ADOLESCENTS

Recapping the news from companies that provide behavioral health care for adolescents.

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ADOLESCENTS
B2B
Sep 13, 2022
4 min. read

Part II: Off to College? Let Tech Help

Six tech companies that can help navigate the college experience – a follow-up to Part I.
China Campbell

Increasingly demanding, stressful, and overwhelming. These terms are usually used in conjunction with college students expressing their emotions and feeling associated with college life. In addition to Part I of student resources, here are six tech companies that can help navigate the college experience. 

BetterMynd

BetterMynd is a social impact startup that provides access to mental health services for America’s 20 million college students. They serve over 50 college campuses nationwide to supplement mental health and well-being. Through a network of providers and the power of teletherapy, BetterMynd is empowering college students to get the mental health care they need. Students can sign up for an account through their college’s unique BetterMynd portal.

The Zone

The Zone provides a personalized wellness platform designed for athletes’ mental health. You can be proactive with a state-of-the-art mental wellness platform that integrates perfectly into your organization’s wellness program. Their access to support makes reaching out for help more accessible and streamlined than ever before. The Zone provides an accessible and scalable platform for anyone wishing to improve their well-being.

PursueCare

PursueCare welcomes those in need of support and will always meet them where they are in the process. They treat a broad population group ranging from people with opioid, alcohol, or other substance use disorders, pregnant women needing addiction treatment, and those who have relapsed. They also offer complete psychiatric treatment and counseling/therapy for people with mental health issues. PursueCare has partnered with ChristianaCare to provide virtual mental health solutions to participating college campuses. Participating students can access ChristianaCare’s internal and family medicine providers and PursueCare’s mental health, psychiatric, and medication-assisted treatment providers through a single digital portal.

Pen, paper, and a textbook.


META

META provides the mental health support students need when they need it to improve engagement and retention. Students can choose from a diverse provider network. Monthly reporting helps to predict student needs, track outcomes, and gauge impact. META is trusted at 170 college campuses.

MindSpark

MindSpark programs deliver extraordinary professional learning experiences for educators, the community, and industry partners who take their new skills back to the classroom and beyond. They cultivate whole-person growth and sustained organizational outcomes through the world’s most extensive, customized, and extraordinary professional learning experiences. MindSpark aims to help leaders confront fundamental challenges and foster transformational progress by embedding key practices and strategies within your school. They draw on the expertise of impassioned researchers and practitioners such as former educators and industry leaders to solve critical issues around educator retention, cultural evolution, and school re-design.

Ocelot

Using AI Communications, including two-way texting, AI chatbots, and live chat, every student gets the answers they need and deserve, so no student is left behind. Ocelot’s comprehensive, AI-powered SaaS platform enables colleges and universities to proactively and reactively reach students and guide them through all aspects of the student journey to increase access, enrollment, retention, and wellness.

ADOLESCENTS
Sep 6, 2022
6 min. read

Back to School: Understanding the Latest in Teen Mental Health Lingo

Heading back to school can be difficult for everyone. How can parents know they have the best information necessary to keep their kids safe? ‍
China Campbell

Heading back to school can be difficult for everyone. No one is exempt from the first day of school jitters, whether this is your first day of school or your 14th first day. There are many problems that can arise with a new school year. How can parents know they have the best information necessary to keep their kids safe? 

Background

School brings on immense stressors for teens. Different factors play into this, many of which have gradually increased over the last decade. While this age of technology has had a positive impact on our daily lives, it also has had a significantly negative impact on our mental health when used in harmful ways. 

In the past, school brought face-to-face stressors like homework, school sports, activity clubs, tests, and the hierarchy of popularity that usually exists amongst teens in school. While these can have little to do with how teens function outside of their school life, when there is no barrier between the sets of stressors, life can become challenging. 

Social media is a powerful tool used in the ways teens interact and connect with others. It becomes difficult for them to realize that social media is not the real world. While there are real-world aspects to it, for example, breaking news, or communication with friends, family, coaches, and bosses, much of what is posted and seen on these platforms can be deceiving. 

Body image issues, eating disorders, low self-esteem, and interpersonal connection issues can all be brought on by the negative connotations of social media. Cyberbullying seems to be the most significant playing factor in having to be connected to the digital world at all times. When teens cannot physically get away from their bullying peers, since they always have access to social media, bullying follows them everywhere they go. It's right there, on their phones and devices at all times. Those hurtful words are written for all to see. 

Parents Impact

With so much going on in the digital world, it can be challenging for parents to know when to step in. As parents, we are always trying to fix our children's problems. We want the best for them, and we try to show them we care. This can be challenging when we can't see everything on social media or what they view in other forms of content. It can be especially harmful when we do not know that different sayings and terms mean different things. For example, a term has been going around where teens are discussing a "back-to-school necklace." Now instinctively, as a parent, we may think that this means some physical necklace that teens purchase to wear. Did you know that this is actually referring to a noose? To some kids, the fears and stressors that this back-to-school time frame brings up creates this false sense that suicide is something to be joked about. For others, the fears and feelings of suicide may not be just a joke. Some teens may actually be contemplating suicide when discussing this term. Suicide can become a lingering thought for those who just don't want to deal with life's problems anymore. This kind of thinking is unsafe for anyone, but especially for such a young and impressionable age group.  

It isn't easy to stay on top of every new term that is out there. The world of illegal drugs always seems to have some new term or saying, which just adds another layer of stress for parents to worry about. The important thing here is to remember that if we can better connect with our teens and build a trustful and meaningful relationship with them, there is a better chance that they will be willing to talk to you or at least listen when you are trying to give them advice. While this is no perfect recipe to keep our kids safe, positive communication and a positive connection with our kids can at least help them prepare for the world around them. 

The world can be a scary place. It is much scarier when you cannot escape hurtful words, images, and threats. Talk to your teens. Be there for your kids. The best way to prevent the parent and teen divide is to be open to them. Bring up the new lingo if you hear about it. Facing the uncomfortable world can become a little easier when facing them together. 

ADOLESCENTS
Sep 1, 2022
9 min. read

How Equitable, On-Demand Access to Care Improves the Health and Well-being of College Students

The top concern of college students is not academics, inflation or even mass shootings – it’s their own mental health. 
Becky Laman

The top concern of college students is not academics, inflation or even mass shootings – it’s their own mental health. 

In a recent nationwide survey of nearly 1,200 college students by TimelyMD, the leading health and well-being provider in higher education, nearly seven out of 10 students (69%) reported experiencing mental health issues such as stress, anxiety or depression. The overwhelming majority (86%) said their current level of stress and/or anxiety is the same as or greater than this time last year.

Between nationwide provider shortages and long wait times for appointments that put both students and schools at risk, college and university leaders recognize they can no longer meet all of a student’s health and well-being needs on campus. In a recent survey by The Chronicle of Higher Education and P3·EDU, college administrators said telehealth/mental health services are the No. 1 thing they are interested in outsourcing. As campus leaders seek solutions that improve student well-being, engagement, and retention, they turn to TimelyMD more than anyone else to help their students be well and thrive. 

How can college students benefit from mental health support?

The number one reason students leave college is for mental health reasons. According to a recent report from Gallup and The Lumina Foundation, three-fourths of students in bachelor's programs and two-thirds of adults seeking associate degrees who considered taking a break from college last fall cited emotional stress.

Founded in 2017, TimelyMD is the only virtual health and well-being provider focused exclusively on higher education that is trusted to serve more than a million students at more than 200 colleges and universities nationwide. Demand has surged ever since, and especially in the years since the pandemic. 

“If mental health was a fire, COVID was the gasoline…however, COVID is no longer the primary accelerant,” Dr. Rufus Tony Spann, Executive Director of Mental Health at TimelyMD, recently told Diverse Issues in Higher Education

In fact, nine out of 10 students say their campus is experiencing a full-blown mental health crisis. TimelyMD delivers high-quality care and peace of mind by increasing convenience, staff capacity, and provider diversity and eliminating barriers such as insurance, co-pays, and long wait times – and demand among students has never been greater. About 80% of TimelyCare visits have been for mental health support this year (vs. 10% pre-pandemic). 

