for SilverCloud Health, said: “Efficacy is a quite exceptional service that gets remarkable results. It is therefore an achievement that they have decided to use our platform to offer digital programmes to clinicians who need them.

“We all know that the NHS is doing an incredible job, often under enormous pressure in difficult circumstances as highlighted in Pulse’s GP Workload Survey which showed that GPs are working an average of 11 hours per day with them believing they are working beyond their capacity. This can have the consequence of increasing levels of stress experienced making it imperative to support and make sure clinicians are looked after properly.

“Along with a host of other initiatives being delivered by the NHS, Efficacy’s use of the SilverCloud platform will make sure that timely and effective support is provided for doctors using the GP Health Service. The impact of protecting the workforce is wide-ranging and SilverCloud is proud to support any initiative that does just that.”

In the latest NHS Staff Survey, two in five (39.8%) NHS staff in England reported that they felt unwell from the stress of their job in the previous year; the highest figure for five years.

SilverCloud Health partners with Inclusion to tackle alcohol problems through digital therapy

Digital mental health platform SilverCloud Health has formed a partnership with Inclusion, part of the Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and a national provider of mental health and substance misuses services, to develop an online treatment programme for problem drinking.

The NHS Long Term Plan highlights the importance of alcohol and problem drinking. It makes it a national priority to reduce the burden on the NHS, in the form of alcohol-related A&E visits and an increased risk of developing other conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and liver disease.

The plan aims to increase the number of alcohol care teams, to improve the continuity of care, and to create a better interface between NHS, local authority and public health initiatives.

The role of digital therapy is a common theme throughout the NHS Long-Term Plan, and it also highlights the importance of technology-enabled care for people with alcohol issues, particularly in behavioural change.

SilverCloud Health will be adding the Inclusion alcohol programme to its extensive library of more than 30 programmes and modules. Dr Lloyd Humphreys, head of Europe for SilverCloud Health, said:

“Alcohol is a pervasive issue for many with mental health problems and is now receiving attention from the secretary of state for health and social care in the NHS Long Term Plan. This latest addition to our platform will help many people actively address some of the contributing factors to their emotional wellbeing and reduce the delays in receiving evidence-based treatment.”

SilverCloud is the most comprehensive digital therapy platform. It is used by 70% of mental health services in IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies), having treated more than 250,000 people globally.

SilverCloud Health has been singled out by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for its evidence-base and effectiveness. It was awarded the highest grade on its Evaluations Framework for Digital Technologies – Tier 3B – where it was also used as a case study to demonstrate the standards that others should achieve.

It is hoped that this latest programme will reduce the number of people being referred to multiple services due to existing exclusion criteria around drinking and enable them to receive continuity of care through the SilverCloud platform.

Danny Hames, head of Inclusion and sexual health, said:

“Inclusion has developed robust protocols for addressing alcohol problems with service users. Through our face-to-face services, we exceed the national average with regards to successfully treating those with problematic alcohol use.

“We are excited to take these and translate them in to the digital platform provided by SilverCloud. This latest development highlights the cutting-edge service delivery model that Inclusion provides at a national level, and our mission to meet as much need as possible. This programme will be rolled-out to all our services in a phased way.”

Mental health service providers join forces to treat problem drinking

A digital mental health platform has formed a partnership with a national mental health provider and substance misuse services which forms part of the Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to develop a programme to treat problem drinking.

SilverCloud Health and Inclusion will develop an online programme. Part of the NHS Long Term Plan aims to increase the number of alcohol care teams, to improve continuity of care and to create a better interface between NHS, local authority and public health initiatives.

It aims to reduce the burden on the NHS, in the form of alcohol-related A&E visits and an increased risk of developing other conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and liver disease.

Dr Lloyd Humphreys, head of Europe for SilverCloud Health said: “Alcohol is a pervasive issue for many with mental health problems and is now receiving attention from the secretary of state for health and social care in the NHS Long Term Plan. This latest addition to our platform will help many people actively address some of the contributing factors to their emotional wellbeing and reduce the delays in receiving evidence-based treatment.”

