Last month, Madalyn Parker sent an email to her work explaining that she couldn’t make it into work due to mental health reasons.
Her CEO, Ben Congleton, saw this and took the time to write a very supportive and heartfelt response. He wrote, “You are an example to us all, and help cut through the stigma so we can all bring our whole selves to work”.
Since then the post has gone viral and received over 10,000 retweets. Regardless of reduced stigma in recent years, anxiety and depression are still difficult subjects affecting millions of people worldwide. In the US alone Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults, which is roughly equivalent to 18% of the population.
While some evidence may suggest our infatuation with our mobile phones may be causing anxiety, a growing number of Startups and apps are looking to turn our devices into a force of good, helping to combat these negative emotions. Here are three apps which are aiming to improve your mental health.
Sunrise Health is a new startup looking to improve mental health by providing group therapy integrated with Artificial Intelligence. It combines constant online support through public chat groups, the guidance of professional therapists and the safeguard of AI watching out for abuse and emergencies. An impressive collection of resources for what is clearly a huge task.
Co-founder Shrenik Jain, understands the importance of apps and services like this. As a first responder, he saw many mental health victims die from suicide and overdose. On top of this, he also saw many of his fellow rescue workers struggle with PTSD while refusing to accept help due to stigmatization or fear of being judged.
Initially when users sign up, they select the mental health affliction they’re dealing with from a list of options, such as depression, grief, PTSD and substance abuse. Then a deeper level of assessment takes place by the group’s professional therapist moderator in a one on one chat while completing diagnostic forms. This is then followed by the individual being placed into a support group of around a dozen people.
This San Francisco based company aims to connect it users with qualified therapists while helping to track outcomes over time. The combination of in-person therapy with a mobile app allows patients to provide feedback on a frequent basis which can improve the process for both patients and hospitals.
Kip focuses on evidence-based strategies like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), allowing patients to work towards specific goals and outcomes that can be tracked over time.
In reality, progress very rarely runs smoothly, but by tracking data over time, Kip can help to identify important trends and patterns. “Therapists are professional debuggers of your brain… The more info they have, the more they can talk about and the better they can guide a session,” states Kip co-founder Erin Frey to Techcrunch.
On average, 20 veterans die due to suicide everyday in the US, a rate which is 20 percent higher than the civilian population. Justin Miller, the co-founder of Objective Zero, understands what it is like to suffer from mental health issues as a veteran, as he planned to take his own life until a six hour phone call with a friend saved him. As a result, Miller and his life saving friend, Chris Mercado, decided to make this much needed app for veterans everywhere.
The app, which is currently under development, will connect veterans instantly with other veterans who have received suicide prevention training. The veterans can then communicate via text, phone or video. The nonprofit app will also contain a range of suicide prevention resources for those in need, as well as a chat room to help connect users to a larger support community of other veterans. Furthermore, additional activities will be available through the app such as meditation and mindfulness.
Civilians will also be able to sign up for a military awareness course, enabling veterans to choose to speak with a civilian or fellow veteran.
“We’ve found that civilians want to help veterans, but they don’t know how or don’t know how to ask veterans about their military service,” explains Co-Founder Blake Bassett to Mashable. “Our anecdotal evidence seems to suggest some veterans prefer talking about their problems with a civilian, a surprising finding that speaks to the potential for the role civilians can play in helping reintegrate our veterans after war.”
The app is expected to be released in September 2017, and given the current rate of suicides in the military community, it clear this app is well needed and could have a huge positive impact on the mental health of veterans everywhere.