Originally appeared in Medtech Boston.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. They affect 40 million adults, or 18.1% of the population, every year. Furthermore, anxiety disorders affect 25.1% of children between 13 and 18 years old, putting them at a much higher risk to perform poorly in school, engage in substance abuse, and miss out on important social experiences. Even though this disorder is highly treatable, only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment, most likely due to a perceived societal stigma, with men far less likely to seek treatment.
A study done by The National Center for Telehealth & Technology entitled “mHealth for Mental Health: Integrating Smartphone Technology into Behavioral Healthcare,” suggests that mobile solutions can help those who may fear seeing psychologists in-person and can better fit diverse needs and lifestyles than traditional methods. With that said, the study also claims that mobile solutions cannot achieve everything that an in-person visit with a therapist or psychologist can. It states, “smartphone technology has the potential to make behavioral health care more accessible, efficient, and interactive for patients and can improve the delivery of evidence-based treatments. Overall, the use of smartphones and other mobile technology has many benefits for both clients and practitioners. We recommend that behavioral health researchers and clinicians consider the evaluation and use of them as part of their practice, but also keep the evolving privacy, ethical, and policy issues in mind.”
Adam Pardes, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of NeuroFlow emphasizes that mental health technology isn’t meant to replace the physical presence of therapy, but rather complement it. “I think mental health hasn’t been revolutionized in the same way through technology as those other aspects of medicine have, and in a large part that makes sense because it’s very nuanced; there’s very strong human component to it,” he says.
“I think if you can get away from the idea of trying to replace the mental health clinician with chatbots and similar things, and view technology as a way to assist mental health providers, assist mental health patients, engage them; that technology can play a really important role in making sure clients don’t drop out, making sure that they are able to self-manage and generalize the skills that they are learning and apply therapy to their everyday lives.”
NeuroFlow is a Philadelphia, PA based startup that has raised a $1.25M Seed Round, announced on October 18, 2017. It is a mobile application and website that is designed to better assess, track, and engage clients in the time spent between therapy sessions. Studies show that in between sessions is when those suffering from mental illness are most likely to struggle. NeuroFlow fills in this gap with digital exercises which positively reinforce self-care. Users are assigned homework such as journal entries, rating scales, and CBT style worksheets. Automated nudges help remind users to complete assignments. The company provides wireless biometric sensors to measure real-time emotional states like stress during exposure therapy, or relaxation during guided breathing exercises.
Adam Pardes, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer says, “Longer term, our goal is to be the standard of care, so to speak, for mental health. Everyone who uses NeuroFlow in their practice can help engage their patients with monitored homework assignments and with real time physiology assessments. We think this could be something that’s in every psychologist’s office in the country.”