The role of digital therapy is a common theme throughout the NHS Long Term Plan, and it also highlights the importance of technology-enabled care for people with alcohol issues, particularly in behavioural change.

SilverCloud Health will be adding the Inclusion alcohol programme to its library of more than 30 programmes and modules.

It is hoped that this latest programme will reduce the number of people being referred to multiple services due to existing exclusion criteria around drinking and enable them to receive continuity of care through the platform.

Danny Hames, head of Inclusion and sexual health, said: “Inclusion has developed robust protocols for addressing alcohol problems with service users. Through our face-to-face services, we exceed the national average with regards to successfully treating those with problematic alcohol use.

“We are excited to take these and translate them in to the digital platform provided by SilverCloud. This latest development highlights the cutting-edge service delivery model that Inclusion provides at a national level, and our mission to meet as much need as possible. This programme will be rolled-out to all our services in a phased way.”

SilverCloud Health’s Digital Mental Health Platform Selected for NIMH & Washington University Research Study

Washington University School of Medicine to Evaluate the Effectiveness of Digital Therapeutics in Treating College Students’ Clinical Depression, Anxiety and Eating Disorders

BOSTON, March 25, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — SilverCloud Health, a global provider of clinically validated digital mental healthcare solutions for health systems and payers, announced today a national research partnership with the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. As part of the collaboration, SilverCloud Health will deliver a digital therapeutic solution for use in clinical interventions for the treatment of depression, anxiety and eating disorders. The clinical study will evaluate the effectiveness of digital interventions in treating these common mental and behavioral health issues among college students. 

The study is critical to expanding access to vital mental health resources for an increasingly underserved population. A 2017 American College Health Association Survey of 63,000 college students at 92 schools found that two in five described themselves as being so depressed that they “struggled to function.” Three in five reported feeling “overwhelming anxiety” during the previous year. According to the survey, from 2009 to 2015, the number of college students visiting counseling centers also increased by 30 percent. SilverCloud Health is defining a new healthcare model to meet the demands of the rapidly growing mental and behavioral healthcare market, offering a comprehensive library of 30+ customizable evidenced-based online programs that address a broad spectrum of conditions such as stress, depression and anxiety. 

For the college and university population specifically, the company’s digital mental health platform provides students with easier and earlier access to mental healthcare and support, bridging existing gaps in their mental health offerings. The SilverCloud Health platform offers both self-directed and supporter-assisted care pathways to deliver programs, content and tools to meet the needs of each individual user. The company tightly integrates its approach with student counseling centers to ensure that students receive the right care, at the right time, in the right setting, which contributes to an improved experience, with lower costs and better outcomes.

“College and university students nationally are experiencing increasing levels of anxiety and mental health challenges, making the need for easy, accessible tools and resources for managing and effectively treating these conditions a top priority for schools of all shapes and sizes,” said Ken Cahill, CEO of SilverCloud Health. “SilverCloud Health is honored to be collaborating with the Washington University School of Medicine as the digital therapeutics partner for this research initiative.”

For the purposes of this research study, a team led by Denise E. Wilfley, PhD, Scott Rudolph University Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Washington University Center for Healthy Weight and Wellness, received a five-year, $3.8 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the lead federal agency for research on mental disorders. Researchers C. Barr Taylor, Research Professor, Palo Alto University and Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and Michelle Newman, Professor of Psychology at Penn State, plan to identify students dealing with clinical depression, anxiety and eating disorders from a pool of roughly 150,000 students at 20 colleges, universities and community colleges.

Students participating in the Washington University School of Medicine research will receive an e-mail from their school’s registrar’s office, inviting them to take a survey. When the survey is completed, the research team will identify the students as having or being at high risk for depression, anxiety or an eating disorder. Half of those students will then randomly be offered the mobile app while the rest will be referred to standardized counseling. If it’s found that a surveyed student’s problems are too advanced, he or she will be referred to more immediate help. 