Ultimately, a team-based approach to care is most effective in helping students’ mental health. While the top three reasons students seek mental health support through TimelyCare are anxiety, general stress, and depression, TimelyMD providers also treat suicidal students every day in accordance with established campus protocols that outline effective care coordination, local resources, care follow-up requirements, and triage processes. Through shared care summaries, EMR integrations, and referrals, TimelyMD ensures each student gets the right care when and where they need it.

Tell us more about how TimelyCare services are expanding access for college students. 

TimelyCare saves lives and improves student health by eliminating barriers and ensuring equitable, on-demand access to care – anytime, anywhere, free and fast. As a result, students have access to: 

  • Convenient 24/7 care – Physical and mental health issues often present themselves outside regular business hours, and TimelyCare makes seeking support or treatment as easy and convenient as making a video or phone call. More than 40% of mental health visits occurred after regular business hours, underscoring the need for on-demand support. 
  • No-cost visits – An urgent care visit may cost around $150, and an ER visit for preventable primary care conditions may cost upwards of $2,000. Students never need health insurance, and they never incur costs for a TimelyCare provider visit.
  • Reduced wait times – Campus counseling centers often have a 2-3 week wait time for appointments, whereas students using TalkNow can typically connect with a TimelyMD provider in less than 5 minutes.
  • Diverse provider network – In addition to being from diverse backgrounds, TimelyMD providers are trained to be culturally competent. For example, more than 60% of mental health providers identify as BIPOC. The platform also offers professionals who identify as LGBTQIA+, speak multiple languages, and/or have various religious and spiritual beliefs. Students can choose to meet with a specific provider or select the first available. 
  • Peace of mind – TimelyCare is a safe, secure, and HIPAA-compliant platform that follows campus-specific protocols to facilitate care coordination and follow-up to ensure continuity of care. Integrations with leading learning management systems ensure students have what University Business called “a groundbreaking way to get students connected to care.”

How will TimelyMD continue to innovate to meet students’ evolving needs?

Inc. Magazine listed TimelyMD among the 10 fastest-growing health services companies in the country –  recognition that validates the ongoing urgency of the company’s mission to improve college students’ physical and mental health through virtual care. Every decision the company makes is guided by its core values of passionate people, accountability, innovation, growth, quality of service, and positive impact.  

“The key to our success is a laser-like focus on helping students be well and thrive. We are immensely grateful for the college and university leaders who trust us to care for their campuses and our team that makes exceptional care a reality,” said Luke Hejl, TimelyMD CEO and co-founder. “We don’t just want students to feel better, we want them to be well. TimelyCare allows colleges and universities to solve problems rather than just treat symptoms.”

The TimelyCare platform includes a range of services, including mental health counseling, on-demand emotional support, medical care, psychiatric care, health coaching, basic needs assistance, faculty and staff guidance, and digital self-care content. 

This fall, TimelyMD is adding a new peer support community to the TimelyCare platform to empower students to safely connect with and encourage each other. According to a recent survey, peer support tops the list of ways students plan to cope with their stress and anxiety this semester, and TimelyMD designed this judgment-free space with safety and security in mind. As EdScoop recently reported: “Students can’t contact each other directly, and their identities are anonymized so that only their initials are displayed on profiles. Identifying information in posts is also be flagged and removed by TimelyMD’s AI or content moderators.”

Considering the nation’s economic future and global competitiveness are directly linked to the health and well-being of college students today, a partnership with TimelyMD has proven to be an investment in healthier students.

“Whether we’re treating one student or one million students, the need for 24/7 access to high-quality care has never been more important or a higher priority,” said Dr. Bob Booth, Chief Care Officer at TimelyMD. “Through the combination of equitable access to care, best-in-class clinical providers, and preventative self-care strategies, TimelyMD is changing the culture of  sick-care into a model of virtual health care that has a lasting impact, one student at a time.”

ADOLESCENTS
Aug 18, 2022
3 min. read

Part I: Off to College? Let Tech Help

Luckily, with the combination of digital tech and some impressive state-of-the-art ideas, mental health care is now at the fingertips of college students, anywhere and anytime they need it. Here are 6 digital tech options to help college students' mental health.
China Campbell

Going off to college can be a daunting task. It can bring up many emotions and different kinds of stress and change how to handle your daily life. These new stressors can take an immense toll on your mental health. Luckily, with the combination of digital tech and some impressive state-of-the-art ideas, mental health care is now at the fingertips of college students, anywhere and anytime they need it.

Mantra Health

Mantra Health is a leading mental health provider for university students. The clinically-guided mental health solution works directly with colleges and universities to adapt their program to each school's specific situation. 

Togetherall

Togetherall is a safe, online community where you can share your feelings anonymously and get support to improve your mental health and wellbeing. Registered mental health practitioners safely monitor the online community. Togetherall is free to students at participating universities and colleges across the United States. 

TimelyMD

TimelyMD is the leading virtual health and well-being solution for higher education. Its mission is to improve the well-being of college students by making virtual medical and mental health care accessible anytime, anywhere. TimelyMD’s virtual care platform, TimelyCare, includes a range of services, including mental health counseling, on-demand emotional support, medical care, psychiatric care, health coaching, basic needs assistance, faculty and staff guidance, digital self-care content and peer support.

Talkspace

Talkspace provides safe, quick, and easy access to mental health care. The app offers a platform for accessing therapy, medication, assessment, healthy living support, and self-help tools. With immediate and responsive support, Talkspace has providers and care options that can fit any schedule. 

YOU at College

YOU at College strives to comprehensively support the success of students, faculty, and staff in higher education with tools focused on personalizing wellbeing, promoting self-care and resilience, and connecting students to their campuses. The YOU platform provides upstream care to every student from enrollment to graduation. 

Caraway 

Caraway is a digital health company committed to taking on the societal and medical imperative of caring for college women+. They prioritize the needs and concerns of college women+ during a challenging time in their lives. Their virtual care is available 24/7, so women+ can get the care they need. 

ADOLESCENTS
Aug 16, 2022
5 min. read

Could Technology Be Benefiting Youths Mental Health? 8 Mental Health Experts Weigh in

We know youth function well in the digital age. How can we use this to a mental health advantage to better reach this group?
China Campbell

When we think about mental health, we often think about having to travel to a doctor’s office in order to receive care. This may not be the best option for everyone. We know that there is a group of people who function well in the digital age: youth. How can we use this to a mental health advantage to better reach this group? Here is what eight mental health experts say regarding tech and youth. 

Brightline

Haleigh Tebben is the Chief Commercial Officer of Brightline, which is the first and only national comprehensive pediatric health solution. They support kids and teens, a year and a half old to 18 years old, as well as their families. They use a digital platform that utilizes a comprehensive model that includes self-directed tools, resources, and content, as well as one-on-one virtual behavioral health coaching that focuses on skill building. Their focus is on quality and outcomes, which can be gauged over time, through the use of their digital technology.

Neolth

Dr. Katherine Grill is the Co-Founder and CEO of Neolth, a self-guided mobile app and browser for digital mental health care. She said early intervention is the best way to engage youth in their mental health. The digital approach is a positive way to do this. This company allows youths to access mental health education and coping skills and work on stigma reduction. 

Headstream

Dani Bicknell is the Senior Program Manager of Headstream, which is powered by SecondMuse. She says that digital wellness has the chance to serve youths better. Headstream is using digital access to get resources and mental wellness to youths. 

Limbix

Elise Vierra is the Director of Content for Limbix. They utilize digital content to provide immediate, safe, and effective private treatment programs. The content gives teens resources and teaches them to learn, plan, and schedule things to help them feel better. Limbix uses cognitive behavioral therapy to reach youths through the digital world. 

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

We spoke with Brandon J. Johnson, a Public Health Advisor for the SAMHSA and the creator of The Black Mental Wellness Lounge, regarding tech and youth. He said, “There is a huge place for tech in mental health care. Tech is a great way to interface with youth so they can be in touch with safe outlets. Not everything on social media is real, but there is a way to connect with youths through social media. There needs to be a balance between touch and tech to embrace technology for young people to get their information.”

