Meru Health develops digital mental health support program for employees with mild anxiety and depression
Looking to prevention, Meru Health, maker of digital mental health tools, is launching a new program aimed at helping employees dealing with mild depression or anxiety symptoms.
The program, called Meru Health Coaching, will use the Emotional Intelligence model and will combine video coaching with digital content.
From the patient perspective, the program will include an onboarding video call, digital content, virtual workshops and a chat-based support program from both a coach and peer group, according to the company.
A participant’s one-on-one video call will be centered on their unique needs. After the call, patients can tap into the prerecorded videos and other digital content as much as they need. Participants will also have weekly group workshops.
Meru will sell the new program to employers in order to help care for employees’ mental health. According to Meru Health, insurance and employee benefits provider Unum will be the first to go live with Meru Health’s offering.
“With Meru Health Coaching, employers can assist employees to reduce stress, increase resilience, improve wellbeing and enhance personal development. The employees are guided to take Meru Health’s Digital Triage, which is a confidential, self-guided assessment of one’s state of wellbeing,” Kristian Ranta, CEO and founder of Meru Health.
“Those who show signs of high stress, or mild depression or anxiety symptoms are recommended to participate in the Coaching program. Before, during, and after the program, the employer will get aggregated reports on the state of their population’s mental wellbeing and how it’s improving.
“This is a great way for the client to enhance their mental health offerings to their employees and provide a prevention solution to help be more proactive in maintaining mental well-being.”
Ranta stressed that Meru Health is interested in the mental health prevention space.
“Mental Health-related prevention is now more important than ever. Not only do we have a record number of clinical-level mental illnesses, but also the sub-clinical population, those with high levels of stress or mild depression/anxiety, is at record heights,” Ranta said.
“And if we don’t help this population now, we will risk these people sliding into more serious mental illness. Just like with any other health condition, we can and should take action to prevent mental illness.
“Our approach is based on the Emotional Intelligence framework to help people build self-regulation skills. This way we can help them reduce stress, enhance relationships, expand positive influence and sustain optimism and resilience through stressful circumstances.”
WHY IT MATTERS
Both depression and anxiety are common conditions in the U.S. According to the CDC, about 16 million Americans are impacted by depression every year. Additionally, 11.2% of adults report they regularly feel worried, nervous or anxious.
However, today there is a shortage of mental health providers. National Council of Behavioral Health reported that 77% of counties in the US are experiencing a shortage of mental health professionals. Increasingly innovators are looking to tackle this gap with the help of tech.
“Depression and anxiety have tripled or even quadrupled during the pandemic, according to the latest research. While we need to urgently help those with depression or anxiety, it’s important to realize that there will be a lot of aftermath from these adverse events. There will be consequences for our mental wellbeing that we will be dealing with for a long time to come, and we need to prepare for that.
“When it comes to trends, we are seeing more and more the shift to value-based care, even in mental health. We are also seeing more scientific evidence required and more accountability from providers when it comes to quality of care.”
THE LARGER TREND
Last year, Meru Health landed $8.1 million in Series A, building on its $4.2 million seed funding round. The company, which is known for its 12-week mental health coaching program, also launched a biofeedback tool in 2019. The tool is clipped on a user’s ear when they are doing a specific biofeedback practice provided by the Meru Health platform.
Over the last year, we’ve seen an uptick in interest in digital mental health. According to Rock Health’s 2020 report, digital mental health funding increased by 2.9x compared to funding in 2019. Like Meru Health, many are focusing on the employer space.
For example, Modern Health scored $74 million to meet the demand for mental health benefits. Lyra Health, Vida Health and Ginger are others working in the employer-focused digital mental health space.