Find out more about the Washington University School of Medicine project and partners via News Hub. Visit SilverCloudHealth.com to see how the company is revolutionizing mental healthcare delivery and access. Currently, the platform is supporting more than 240 organizations across its global customer base, delivering a suite of over 30 evidence-based online programs—with 65% of users showing a clinically significant reduction in symptom scores.

Attending NatCon19 March 25-27, 2019? Come meet the SilverCloud Health team at booth#253. Interested in scheduling a demo? Please visit: https://bit.ly/2U7xwIO

About SilverCloud Health            

SilverCloud Health is a multi-award-winning global health tech company; since launching in 2012 it has gone on to support 240 organizations across its global customer base, delivering a suite of over 30 clinically effective online programs with 65% of users showing a clinically significant reduction in symptom scores. Today, SilverCloud Health’s extensive library of evidence-based programs address a broad spectrum of conditions such as stress, depression and anxiety as well as specific programs for long-term chronic conditions (diabetes, COPD, and chronic pain). Over 16 years of academic research and clinically led randomized controlled trials (RCT) demonstrate SilverCloud Health programs are extremely effective, engaging for patients and provide positive outcomes on a par with face-to-face therapy.

About the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis

Washington University School of Medicine‘s 1,500 faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is a leader in medical research, teaching and patient care, ranking among the top 10 medical schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.

SOURCE SilverCloud Health

Related Links

https://www.silvercloudhealth.com

Mobile phone technology to screen, help treat college students

Jim Dryden, Director of Broadcast & Podcasts

Jim Dryden covers psychiatry and neuroscience, orthopedics, diabetes, obesity and nutrition. He has a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

With a growing demand for mental health services at colleges, a research team led by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has received a $3.8 million grant to test a mental health phone app to treat depression, anxiety and eating disorders in a study involving some 8,000 students at 20 colleges, universities and community colleges.

A research team led by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has received a five-year, $3.8 million grant to evaluate the use of smartphones in treating psychiatric problems that are common among college students.

“Not enough services are available to meet the mental health needs of students on college campuses,” said principal investigator Denise E. Wilfley, PhD, the Scott Rudolph University Professor of Psychiatry and director of the Washington University Center for Healthy Weight and Wellness. “We’ve been in contact with many counseling centers on a number of college campuses, and they tell us that increasing numbers of students are struggling with many more problems, including severe problems, and counselors just can’t see them all. Without timely interventions, these problems can have lasting effects on students’ health, social, educational and economic outcomes.”

From a pool of about 150,000 students at 20 colleges, universities and community colleges, the researchers plan to identify students dealing with clinical depression, anxiety and eating disorders, or at high risk for the onset of these problems. They expect to find about 8,000 such students willing to participate in the study. Those students will be placed randomly into one of two treatment groups. One group will be referred to college counseling centers for treatment, and the other will be asked to use a mobile phone app for help.

Wilfley’s team recently concluded a study of mobile and web-based treatments for eating disorders. That study involved almost 700 women at 28 colleges. The new grant, from the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), expands the effort to include students of both sexes and adds to the mix depression and anxiety, which are on the rise on college campuses.

A 2017 American College Health Association Survey of 63,000 college students at 92 schools found that two in five described being so depressed that they “struggled to function.” Three in five reported feeling “overwhelming anxiety” during the previous year.

From 2009 through 2015, the number of college students visiting counseling centers increased by 30 percent, according to the survey. During those same years, college enrollment grew by less than 6 percent.

“We’re finishing our analysis of using mobile technology to treat eating disorders, and the preliminary data look promising,” said Ellen E. Fitzsimmons-Craft, PhD, an assistant professor of psychiatry who is collaborating with Wilfley. “Mobile apps help get around the stigma of seeking help at a counseling center. They also help work around scheduling issues so that students can use the app when they have the time, even in the middle of the night.”