BeMe Health

Dr. Nicoletta Tessler, BeMe Health

Dr. Tessler is the Co-Founder and CEO of BeMe Health. She, Dr. Chaudhary, and Dr. Ramo are providers for the digital health application BeMe Health. She explains that there was a need in the mental health field for a way to better reach teens in order to get them the support they need. “What was being done before, was not working. We needed a way to access teens 24/7, from their phones.” The BeMe application was created to fill this need. 

Dr. Neha Chaudhary, BeMe Health

Dr. Chaudhary is the Chief Medical Officer for BeMe Health. When asked about how she is helping teens with mental health care, she said, “ We are seeing teens who are searching for mental health support. They are not finding it at home, and they are turning to social media, which, as we know, is not the best source. We need an alternative to give to them where they can receive the right kind of support.” 

Dr. Danielle Ramo, BeMe Health

Dr. Ramo is the Chief Clinical Officer for BeMe Health. When asked about teens and mental health, she said, “Teens are struggling with serious and diagnosable things like anxiety and depression. But they are also dealing with undiagnosable things like persistent loneliness and overstress. Creating a platform where teens can get the care they need, when it fits their needs, has allowed teens to receive care through digital apps.” Digital mental health platforms seem to be the way to reach teens in need. 

You can watch our full panel and hear more of these conversations here

ADOLESCENTS
B2C
Aug 4, 2022
7 min. read

How Artificial Intelligence Impacts How Users Interact With Their Social Media

Artificial Intelligence is a growing industry, and researchers constantly discover new and exciting ways to utilize AI technologies to improve health.
Chisom Ojukwu

During the Going Digital: Behavioral Health Tech Conference, we heard from startups, payers, providers, investors, and other visionaries in the behavioral health space. One conversation with Britain Taylor, a Ph.D. Intelligence and Systems Engineering Candidate at the Indiana University Bloomington shed some light on artificial intelligence’s (AI) role in mental healthcare. She is the creator of ShuffleMe, an AI predictive software that detects current mood and helps social media users understand what content impacts their mood in real-time. 

Social Media Use and Mental Health

Studies have found that social media is responsible for aggravating mental health problems. Social media can create pressure to create stereotypes that others want to see. Social theories have found that social media use affects mental health by influencing how people view, maintain, and interact with their social networks. 

According to research, since 2010, iGen adolescents have spent more time on new social media screen activities and less time on non-screen activities. This may account for the increase in depression and suicide. A Pew Research Center study found that of nearly 750 13- to 17-year-olds found that 45% are online almost constantly, and 97% use a social media platform, such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat. A cohort study found that greater social media use correlated to online harassment, poor sleep, low self-esteem, and poor body image; in turn, these related to higher depressive symptom scores. 

AI in mental healthcare 

Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think like humans and mimic their actions to perform tasks. Now more than ever, innovative technologies such as AI are being used in the healthcare industry to address mental health challenges. There has been an increase in funding in digital health, and with AI-powered mental health, record levels of venture capital money are flowing into the sector. 

The three AI technologies transforming mental healthcare are, 

  1. Machine Learning and Deep Learning help diagnose mental health conditions and predict patient outcomes more accurately. 
  2. Natural Language Processing is the ability of a computer program to understand the human language. It is used to simulate human conversations.
  3. Computer Vision trains computers to capture information from image data and use this to understand non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions. 

Artificial Intelligence is a growing industry, and researchers constantly discover new and exciting ways to utilize AI technologies to improve health. Research has shown that AI can even be used to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. The study found that within the first two weeks, users of an AI therapy app, Youper, experienced anxiety and depression decreases by 24 percent and 19 percent, respectively. These levels remained low after using the app for four weeks. The approach to combining AI and telehealth capabilities encourages patient engagement, improving mental health. 

What Is ShuffleMe

ShuffleMe is an AI software that utilizes computer vision through a facial mood tracking camera that takes snapshots at key moments of mood indication. Britain explains how the ShuffleMe experience works. She says that a user would first download the ShuffleMe software, then give the software permission to access the camera on their device. “Then the software does all of the work in the background,” she says. The software functions by tracking facial expressions and eye pupil detection to track the placement of what a user is observing on their screen. Britain describes how “after you browse on Instagram, Facebook, or Tiktok, for example, you would go to the dashboard, and you could toggle mood incline or mood decline to see which social media content impacted your mood. So the software takes a screenshot of what that social media content was when you emoted a negative facial expression.” 

The ShuffleMe software has also expanded to give users access to therapists or psychologists via an online chat. The data from the software can be sent to mental health professionals with certification and knowledge about tech addiction and digital health. ShuffleMe’s user experience is unique because users are given as much information and resources about their passive and active behaviors on social media. “[ShuffleMe] provides access to actually receive help on the platform,” Britain says. 

Britain explains how the ShuffleMe software has changed how users interact with their social media. She says, “We’ve seen our users unfollow certain users… or even deleted one of their social media platforms because their data was showing that the time they were spending on social media and the content was impacting their daily life.” Britain explains her thoughts on optimizing mental wellness through technology: “I think it depends on the individual. Some tech really helps people feel connected, find relatability and increase their sense of community. Depending on the person, the tech doesn’t support the individual or their mental health.” 

Connect with ShuffleMe 

The ShuffleMe software is free to users and can be downloaded at ShuffleMe.app. “We are focused on getting our software in as many hands as possible because we are focused on saving lives and making an impact,” Britain says. The ShuffleMe software is currently partnering with the American Heart Association and connecting with university students to use the ShuffleMe software. You can follow ShuffleMe on Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Linkedin, and Twitter at @ShuffleMeApp. You can access the Going Digital: Behavioral Health Tech talks to hear our entire conversation with Britain Taylor.

HEALTH EQUITY
ADOLESCENTS
Jul 19, 2022
7 min. read

Sounding the Alarm on Black Youth Mental Health

The suicide rate is further exacerbated by unique stressors that Black youth face, such as discrimination and violence, which leads to a higher risk for mental health problems.
Charlotte Hawks

The youth mental health crisis disproportionately affects Black adolescents. We spoke with Brandon Johnson, MHS, MCHES, a Public Health Advisor for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), about Black youth suicide prevention. We also reflect on a conversation from our 2020 conference with Dr. Alfiee Breland-Noble (Dr. Alfiee), Founder of the AAKOMA Project, about how behavioral health technology can help address mental health concerns in the Black community. Both conversations highlight the unique challenges and recommendations for Black youth mental health and what tools are available to help.

Current State of Youth Mental Health

As of 2018, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reported that death by suicide was the second leading cause of death in Black children (10-14) and the third leading cause of death for Black adolescents (15-19). In fact, the death rate by suicide for Black youth is increasing faster than any other racial/ethnic group. Brandon explains, "we've seen the suicide rate of young African Americans, for ages 5 to 12, double in the last thirteen years, and we've seen this rate decrease with their white counterparts."

The suicide rate is further exacerbated by unique stressors that Black youth face, such as discrimination and violence, which leads to a higher risk for mental health problems. Additionally, Black adolescents are less likely to receive care for depression due to many barriers to treatment, such as structural inequalities, stigma, and mistrust of healthcare providers. 

Unique Challenges and Concerns

One factor that may be contributing to the increased suicide rate is that Black youth are experiencing an access problem to mental health resources. As Brandon explains, they "may not have the ability to go and find a mental health support or mental health professional to be able to engage with them. [Another issue] is also how is the system built for our young people to be able to find the support that they need?" 

Unfortunately, our mental health system is challenging to navigate, and on top of that, there is a tremendous lack of mental health providers of color. Only 4-5% of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists are people of color, and less than 2% of American Psychological Association members are Black or African American. The lack of representation can lead to Black youth not seeking treatment due to fears of cultural competence. The lack of providers of color is a problem that will take many years to address. In the meantime, it requires non-Black providers to be genuinely curious about the experiences of the youth that present for treatment.  

