Over the past few weeks we’ve received another reminder that the world we live in is constantly changing. As COVID-19 has spread, governments and employers alike have raced to adapt.This has meant a sudden shift in the way we live and work. In just the last week, Salesforce, Google, and many others have announced that they are encouraging their employees to work from home, or even closing their offices. There are many widely available productivity tools that can help with the mechanics of this transition, such as video conferencing and instant messaging. However, we may be less well prepared to support the mental health of our teams in a new working model that prioritizes “social distancing”.
Isolation itself can be distressing, but it also means that those in need are less able to access mental healthcare services. Combined with the general anxiety around the impact of the virus means this is likely to be a challenging time for the mental health of many.
This has prompted me to think about how we can help. It was my experience of insomnia, and my difficulty in being able to access effective non-drug solutions, that led me to found Big Health with clinical psychologist Professor Colin Espie. From personal experience, I can say that a feeling of isolation is a feature of mental health problems at the best of times. This galvanised us to find a way to make effective psychological solutions for mental health more scalable.
Our response was to create “digital therapeutics” - fully automated, evidence-based software programs, featuring cognitive and behavioral techniques, that allow people to self-address poor mental health. Today we offer Sleepio for poor sleep, and Daylight for worry and anxiety (the most common night and daytime effects of poor mental health), mainly via large employers and health plans across the US. Since they are fully digital, our products can offer effective help to people at a distance, without the need for human contact.
I believe our products could play a valuable role in supporting mental health at this time. What we know best is how to deliver our solutions via employers, so that’s our starting point - we’ve decided to offer access to our products to employers at no cost during this period, to give them the tools to better support the mental health of their teams. We’ve come up with a lean, quick-access version of our products that can be deployed and distributed easily.
If you’re an employer, and you think this would be helpful for your population, send a message to email@example.com and we’ll figure out how to get your team set up with access. If you’re not an employer, not employed, or if you’re self-employed, and you want access, get in touch and we’ll work out how to make that happen. Of course, this situation is evolving as rapidly for us as it is for everyone else, so please bear with us as we do our best to help.
Whether or not our products can help you, I hope you and those close to you stay safe and well during this challenging time.