Students in the new study will receive an e-mail from their school’s registrar’s office, inviting them to take a survey. When the brief survey is completed, some students will be identified as having — or at high risk for — depression, anxiety or an eating disorder. Half of those students randomly will be offered the mobile app, which has been designed to address not only a student’s primary mental health concerns but to personalize treatment by helping to address other problems that may occur with depression, anxiety or an eating disorder. Meanwhile, the rest will be referred to standard counseling. If a student’s problems are too advanced, however, he or she will be referred to more immediate help.

“For example, if a student screens positive for anorexia nervosa and has a very low weight and other medical issues, that student won’t be eligible for the study,” Fitzsimmons-Craft explained. “That individual immediately will receive a message recommending a visit to the counseling center because that student may need more intensive treatment than our app provides.”

Other principal investigators involved in the new study are Michelle G. Newman, PhD, a professor of psychology at Pennsylvania State University; C. Barr Taylor, MD, an emeritus professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford and a research professor at Palo Alto University; and Daniel Eisenberg, PhD, the S.J. Axelrod Collegiate Professor of Health Management and Policy at the University of Michigan. Eisenberg manages the Healthy Minds Network, an online, mental health-screening tool used on more than 200 college campuses.

The mobile app intervention will be hosted by SilverCloud, a company that specializes in using mobile technology for mental health problems.

Q. How well does web-based psychotherapy work?

The Health Reporter Is In, Jan. 31, 2019

Thu, 01/31/2019 – 7:00am | Debra Pressey

A: Therapy you can access through your laptop or phone has its advantages — and disadvantages.

On the upside, it can be more convenient than going to a therapist’s office and can be done at your own pace.

It can also boost access to help for those feeling inhibited about seeking in-person therapy, or for those who face such barriers to care as cost.

Among the cons is not everyone is going to feel comfortable with web-based therapy. And it’s definitely not intended for serious mental-health conditions, such as uncontrolled bipolar disorder, or for anyone in crisis.

One option to investigate is SilverCloud, which OSF HealthCare is offering free to adults 18 and older who live in the service areas of its hospitals.

SilverCloud is described as secure, online-supported cognitive-behavioral-therapy programs that are customized to individual needs. Cognitive behavioral therapy aims to challenge and modify negative thoughts and perceptions that affect behavior.

Here’s how SilverCloud works: Patients initially fill out clinical questionnaires for depression and anxiety screening, according to LUKE RAYMOND, OSF HealthCare’s manager of behavioral health.

Users who sign up have access for a year, but generally complete modules over about eight to 10 weeks and answer questions after each one.

OSF has a network of behavioral-health supporters spread out geographically who help users navigate the system and respond to content (such as activities and goals for the week) that users share.

Research done by the University of Zurich looked at the effectiveness of online cognitive behavioral therapy as opposed to in-person therapy in 62 patients with moderate depression.

The researchers found the rate of depression fell about the same in both the online and in-person groups, and the rate of satisfaction with the treatment and therapists was equally high.

OSF began offering SilverCloud in 2017, and last year began making it available on an open enrollment basis — meaning access isn’t controlled by the patient’s physician or therapist, Raymond said.

“Our clinical outcomes have been fairly comparable to what someone would experience with face-to-face therapy,” he said.

Ideal candidates for such programs as SilverCloud aren’t in acute distress or suffering from a major mental illness, have a certain comfort level working with an online support tool and have at least a sixth-grade reading-comprehension level, Raymond said.

Two more things to know about SilverCloud: It’s anonymous to all but your OSF behavioral-health supporter, who will know your identity. And, depending on your individual need, you may still require the help of an in-person clinician.

Source: http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2019-01-31/the-health-reporter-jan-31-2019.html

Tackling The Mental Health Epidemic With Telehealth

One in five Americans suffers from mental illness, yet only 44 percent receive treatment. Why? People with behavioral health problems face a growing number of obstacles that prevent them from receiving the care they need – from provider shortages to finances the mere unwillingness to seek treatment due to stigma. With telehealth, primary care physicians – nearly half of which treat mental health conditions – now have another viable option: online cognitive behavioral therapy, or iCBT. In fact, 75 percent of healthcare executives believe telemedicine has the potential to transform the standard of care for behavioral health and psychiatry.

iCBT is the use of cognitive and behavioral techniques that are typically used in face-to-face therapy for treating mental health issues. The online version is composed of education, skills training, activities and exercises to promote the application of new knowledge and coping skills. It does this through structured modules of content that are delivered using text, pictures, animations, audio files and videos – all of which can be done anytime, from the comfort and privacy of the patient’s own home.