Next Steps

There must be a multi-pronged approach to begin to address the rise in suicide attempts in Black youth. Five factors can help protect against suicide:

  • Familial support
  • Spiritual engagement
  • Community/social support
  • Personal aspects (i.e., self-esteem, emotional well-being)
  • Environmental factors such as family housing

Brandon Johnson emphasizes the importance of including the family unit in any interventions, explaining that "young people don't have the ability to do everything on their own, the family unit has to be part of the support that we give to our young people." 

When building digital solutions to help Black youth, it's crucial to meet them where they are and include them at the very beginning of the design process. As Brandon Johnson explains, "if you want to engage the Black community in the services that you provide…make sure that they are there to influence policy, direction, experience, protocols, all of these things should have that community engaged in a meaningful way." 

Dr. Alfiee emphasizes that "there have to be unique ways in which we understand and then begin to try to address the unique mental health needs of Black people and people of color. And I think that behavioral health technology, when built with all these things in mind, can really be something that can move us along that path in the right kinds of ways." 

Both Brandon Johnson and Dr. Alfiee mention the notOK app as an example of a digital health solution getting it right. The app was built by two Black adolescents, and it has a digital panic button to connect adolescents to their trusted contacts when they are in need. Dr. Alfiee explains, "because it has been developed by people of diverse backgrounds, it already has [cultural competency] built into it. It's not an afterthought. It's not an add-on. We don't have to do an adaptation to get to the cultural piece. It's baked in." 

Reminders

1. Include the Black Community and People of Color from the Beginning

If you are building a mental health solution, you need BIPOC involvement from the beginning, not as an afterthought.

2. Mental Health Providers Need to Focus on Cultural Competency

It will take many years to increase the number of mental health clinicians of color. In the meantime, all mental health clinicians need to become genuinely curious about the lived experience of youth of color.

3. We Need to Talk about Suicide

As Brandon Johnson explains, "I know the topic of suicide and suicide prevention can be intimidating, and it can feel scary. But our young people are talking about it. They're having the conversations already, and so if we think that we're doing them a favor by not talking about it, we're not. We're just leaving them to figure some of these things out on their own. We want to be a safe place to land for our young people." 

The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is 988 and is available 24/7 for support, and the Crisis Text Line is available by texting "HOME" to 741741. Please see here for warning signs and how to support your loved ones.

There is so much more to discuss on this topic, and you can hear these conversations and more in our video library

Want a lot more digital mental health and substance use insights? Subscribe to our behavioral health tech newsletter here.

ADOLESCENTS
HEALTH EQUITY
Jul 17, 2022
7 min. read

Building Digital Mental Health Solutions for LGBTQ+ Youth

LGBTQ+ youth face unique challenges that lead to higher levels of mental health concerns. imi is an online platform designed to support LGBTQ+ youth mental health.
Charlotte Hawks

A few weeks after the Going Digital: Behavioral Health Tech Conference, we are highlighting a few conversations held during the conference. We spoke with members of the Hopelab team about their new product, imi, including Fred Dillon, the Head of Advisory Services at Hopelab, Deborah Levine, the Director of LGBT YouthLink at Centerlink, and Primo Goldberg, a youth consultant at Hopelab. We discuss how imi was created, specific concerns that LGBTQ+ youth face, and how digital health can provide an important service.

Background

LGBTQ+ youth face unique mental health challenges. LGBTQ+ youth report higher levels of suicidal ideation than their heterosexual peers. The Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that 45% of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. Additionally, the 2022 survey found that nearly 1 in 5 transgender and nonbinary youth attempted suicide, and LGBTQ+ youth of color reported higher rates than their white peers.

In fact, since the beginning of COVID-19, more than 50% of LGBTQ+ youth report higher levels of anxiety and depression. Additionally, 72% of LGBTQ+ youth reported anxiety symptoms in a two-week period, including more than 3 in 4 transgender and nonbinary youth, and 62% of LGBTQ youth reported symptoms of major depressive disorder, including more than 2 in 3 transgender and nonbinary youth. As a result, 48% of LGBTQ+ youth wanted counseling from a mental health professional but were unable to receive it in the past year. On the other hand, LGBTQ+ youth may also face harassment or a lack of cultural competency from providers, which may lead to an avoidance of mental health services for fear of potential discrimination.

Despite what these numbers suggest, LGBTQ+ youth are not inherently prone to suicide risk because of their sexual orientation or gender identity but rather placed at higher risk because of how they are mistreated and stigmatized in society.

Unique Challenges

LGBTQ+ youth face unique challenges that lead to higher levels of mental health concerns such as bias, discrimination, family rejection, and other stressors due to their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. About 75% of LGBTQ+ youth report facing discrimination, and a 2019 survey found that 86% of LGBTQ+ youth reported being harassed or assaulted at school. In fact, one study reported that lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth were 140% more likely to miss a day of school compared to their heterosexual peers due to safety concerns. 

More than 80% of LGBTQ youth said COVID-19 made their living situation more stressful, and it is estimated that LGBTQ+ youth have a 120% higher chance of experiencing homelessness due to family rejection. Additionally, 94% of LGBTQ+ youth reported that recent politics negatively impacted their mental health. Youth with intersectional identities, such as BIPOC LGBTQ+ youth, face added discrimination, hurdles, and lack of access to mental health care. Family conflicts, heightened stress, lack of community support, bullying, and lack of an affirming environment are all risk factors for poor mental health outcomes for LGBTQ+ youth.

What is imi?

imi was created by Hopelab, Centerlink, and the It Gets Better Project and is an online platform designed to support LGBTQ+ youth mental health. The platform offers four topic-based guides focusing on stress, queerness, stigma, and gender, and these guides are built to be a tool for LGBTQ+ youth to self explore. Each guide has content and activities built to enhance coping skills and mental well-being, alongside LGBTQ+ resources and tips for safer browsing imi also has a quick exit button and will automatically time out after 10 minutes of inactivity. This is thoughtfully designed to minimize the risk of users being unintentionally outed. New data, detailed in a preprint manuscript (not yet peer-reviewed), indicates that imi effectively supports the well-being of LGBTQ+ youth.

Knowing all of the barriers and stressors that LGBTQ+ youth face, Fred explains, “what we know is that there are big disparities in mental health for LGBTQ+ teens. So the whole reason we developed this was to give them a greater sense of support, a better sense of an ability to explore and affirm that identity, and then also to manage some of the stressors that just come up of living in a world that doesn’t always affirm and is sometimes outright hostile.” imi was built in conjunction with LGBTQ+ youth to ensure that it is meeting their needs. 

imi is also free to access, and Deborah explains, “this really meets young people at the very starting point for them. Anyone can access it as long as they have technology. And my hope is that they will have the sense that there’s a community out there supporting them, that cares about them.”

imi also addresses the intersectional nature of identity and how those identities can influence a person’s lived experience. Primo explains, “It’s amazing to know that there are people recognizing the specific intersections of being a person of color, being queer, and being genderqueer because there’s not a lot of mainstream recognition of intersectional identity and the oppressions that intersectional identities experience.” 

imi can also be useful as a guide that therapists use with their patients as well. Fred explains, imi “can provide some tools that folks could use between sessions and bring back to talk with their therapist about.” 

These are just a few of the many insights from our conversation with Fred, Deborah, and Primo. To hear the full conversation and learn more about imi, go to our video library.

Want a lot more digital mental health and substance use insights? Subscribe to our behavioral health tech newsletter here.

ADOLESCENTS
B2B
Jul 16, 2022
7 min. read

Helping Families With Neurodiverse Children Get Access To The Right Care

Neurodiversity refers to the concept that brains have developmental differences that result in normal differentiation that lead to different strengths and differences. Companies are trying to create a supportive community for these families, but "access for access sake does more harm than good."
Charlotte Hawks

We hosted a panel discussion about neurodiversity moderated by Tom Cassels, the President and General Manager of Rock Health’s Advisory business. One of the incredible leaders Tom spoke with is Marissa Pittard, Co-Founder and CEO of Beaming Health, a company focused on helping autism families find resources, get advice from families and experts, and learn about their child’s diagnosis. The conversation also featured Rebecca Egger, Co-Founder and CEO of Little Otter, a company that provides virtual mental healthcare for children 0-14 and addresses concerns such as anxiety, aggression, tantrums, attention difficulties, sleep, sadness, and relationship conflicts.

