A major moment for digital mental health services

Companies offering remote care are seeing a surge in demand. Can they keep up?


April 15, 2020

We’re stress-baking and stress-eating. People are calling an unnerving recipe video of a strawberry pie a work of art. Doomscrolling has entered the lexicon (as people who get paid to bring you news, trust us — take a break once in a while). 

These are tense times. They’re also a pivotal period for businesses that offer virtual mental health services.

It’s about more than mindfulness

Companies offering remote care are seeing a surge in demand. Meditation apps like Headspace rolled out free services to users and health care providers to help them cope.

  • Ginger, which focuses on on-demand coaching and video therapy, sells services to companies who pay for workers to get access. The company saw a nearly 50% increase in the number of active users in February and March compared with the preceding 6 months.
  • A psychiatrist who leads mental health efforts for the insurer Kaiser Permanente says 90+% of mental health visits at Kaiser now take place virtually.

More upstarts are entering the field each day: The wellness company Hims & Hers introduced group therapy sessions last week. 

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And on Tuesday, Frame launched a mental health platform that includes a library of workshops focused on common questions and problems. (“What’s the difference between stress and anxiety?” and “how to keep from spiraling” are just a few examples.)

For providers, the shift hasn’t been so calm

Regulatory hurdles and privacy concerns (like the giant jerks who trolled virtual AA meetings) aren’t going away anytime soon. But if these companies can prove themselves at such an important moment, they might help show that telemedicine really is here to stay.

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