Here’s why iCBT is fundamentally changing how we treat mental health:

  • Combats Provider Shortage

The U.S. is facing a growing shortage of clinicians – particularly in rural areas, where the majority of American’s live. Some states, such as Alabama, have a 1 to 260 clinician-to-patient ratio. Lengthy wait times – even in major cities – also pose as a significant challenge. Patients in Boston, for example, have to wait up to 66 days on average to see a doctor for a traditional in-clinic visit. To adequately address demand, at least 5.9K more mental health professionals are needed in the U.S.

For patients – especially those in need of immediate treatment, iCBT eliminates wait times for a face-to face appointment, granting immediate access to care. Further, numerous clinical studies have shown online therapy solutions to be equally effective as face-to-face interventions.

  • Breaks Down Barriers To Access

Patients who cannot access standard healthcare services – whether they suffer from other heath conditions and are prohibited from travel or don’t have access to transportation – can access iCBT anytime, from any location. From a provider’s perspective, the ability to enroll patients’ immediately and identify a need rather than having them call or schedule an appointment, also promotes continuity of care and increases clinical workflow. Additionally, studies have shown that individuals leveraging web-based therapy are more likely to remain engaged in face-to-face therapies when online treatments are used as a supplement.

  • Takes Stigma Out Of The Equation

For many individuals, sharing intimate feelings with a stranger makes them incredibly uncomfortable. While younger generations are typically more open to face-to-face therapeutic interventions, for many, including those in the Baby Boomer generation, there is a stigma attached to mental health and a desire to keep problems private.

It was nearly 20 years ago when the U.S. Surgeon General labeled stigma as “perhaps the biggest barrier to mental healthcare.” Further, according to a survey of nearly 600 adults over the age of 60 in rural North Carolina who were asked why they didn’t seek mental health treatment for their conditions – the majority responded, “I should not need help.”

Privacy issues are also a concern for people wanting or needing to seek treatment for mental health. In rural communities, for example, residents may actually know the behavioral healthcare specialist personally – if the community is even lucky enough to have one. In larger communities, patients might be hesitant to share personal information that makes them vulnerable to a stranger or question whether the practitioner abides by HIPAA standards.

While as a society we still have a long way to go in terms of eliminating the stigma associated with mental illness, iCBT can be a more appealing option for those individuals too embarrassed to seek treatment.

  • Less Expensive For Patients, Providers And Payers 

In the treatment of mild to moderate mental health conditions, iCBT platforms demonstrate the ability to offer services to six times as many patients than other care models, while generating the same outcomes. This has allowed healthcare providers to offer iCBT programs across their entire population, while minimizing valuable resources and better enabling hospitals to triage patients.

For patients, online therapy also offers a less expensive option than in-person therapy. Typically, iCBT is a low-intensity intervention where patients can move through the online content at a self-administered pace, reducing the amount of clinical support time required. In addition to the cost of a face-to-face therapy session, iCBT eliminates the need for patients to take time off from work during business hours, as well as the drive time to and from a specialists’ office.

Eventually, online therapy can help ease the strain put on emergency services for the treatment of behavioral health, which all too often serves as the first line of care for patients without insurance.

  • Scalable Solutions Easily Integrate Into Existing Healthcare Systems

iCBT allows providers and payers to offer scalable solutions that have a high degree of efficacy. There are numerous online therapy solutions that can be customized to meet the individual needs of health systems and their populations, with the ability to easily integrate with existing technologies. These solutions can be used throughout the care pathway and enhance the patient-doctor experience and results. Developers of iCBT solutions have made the integration simple and user experience intuitive to help promote adoption and effective results.