What is Neurodiversity?

Neurodiversity refers to the concept that brains have developmental differences that result in normal differentiation that lead to different strengths and differences. In other words, there is no “right” way of thinking, learning, or behaving. The term came about in the 90s to promote acceptance for people with autism spectrum disorder. But, the term now refers to a range of conditions, including autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, Tourette’s, Down syndrome, epilepsy, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, borderline personality disorder, anxiety, depression, and others. Some people may not have a formal diagnosis but self-identify as neurodiverse and may have difficulty navigating social relationships, group environments, or sensory processing. 

An essential part of working with neurodiverse children is helping them work toward their own goals, rather than having a standardized set of benchmarks. For digital health companies working with this population, it’s important to work toward long-term relationships with therapists to help keep kids engaged.

How are Companies Helping These Families?

Marissa mentioned, “a parent told us recently, getting a diagnosis right now it’s like being pushed off a cliff and told to find your own parachute.” These companies are trying to create a supportive community for these families to land. Rebecca explains that “the end game for us is let’s support people as early as possible. And so we can have the biggest impact on their lives.”

In supporting these families, Rebecca and Marissa have both built their companies to focus on helping families in unique ways. Marissa explains how Beaming Health is “really focused specifically on autism families at the earliest part of this journey…how can we stand up a care model where families get access to the right care and resources as soon as possible?” Beaming Health emphasizes early intervention for autism families.

Rebecca explains that Little Otter “released a mental health toolkit. [Which] are free resources that provide really personalized feedback for parents…[and] our mental checkup that gives an entire 360 view of the entire family.” Little Otter emphasizes engaging the entire family unit in care to better understand total family mental health.

Choice and Quality in Behavioral Health 

In our conversation, we discussed the importance of quality and choice in behavioral health care. Marissa remarks, “every parent or caregiver is the expert on their own family. Who are we to tell you what might be best for your family, because you as parents know it so much better than us. Our job really is empowering parents and families with the information and resources they need.” She says that the team at Beaming Health they have found that “families have different preferences and communication styles, [and] the relationship between the family and the therapist, may not be quite right.” They have found that giving their families a choice has empowered them to find the best fit for their family needs.

Rebecca agrees that families know their kids best, and they should be able to make decisions that are best for them, but she also emphasizes that quality has to go along with finding a match for each family. She says, “We’ve seen many families who’ve tried up to 10 interventions before coming to us. And so, even though that’s great that there’s access out there, something we talk about is we’re improving access to actual quality care. And we need to add that quality bit because access for access sake does more harm than good in young children.”

Tom echoes a common refrain among neurodivergent families: “If I can get an appointment, I don’t want it.”

Important Partners 

Of course, these companies do not work alone in trying to help these families. Tom asked each panelist who their most important partners are in this work. Rebecca mentioned that “70% of all the mental health meds for young children are prescribed by pediatricians,” so they can be a significant partner in first recognizing that help is needed.  

She also mentions that “teachers who are interacting with the children every single day, they have the most impact on the child’s life… They’re often the first to realize something’s going on.”

Marissa talks about the role that payers play, saying, “there’s just so much power in how the reimbursement flow impacts coverage, the appropriate amount of coverage and thinking about new types of resources and services that are covered, to me is one of the most powerful forces for solving a lot of the problems we’re seeing with our families.” Rebecca echoes the power that payers have and emphasizes, “the most impactful for us would be if insurance companies can really wrap their minds around this whole family care model.” These startups cannot do this work alone and rely on other stakeholders and partners to create a community of care for neurodivergent families. 

These are just a few insights from our conversation with Tom, Marissa, and Rebecca. To hear the entire conversation, check out our video library.

ADOLESCENTS
B2B
May 12, 2022
6 min. read

How to Improve Mental Health Care Accessibility for College Students

To say there’s a growing mental health crisis among youth is an understatement. Campus counseling centers are adapting quickly to meet the growing need for quality mental health care, but are often constrained by their own limitations. This is why Mantra Health is working with leaders in higher education.
The Mantra Health Team

Students are dropping out of school at alarming rates. While the overall dropout rate is 40%, 30% leave before ever reaching their sophomore year – and as of 2021, 71% of student drop-outs cited “emotional distress” as the reason. To say there’s a growing mental health crisis among youth is an understatement, as more and more students face anxiety, depression, and severe mental health concerns. Campus counseling centers are adapting quickly to meet the growing need for quality mental health care, but are often constrained by their own limitations. This is why Mantra Health, a leading provider of young adult mental health care, is working with leaders in higher education to expand service offerings, remove care barriers, and close mental health equity gaps. 

How do university students access mental health care on campus? 

Most colleges and universities have a counseling center and this is often the go-to resource for students in need of on-campus care. Often they exist independently of a school’s health center and include licensed counselors or therapists who are responsible for outreach efforts, preventative care, and one-one-one counseling sessions with students. Counseling centers provide vital services, but are often unable to meet student demand because of administrative responsibilities, limited resources, staffing challenges, budgeting constraints, and other factors.

Counseling centers don’t usually have the bandwidth to provide care on weekends, breaks, or over the summer months, nor do they have expertise in specializations, such as psychiatry, making it difficult to treat different states of acuity. To address these concerns, colleges and universities need to expand their mental health offerings to include more diverse and comprehensive care, such as teletherapy, telepsychiatry, crisis care, or unique therapy specialties, which are accessible at any time throughout the year.  

How is Mantra Health increasing mental health care accessibility? And how are their services designed specifically for university students?

Mantra Health has a diverse provider team, 50% of which identify as people of color and majority of whom are trained in unique specialities. Mental health needs are personal – and can occur at any time and place – which is why virtual offerings, flexibility, and personalization are necessary for college mental health care. University students are battling numerous stressors, including work obligations, financial strains, academic pressures, and busy social lives. We can’t expect students to wait three weeks to be seen by an on-campus counselor. More comprehensive needs require more comprehensive care. 

Mantra Health, a clinically-informed digital mental health provider, offers colleges and universities a variety of telemental health services, along with an innovative, student-focused platform that supports flexibility, collaboration, and ease of care coordination. Mantra Health works with colleges and universities to provide teletherapy, telepsychiatry, and crisis care to students, but the major difference is Mantra Health’s willingness to work intimately with counseling centers to fill in gaps, provide additional services, continue care through breaks and summer months, and ensure students’ needs are met in whatever capacity they are needed. 

Why is collaborative care an integral part of Mantra Health’s offering?

On-campus counseling services are necessary to the overall health of a campus and Mantra Health has no intention of replacing them. Rather, the telemental health provider offers an extension of services, working closely with on-campus counseling centers to provide additional care to college students. If students don’t have a car or if they can’t visit the center due to work commitments, academic obligations, or other reasons, they can access teletherapy or telepsychiatry through Mantra Health’s interactive, easy-to-use platform. This is where counseling centers, care navigators, and providers can maintain regular means of communication, ensuring that a student’s care is managed most appropriately and effectively. Should a student need care beyond the academic school year, Mantra Health’s team of providers can work with the counseling center or student directly to extend the student’s offerings, preventing unnecessary disruptions.

How does Mantra Health, an off-campus provider, ensure quality of care?

Mantra Health takes an evidence-based approach to mental health care. All providers are held to the highest quality standard of care and must maintain clinical and cultural competence. They are highly trained experts who understand the unique needs of college students. Mantra Health’s providers have their own diverse backgrounds, specialities, and perspectives, making them well positioned to work with many different populations of students, many of whom are seeking providers who understand their personal experiences and mental health challenges. 

