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Apps abound for mental issues

The goal is to provide people mental health care by lowering barriers like high costs and social stigma.

Sundy Locus

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Mood Patterns, Innerhouse, What’s Up, MindDoc, Happy: They all have a common denominator. They’re mental wellness apps on Android and iOS.

With anxiety and depression among the natural results of the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdowns imposed by governments, the apps are gaining downloads although many of them are gimmicky.

One such mental health app developed in Singapore, “Intellect,” is being seen as a serious tool to combat depression that can result in people opting out of their earthly existence.

Theodoric Chew, co-founder and chief executive officer of “Intellect” said it has already reached one million users six months after its launch, a top pick for “best personal growth” app of 2020.
Insignia Ventures Partners (IVP) led investors including e-commerce platform Carousell in funding “Intellect.”

“In Intellect, we see a fast-scaling platform addressing a pain that has become very obvious amidst the COVID-19 pandemic,” said IVP in a statement.

“We believe that pairing clinically-backed protocols with an efficient mobile-first delivery is the key to break down the barriers to access for millions of patients globally.”

Chew said the app’s goal is to encourage more people to incorporate mental health care into their daily routines by lowering barriers like high costs and social stigma.

The app is actually two products — a consumer version with self-guided programs anchored on cognitive behavioral therapy techniques that center on anxiety, relationship and self-esteem issues.

The other is for employers so they can offer a mental health platform for their employees backed by real mental health experts whom people can talk with via video sessions and through unlimited text messaging.

The Philippines passed in June 2018 its first mental health law (Republic Act 11036), effective 26 February 2020. In line with the law, several tech-driven companies have been formed like mindyou.com.ph in a bid to create “happier, healthier and more productive workforces.”

Intellect’s enterprise product now reaches 10,000 employees, and its clients include tech companies, regional operations for multinational corporations and hospitals. Most are located in Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia and India, and range in size from 100 to more than 3,000 employees.

For many small- to mid-sized employers, Intellect is often the first mental health benefit they have offered.

Larger clients may already have EAP (employee assistance programs), but Chew said those are often underutilized, with an average adoption rate of one to two percent. On the other hand, he said Intellect’s employee benefits program sees an average adoption rate of 30 percent in the first month after it is rolled out at a company.

Chew added that the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted more companies to address burnout and other mental health issues.

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