Widespread adoption of web enabled devices web and cellular coverage, internet-based programs transcend geography, reaching any web-enabled device, anywhere. Whether someone lives in a skyscraper or on a farm, where doctors are plentiful or scarce, help for mental illness is readily accessible. iCBT offers clinically validated, easy to integrate, scalable solutions to health systems to address the waiting lists and access issues at the core of behavioral health delivery across the U.S.

About The Author

Derek Richards, Ph.D., is the Chief Science Officer at SilverCloud Health, which provides evidence-based online mental health and behavioral healthcare solutions.

Top 5 reasons online cognitive behavioral therapies are the future of mental health

While telehealth isn’t a new concept, it’s increasingly becoming a more popular option for delivering behavioral healthcare services.

In fact, 75 percent of healthcare executives believe telemedicine has the potential to transform the standard of care for behavioral health and psychiatry.

The advancement of this accessible technology could not have come at a better time. People with behavioral health problems face a growing number of daunting obstacles that prevent them from receiving the effective care they need – from finances to clinician shortages to the mere unwillingness to seek treatment due to stigma. With telehealth, primary care physicians – nearly half of which treat mental health conditions – now have another viable option: online cognitive behavioral therapy, or iCBT.

iCBT is the use of cognitive and behavioral techniques that are typically used in face-to-face therapy for treating mental health issues. The online version is composed of education, skills training, activities and exercises to promote the application of new knowledge and coping skills. It does this through structured modules of content that are delivered using text, pictures, animations, audio files and videos – all of which can be done anytime, from the comfort and privacy of the patient’s own home.

Here’s five reasons why online cognitive behavioral therapies are the future of mental health:

1. Ease of access
Patients who cannot access standard healthcare services – whether they suffer from other heath conditions and are prohibited from travel or don’t have access to transportation – can access iCBT anytime, from any location. From a provider’s perspective, the ability to enroll patients’ immediately and identify a need rather than having them call or schedule an appointment, also promotes continuity of care and increases clinical workflow. Additionally, studies have shown that individuals leveraging web-based therapy are more likely to remain engaged in face-to-face therapies when online treatments are used as a supplement.

2. Alleviates stigma and privacy concerns
For many individuals, sharing intimate feelings with a stranger makes them incredibly uncomfortable. While younger generations are typically more open to face-to-face therapeutic interventions, for many, including those in the Baby Boomer generation, there is a stigma attached to mental health and a desire to keep problems private.

It was nearly 20 years ago when the U.S. Surgeon Generallabeled stigma as “perhaps the biggest barrier to mental health care.” Further, according to a surveyof nearly 600 adults over the age of 60 in rural North Carolina who were asked why they didn’t seek mental health treatment for their conditions – the majority responded, “I should not need help.”

Privacy issues are also a concern for people wanting or needing to seek treatment for mental health. In rural communities, for example, residents may actually know the behavioral healthcare specialist personally – if the community is even lucky enough to have one. In larger communities, patients might be hesitant to share personal information that makes them vulnerable to a stranger or question whether the practitioner abides by HIPAA standards.

While as a society we still have a long way to go in terms of eliminating the stigma associated with mental illness, iCBT can be a more appealing option for those individuals too embarrassed to seek treatment.

3. Lower cost of care for providers, payers and patients
In the treatment of mild to moderate mental health conditions, iCBT platforms demonstrate the ability to offer services to six times as many patients than other care models, while generating the same outcomes. This has allowed healthcare providers to offer iCBT programs across their entire population, while minimizing valuable resources and better enabling hospitals to triage patients.

For patients, online therapy also offers a less expensive option than in-person therapy. Typically, iCBT is a low-intensity intervention where patients can move through the online content at a self-administered pace, reducing the amount of clinical support time required. In addition to the cost of a face-to-face therapy session, iCBT eliminates the need for patients to take time off from work during business hours, as well as the drive time to and from a specialists’ office.