Mantra Health is also one of the leading providers of telepsychiatry for young adults, a specialty area that is hard to find on college campuses, but incredibly important for the well-being of high acute students who face severe mental health conditions. Trained psychiatrists can work with on-campus clinicians and medical providers to assess the physical, mental, and psychological needs of a patient. This is incredibly beneficial when prescribing or managing medication or preventing a crisis situation from developing. 

If you want to bring mental health services to your campus or learn more about Mantra Health, schedule a call with our partnership team today.

ADOLESCENTS
Mar 24, 2022
7 min. read

Supporting Parents of Neurodiverse Children in the Workplace with Family-Focused Benefits

As employees are resigning at record highs, employee mental health benefits are becoming non-negotiable. Employees are looking for employers who support them in all aspects of their lives. This includes behavioral health resources not only for the employees but also for their families.
Alyssa Moreno, MBA

As employees resign at record highs, employee behavioral health benefits are becoming non-negotiable. Employees are looking for employers who support them in all aspects of their lives. This includes behavioral health resources not only for the employees but also for their families.

One area of workplace benefits that deserves more attention is employees who are parents of neurodiverse children. Parents are struggling to juggle the demands of work and caring for children with special needs. Employers could retain talent by offering family-focused, holistic offerings to support parents in these situations.

Alyssa Moreno, Senior VP of Marketing at Whil, shared more with us on employee behavioral health benefits for the whole family.

Why are employee mental health benefits crucial for employee retention?

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, a record 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs in August 2021. Furthermore, Mental Health America’s 2021 Mind the Workplace report showed that 83% of respondents are feeling emotionally drained from their work. We’ve reached a critical state of mental health in the workplace and employers that don’t lean into supporting their employee population are at risk for being yet another statistic in ‘The Great Resignation’. Building mental health benefits into an employer’s offering is no longer a nice to have. Employees are savvy and they know they have choices. The pandemic has also brought a newfound clarity to how employees expect employers to show up for them and it starts with recognizing the world is in a very different place than it once was only a few years ago.  

Whil offers three solutions in its platform: Personal Wellbeing, Professional Resilience, and Parenting & Caregiving. Can you tell us more about these and why each is important?

Personal Wellbeing is about how you take care of yourself as an individual. We like to say that you need to put your own gas mask on first before you can help anyone else or your organization. The Personal Wellbeing solution helps you to be the best version of yourself and offers hundreds of evidence-based mini-courses to help improve your mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing. We help employees reduce anxiety, learn to meditate, sleep better and more. 

Our Professional Resilience solution helps empower employees with the skills needed to navigate challenges in the workplace. We help employees manage career stress, build emotional intelligence, and create high performing teams. In addition to our content for employees, we also offer skill-building courses for managers and leaders to play a proactive role in creating a healthy culture at work, with industry-leading courses for supporting DEI in the workplace. 

Parenting & Caregiving provides families with clinically validated digital and live trainings to help manage challenging behaviors at home. Our solution is available to the entire family and can support parents, children, and other caregivers in and out of the home environment. We offer mental health courses for parents and children, social and emotional growth trainings for all children and foundational skills support for caregivers of children with behavioral disabilities such as Autism, ADHD, Dyselxia and more. What makes this solution unique is we also offer 1:1 consulting hours with our on-staff Board Certified Behavior Analysts who can offer more personalized approaches to care when it is needed most. 

What type of support does Whil provide for parents of neurodiverse children?

Roughly 1 in 6 children are born with some type of developmental challenge (ADD, ADHD, Autism, etc.) and we know that parents who raise children with developmental challenges are at higher risk for poor mental health as well as poor physical health. The Whil platform enables employers to holistically support parents of neurodiverse children with care for their children as well as themselves. We’ve heard time and time again that the personalized support provided by our BCBAs gives these parents a level of confidence that they’re on the right path. Here are just a few examples of ways in which our participants have benefitted from the holistic program and our 1:1 BCBA sessions.

“This program was so helpful to us in validating that we knew our child best, what was right for him and that we weren’t wrong in thinking our child needed some help not only educationally, but emotionally. It was a relief to talk to someone who understood our struggles and had a plethora of suggestions of things to try that were actually helpful.” 

“This has helped my two boys tremendously. I am forever grateful. This program has given my boys the confidence to be successful in their reading and communication.” 

“My son has ADHD. He’s struggled primarily with focus, impulsivity and attention span. He’s a fidgety, energetic guy with a huge heart and creative mind. I’ve used some of the tips and tricks that I’ve learned on creating task charts and facilitating more organized and smooth mornings and evenings for both of my children! I also learned more about our rights as parents for a student with challenges such as ADHD. The database is a treasure-trove filled with helpful information. When you are concerned about something with your kids, you can feel very overwhelmed and lonely sometimes. It’s great to have a positive place to go and learn, ask questions and get great advice!”

ADOLESCENTS
B2C
Feb 10, 2022
8 min. read

How Hazel Health Is Closing the Physical and Mental Health Care Gap for Millions of Children and Teens

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy has again addressed the devastating effects of the pandemic on the mental health and well-being of young people. Hazel Health is already providing fast access to equitable physical and mental health care to millions of students nationwide.
Maggie Elentukh

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy has again addressed the devastating effects of the pandemic on the mental health and well-being of young people.

According to the CDC, schools have direct contact with “56 million students for at least 6 hours a day during the most critical years of their social, physical, and intellectual development.” There’s plenty of data demonstrating that for a variety of cost, mobility, and time reasons, youth in underserved communities aren’t getting the access to high-quality health care they desperately need. However, school-based health centers can be a game-changing source of access to physical and mental health services for youth who need it most.

Hazel Health is already providing fast access to equitable physical and mental health care to millions of students nationwide. Students have access to their services regardless of their financial or insurance status. I was delighted to connect with the Hazel team and discuss how they are expanding healthcare access to children and teens across the country:

Why is it important to address mental health in schools in addition to physical health?

K-12 students are facing an unprecedented mental health crisis. Before the pandemic, approximately 17% (1 in 6) U.S. youth ages 6-17 were experiencing a mental health condition each year, but as many as 60% of students (ages 12-17) with depression did not receive any treatment. Of the adolescents who did get help, nearly two thirds did so only in school. During the pandemic, depression and anxiety symptoms in youth doubled compared to pre-pandemic levels. 

Hazel Health believes that one way to make sure children and teens can access mental health services is to meet students where they spend their time - at school and at home. This removes so many of the barriers that students face when trying to seek mental health care, including months-long wait times to see a provider, transportation, and the difficulty of navigating the health care landscape to find appropriate, affordable, high quality mental health services. 

At Hazel we have found that the line between physical and mental health isn’t black and white, particularly when working with children and teens. We partner closely with school nurses, who have always known that their students who visit them frequently, complaining of stomach aches or headaches, often have something else behind that - depression, bullying, and other issues outside their control at home or in their communities, such as food or housing insecurity. School nurses and counselors have always identified these issues - Hazel gives them a resource to connect them with to address both their physical and, when needed, mental health. Hazel therapists can see students immediately short term, and then work to connect them with a local therapist or other resources for longer term counseling. 

We have focused on providing same-day service for physical health, and very short (1-2 week) wait times for mental health, to help close the gap for the 20 million children in the U.S. who lack access to high quality health care. 

Although Hazel is not a replacement for primary care providers, do you see children in rural areas using the platform more frequently due to its accessibility?

Hazel has a unique viewpoint - we work with school districts in both urban and rural communities. Transportation is a core challenge we solve, and that comes up in both rural and urban communities. In rural communities, the nearest clinic is often very far away. 23% of Americans in rural areas say access to good doctors and hospitals is a major problem in their community. However, in talking with parents and school staff, this issue is just as relevant in urban communities. In urban school districts, parents have shared with us that getting to a clinic that accepts their insurance is sometimes a 2 hour bus ride away, and costs $15. Compound that with hours of missed work to pick up their child from school, wait several days for a sick-visit appointment, travel to and from the clinic, and the cost for a family living on low wages becomes astronomical. For both urban and rural communities, entire family systems are helped when they can see a Hazel doctor or therapist right from school, and they are more likely to get care.

