Increased availability of virtual mental health tools reported as the COVID-19 crisis continues

Use of virtual mental health tools is expected to rise significantly over the coming months as self-quarantine and social distancing measures show no signs of being lifted, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Kathryn Whitney, MSc, Director of Thematic Analysis, comments: “COVID-19 has placed enormous strain on the mental health of the general public, as well as healthcare professionals. The crisis is causing heightened anxiety and stress, with people feeling vulnerable and struggling with worries about contracting the virus, job losses and pay cuts, on top of juggling childcare with work, isolation and general uncertainty about the post-COVID-19 future.

“There is likely to be a spike in mental health conditions over the next few months, which will place demand on already strained healthcare systems. Accessing mental health services will be challenging, given that so many people are now required to stay at home, so there will be demand for proven digital solutions.”

Calm and Headspace, providers of leading meditation apps, have released free offerings to help with anxiety and panic during the crisis. Calm has created an online hub with meditation, sleep support and music content, while Headspace has unlocked a special collection of meditation and mindfulness content called Weathering the Storm.

Meanwhile, in the US, Cigna’s Express Scripts is making the SilverCloud Health digital mental health platform available to clients and their members at no cost. Similarly, Kaiser Permanente is offering its members free access to Livongo’s mental health app myStrength, which is designed to improve users’ sleep and mood. The app now features content related to the COVID-19 pandemic and isolation, including modules to manage heightened stress, tips for parenting during challenging times and ideas to manage social isolation.

In the UK, NHS staff have been given free access to several mental health apps to support their health and wellbeing as they battle COVID-19 at the frontline. The apps include Headspace, Unmind, Big Health’s Sleepio, and Daylight, a cognitive behavioral technique to manage worry and anxiety.  

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