Eventually, online therapy can help ease the strain put on emergency services for the treatment of behavioral health, which all too often serves as the first line of care for patients without insurance.

4. Addressing the clinician shortage
Fifty six percent of American adults with a mental illness do not receive treatment and a nationwide clinician shortage is a key part of the problem – particularly in rural areas, where the majority of American’s live. Some states, such as Alabama, have a 1 to 260 clinician-to-patient ratio. Lengthy wait times – even in major cities – also pose as a significant challenge. Patients in Boston, for example, have to wait up to 66 days on average to see a doctor for a traditional in-clinic visit. To adequately address demand, at least 5.9Kmore mental health professionals are needed in the U.S.

For patients – especially those in need of immediate treatment, iCBT eliminates wait times for a face-to face appointment, granting immediate access to care. Further, numerous clinical studies have shown online therapy solutions to be equally effective as face-to-face interventions.

5. New care models are scalable and easily integrate into existing healthcare systems
iCBT allows providers and payers to offer scalable solutions that have a high degree of efficacy. There are numerous online therapy solutions that can be customized to meet the individual needs of health systems and their populations, with the ability to easily integrate with existing technologies. These solutions can be used throughout the care pathway and enhance the patient-doctor experience and results. Developers of iCBT solutions have made the integration simple and user experience intuitive to help promote adoption and effective results.

In an age of widespread web and cellular coverage, internet-based programs transcend geography, reaching any web-enabled device, anywhere. Whether someone lives in a skyscraper or on a farm, where doctors are plentiful or scarce, help for mental illness is readily accessible. iCBT offers clinically validated, easy to integrate, scalable solutions to health systems to address the waiting lists and access issues at the core of behavioral health delivery across the U.S.

Student Loan Debt Negatively Impacts Mental Health, Notes Ameritech Financial

Nearly two out of three 18- to 24-year-olds worry each month about paying their bills and, of those, more than 80 percent said it negatively impacted their mental health. Recently, global online health firm SilverCloud studied nearly 2,000 participants and found that money worries about debt and their financial future caused anxiety and hopelessness. Among factors driving these anxieties are college students who are food and housing insecure and those who have accumulated student loan debt. It is no wonder that, with more than 44 million Americans owning more than $1.5 trillion, so many are experiencing poor mental health outcomes. Ameritech Financial, a document preparation company, assists those overwhelmed by student loan debt in finding, applying for and maintaining enrollment in federal programs, such as income-driven repayment plans (IDRs) that can possibly reduce monthly payments, hopefully reducing anxiety and better-allowing clients to focus on their lives, not just their finances.

“Our young people are facing financial challenges right now and it makes sense that their mental health suffers,” said Tom Knickerbocker, executive vice president of Ameritech Financial. “We can help those struggling with student loan debt find the right federal program, such as an IDR, based on income and family size, that might lower their monthly payment enough to improve their financial and mental health.”

Nearly 84 percent of those with money worries said their debt and financial problems had caused them anxiety about their future. Many of these also said they experienced low moods or feelings of hopelessness. The average college student now spends more time at work than in the classroom. These financial pressures reduce leisure time and recreational opportunities as students pick up more hours to try to stay afloat in college. Under these types of stresses, mental health declines are both alarming and predictable.

Of those interviewed, 71 percent believed that people who are suffering from poor mental health are less able to manage their financial challenges. Unfortunately, this means that those who are under financial stress have poorer mental health outcomes. These individuals then have a more difficult time managing their financial challenges. This self-perpetuating spiral of despair can be debilitating. Fortunately, there are more mental health options available, especially online behavioral health companies. There are also options available to those overburdened by student loan debt. Ameritech Financial expertly guides clients through what some feel is an overly complex process of securing the right IDR that might even end in forgiveness after 20 or 25 years of enrollment.

“Unfortunately, we can’t directly help those with mental health issues,” said Knickerbocker. “But we may be able to help with one of the underlying financial conditions that may drive mental health issues — student loan debt.”