An additional benefit of making physical and mental health services more accessible, with less travel time or time waiting for an appointment, is that students miss much less school. In one study Hazel did with WestEd and the Department of Education, we found that nearly all telemedicine visits (94%) resulted in students safely returning to class by resolving immediate health concerns. Students who returned to class received, on average, three hours of instructional time remaining in the school day. This resulted in over 2,500 instructional hours saved over two years for this particular district.

How is Hazel addressing systematic health inequities faced by children and families in under-resourced communities?

At Hazel, addressing social determinants of health is a key component of our mission. Hazel was founded on the belief that great health care addresses not just a physical or mental ailment, but also the social and environmental context surrounding a person's health and well-being. For children across the country to experience improved health outcomes, we must consider the conditions in which they live and learn, and we must take steps to address challenges in their environment that contribute to poor health outcomes. 

Economic stability is a key predictor of good health. Today, around 37 million people in the United States live in poverty and more than 16% of children under 18 years old live below the poverty line. Many people can’t afford healthy foods, health care and housing. Hazel serves all students, regardless of their financial or insurance status. This means that all children, those who have insurance, and those who don’t, can benefit from the service. 

By providing access to physical and mental health care right from school, Hazel helps students remain in school, and parents at work (parents don’t have to take off work to take their child to the doctor, resulting in missed pay in many cases). Hazel’s Family Resource Managers help connect families to community resources such as food services and housing programs. 

We recently developed a 1-page summary of Hazel’s impact across each of the 5 core social determinants of health for more of a deeper dive into this topic. 


To learn more about Hazel, request a demo, or view career opportunities visit us at www.hazel.co

ADOLESCENTS
B2C
Jan 13, 2022
10 min. read

Why Employers Are Shifting Towards Family-Focused Behavioral Health Benefits

In an attempt to help the entire family and ease the burden on the working parents, employers are increasingly interested in behavioral health benefits that are family-focused.
Naomi Allen

Amid the Great Resignation, employers are striving to support their employees in various ways. Mental health concerns have risen during the pandemic, which has created a need for employers to support the mental health of their employees. These times have been especially difficult for parents in the workplace. These mental health concerns are not only affecting them but also their children. In an attempt to help the entire family and ease the burden on the working parents, employers are increasingly interested in behavioral health benefits that are family-focused. Brightline has been in the spotlight for providing behavioral health care that is specifically designed for children, and they have recently published a guide for supporting the mental health of employees with kids. We spoke with CEO Naomi Allen about the importance of family-focused behavioral health benefits.

Why do kids and teens need care specifically designed for youth?

Kids aren’t just small adults! When it comes to behavioral and mental health, you really can’t just replicate what’s been built for adults and have it work for kids and teens. What’s going to work for you as a parent at 35 or 50 years old just isn’t right for a 3 or 15 year old. It seems obvious, but to do it right takes a lot of factors and designing specifically to work for each age range. So even from the start, you need to consider that the way kids present with behavioral and mental health issues is different, and how to address that — for example, depression in kids can often show up as irritability. Kids and teens confront different issues, and respond to therapeutic interventions differently. Managing tantrums, developing organizational skills for school, coping with teen’s self-esteem or tough stuff with friends — you need to be able to really meet kids and teens at their level, and tailor interventions to work for where they’re at in that moment, emotionally and developmentally. 

Here’s a good example of what that could look like: you may have a middle schooler who is feeling worried lately as schools are shutting down again, and is having trouble sleeping. At Brightline, we would assess where that child is, and if their anxiety meets a clinical level of need. If so, we can get them started with a therapist to work through those worries, build coping strategies, and address the impact on their sleep. But maybe their anxious thoughts don’t hit a clinical level of need — in that case, we can get them into our “Sleep Made Simple” coaching programs to build skills for tackling the anxiety and related sleep issues, alongside self-guided content with their parent or caregiver.

This is exactly why Brightline isn’t adapted for kids, it’s built for kids. Everything we do is flexible and designed specifically to work for children and families — meeting them where they are emotionally, developmentally, and literally bringing it to them with virtual care. By engaging parents and caregivers in their child’s care, giving them access to progress updates and regular check-ins, they are supported and know how their child is progressing forward. Our coaching programs, therapy, evaluation and medication support, speech therapy, and ongoing support and resources for parents and caregivers alongside their kids, and for teens, in our digital platform — we’ve designed it truly to work for them.

How does pediatric behavioral health benefits support working parents and their families?

For working parents and caregivers, juggling the demands of a full-time job and the complexities of seeking care for their child can feel completely overwhelming. Rates of behavioral and mental health needs among youth are skyrocketing. Parents and caregivers themselves are suffering too: more than half (59%) say they’ve experienced their own behavioral health challenges due to the stress of managing their children’s behavioral health needs.

This isn’t going away — we expect that the pandemic will have lasting impacts on mental health, and we need to get out ahead of this and support families so they don’t have to make the difficult decision to leave the workforce. We can meaningfully support parents and caregivers by giving them access to comprehensive behavioral health care for their children, through virtual care, coaching, and self-guided content — so that they can access what they need, when they need it.

We’ve felt this in our own company. The majority of our executive leaders, and many others on our team, are also parents to children under the age of 18 — some of whom have significant behavioral health needs. For many of our kids, those needs have been exacerbated during COVID. The ongoing uncertainty and changes during the pandemic have made it incredibly difficult to balance this all — some of us have had to cut back, or in past lives before Brightline, had to quit jobs to care for our kids. This shouldn’t be a decision parents have to make, yet it’s happening every day. We can, and must, change this by getting working parents and caregivers care that actually works for their children, and supports them, too.

Why is behavioral health support for the entire family important for employers to get through the Great Resignation?

This is all taking a real toll on working families and their employers: in fact, our 2021 Pediatric Behavioral Health Needs Survey found that one in five (21%) of parents and caregivers have either already quit their jobs in the last year or plan to quit their jobs in the coming year to better care for their children’s behavioral needs. There’s an increasing gap with women feeling burned out and leaving the workforce at higher rates than men.

We’re approaching the third year of the pandemic, and it’s costing employers. According to Gallup, replacing an employee costs half to two times the employee’s annual salary. When employees are having to spend so much time managing their kids’ behavioral health needs with limited or so support, there’s a significant impact on productivity, too. Add to that medical costs associated with employees’ own heightened mental health needs, and this has a significant cost burden for employers.

It shouldn’t be either/or for parents and caregivers. By making behavioral and mental health care for children and families a covered benefit, health plans and employers can connect families to much-needed support so they don’t have to choose between their careers and supporting their kids. Families deserve better, and companies have the power to change this situation.

What are you seeing in terms of health plans and employers making this shift in benefits?

I think we’re really seeing a shift in adoption of family-focused benefits. At Brightline, we’ve driven significant momentum in this past year to meet the needs of families. In the past year, we expanded our digital platform, Connect, and coaching programs to all 50 states, the first time comprehensive behavioral health care for kids, teens, and families was made available nationwide. We’ve now had nearly 14,000 parents and caregivers using Connect, in all 50 states. We’ve expanded our clinical services to cover 89% of the U.S. population in terms of the states where we have licensed therapists at the ready to work with families. We’ve seen fast and significant adoption by leading health plans and national employers who recognize the great need and impact bringing these services to their members will have — we’re now covering 24 million health plan lives, partnering with 35 employers, and are rapidly forging new partnerships and expanding access from here.

Want to partner with Brightline? Reach out to partnerships@hellobrightline.com or visit hellobrightline.com to learn more.

ADOLESCENTS
POLICY
Nov 4, 2021
7 min. read

Youth Mental Health: A National Emergency

Last week, three youth health agencies, American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association, declared a state of national emergency in child and adolescent mental health. Several health tech companies and GDBHT partners came together to inspire a call to action.
Solome Tibebu

Last week, three youth health agencies, American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association, declared a state of national emergency in child and adolescent mental health. Several health tech companies and GDBHT partners came together to inspire a call to action. 

The declaration addressed the upward trend of mental health concerns for youth. It alarmingly noted suicide as the 2nd leading cause of death for 18-24 year-olds in 2018. Given the effects of COVID-19 and racial injustice over the past two years, the mental health of our youth has only worsened--disproportionately affecting youth of color. The industry cannot keep up with the elevated demand for mental health services. Youth are waiting weeks, or even months, to access the care that they need. The children who may have waited to seek care until they absolutely needed it now have to wait even longer. This can be an incredibly frustrating process for families who are already suffering.

This state of national emergency is a call to action and advocacy for crucial changes to address these issues and provide solutions to our youth. We believe technology will support the ability to  address youth mental health in a more scalable way, and we’re proud to have some amazing innovators in our network. Learn more about some of our newest and existing GDBHT partners tackling these issues below:

BeMe Health, a digital behavioral health platform built specifically for teens, today announced that it has secured $7M in seed financing and partnerships with leading commercial and Medicaid healthcare payors to transform behavioral health for teens. Backed by Polaris Partners and Flare Capital Partners, the funding will be used to help accelerate and scale operations around BeMe’s unique tech-enabled approach to teen mental health. Board members and advisors also include Alexandra Cantley, Partner of Polaris Partners; Bill Geary, Partner and Cofounder of Flare Capital; Carolyn Magill, CEO of Aetion, Inc. and me! 

Bend Health is a new healthcare company launched to increase access and reduce the cost of expert mental health care for families. It is revolutionizing the treatment of mental health conditions for kids and teens through a novel data-driven technology platform and evidence-based care model that enables the first scalable and integrated care solution in mental health. They’re also one of the few mental health providers who enable access to high quality teen and child psychiatrists within 48-hours or less through a clinically-validated collaborative care model (CoCM).

Brightline is the first full-family behavioral health solution built specifically to care for kids, teens, and parents across a range of common family challenges. With multidisciplinary care teams, personalized family system care, evidence-based care delivery, and extraordinary technology, Brightline is able to support families with whatever challenges they’re facing and ultimately help them thrive long-term. They recently announced a new partnership with another GDBHT partner, Violet, as part of their ongoing commitment to continue delivering inclusive care for the many communities it serves.

Hazel Health is the largest telehealth provider for K-12 schools, partners with school nurses, counselors, parents, and local providers to bring high-quality whole child health care to every student. Nearly 2 million students use Hazel for fast access to equitable physical and mental health care. Recently, they announced the addition of Dr. Travis Gayles as Chief Health Officer, Andrew Post as Chief Innovation Officer, and the promotion of Jeannie Chen to Chief Clinical Operations Officer, furthering the company's commitment to transforming access to quality healthcare for all. 

Headspace Health - Earlier this summer, on-demand mental health care startup Ginger (now Headspace Health) had announced their new offering for adolescents ages 13-17, “Ginger for Teens.” Teens who are dependents of Ginger-eligible employees can gain access to text-based coaching, self-care resources, and if needed, twelve video-based therapy and psychiatry sessions at no cost via smartphone. 

Holmusk - a leading global data science and health technology company building the world’s largest Real-World Evidence (RWE) platform for behavioral health, announced its abstract was published as part of the Proceedings of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) 68th Annual Meeting. AACAP’s Annual Meeting is the world’s premier gathering of child and adolescent psychiatrists. They stated that their results generated new insights that can inform policies and guidelines around the practice of polypharmacy for individuals with ADHD.

Hopelab is building a road map to deliver hope for the next generation through targeted social impact investments, translational research, and advisory services that focus on advancing solutions for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ youth mental health. A few months ago, Hopelab announced an external investment initiative, Hopelab Ventures, a commitment to partner with innovators who advance the well-being of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ youth.

For people who have a child or loved one struggling with OCD or disorders related to OCD, like Hoarding, Tics, or Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors, it can be difficult to navigate. NOCD offers specialized OCD treatment, for people ages 5 and up, through live face-to-face video therapy sessions with licensed therapists. All NOCD therapists are trained in Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy - the gold standard OCD treatment - and members receive support between sessions through the NOCD platform. In addition to our live face-to-face video therapy sessions, NOCD also offers educational resources and guidance through sessions designed for family members, caregivers, and friends of those with OCD and related conditions. These sessions help them support their loved ones in their progress and provide guidance on how to assist them through difficult situations.

Telosity by Vinaj Ventures invests in companies addressing gaps in care by developing affordable and scalable solutions to support youth mental well-being. They recently published some research revealing Gen Z is leading the charge to change society’s perception and approach to mental health challenges.

Log into our library to watch the entire Going Digital: Behavioral Health Tech youth track here for free.

ADOLESCENTS
Aug 5, 2021
5 min. read

Youth Mental Health Is Having a Moment!

With increased attention to youth mental health through the pandemic, more resources are pouring into the topic than ever before. Allyson Plosko, Director of Telosity, shared their approach to investing in youth mental health startups.
Allyson Plosko

Some of you know that I came into this space first as a very anxious teenager. I was gripped with panic attacks and obsessive compulsive disorder as an adolescent, but with very few places to turn to online. It was at that time that I started a blog to help other teens with anxiety, ultimately nurturing my interest in technology and online communities for mental health. 15 years later, adolescent mental health issues are more prevalent than ever, with 9.7% of youth in the U.S. having severe major depression in 2021, compared to 9.2% in last year’s Mental Health America dataset

However, there is also reason to be very hopeful: with increased attention to youth mental health through the pandemic, more resources are pouring into the topic than ever before. Philanthropies like Pivotal Ventures are leading the charge in investing resources into adolescent mental health. States like California are allocating unprecedented funding in student mental health. New youth mental health startups are emerging and established mental health startups are tailoring their services to youth. 

I run The Upswing Fund for Adolescent Mental Health, a philanthropic collaborative fund seeded by Pivotal Ventures, Melinda French Gates’ personal investment and incubation company. I’ve also had the great pleasure of serving as an advisor for the Telosity fund and Hopelab for a few years now. This year at Going Digital: Behavioral Health Tech’s 2021 conference (#GDBHT2021), we had an entire track dedicated to youth mental health. I’m thrilled to share some thoughts from Allyson Plosko, Director of Telosity, and their approach to investing in youth mental health startups:

Why are you investing in youth mental health tech?

17% of young people experience a mental health disorder. Despite the well-established benefits of intervening early, a significant portion of these kids—as high as 60% for those suffering from major depressive disorder—don’t receive the care they need. It’s clear that the traditional way of delivering mental health services is leaving many young people in need, and we think there is a huge opportunity to leverage mental health tech tools to support young people where they are, which, like most of us, is online. While the youth mental health tech market is still relatively nascent, we are excited by the immense potential to positively impact young people and hopefully reduce the impact mental health issues have on a young person's life trajectory.  

One of your investment pillars at the Telosity fund is to foster positive online experiences and interactions for young people. Why is this important at this moment in time?

The confluence of events over the past year and a half have shown that we need more inclusive, authentic ways to virtually connect. Even before the pandemic, young people were struggling with loneliness. In a study done by Cigna, members of Gen Z ranked as the loneliest generation. While it might be easy to place all the blame on technology, we actually think that thoughtfully designed tech tools can be a really important part of helping young (really, all) people feel more connected to others. 

Your most recent investment was in Ksana. Tell us more about them? 

Ksana Health is improving mental health through objective measurement and personalized interventions. Ksana Health was born out of academic research from the CEO, Nick Allen, Ph.D., who is widely known in the field for his research in adolescent mental health. Aside from the expertise of the team, what initially attracted us to Ksana Health is the problem the company is solving around mental health measurement. There currently isn't an efficient way to understand the state of an individual's mental health and determine whether that person might be at risk of a crisis. We think solving this challenge will help unlock care delivery models that better triage individuals, allowing clinicians to practice at the top of their license and increase access to those who need care the most. 

Log into our website for free to see so many rich youth mental health sessions co-hosted with Telosity and Hopelab here, including Ksana Health, Dr. Wizdom Powell, and so many more.