As the coronavirus pandemic unfolds throughout the world, experts are calling for research into the possible long-term mental health effects of the crisis.
“The pandemic is clearly having a major social and psychological impact on the whole population, increasing unemployment, separating families and various other changes in the way that we live that we know are generally major psychological risk factors for anxiety, depression and self-harm,” Ed Bullmore, head of the department of psychiatry at the University of Cambridge and co-author of Multidisciplinary research priorities for the COVID-19 pandemic, told The Guardian.
“Our key message is that Covid is likely to have major impacts on mental health now and into the future and we need to start thinking about that immediately.”
Based in Boston, Massachusetts, HealthTech startup SilverCloud Health is aiming to remove the barriers that prevent people from accessing mental health services around the world, such as limited transportation, a lack of practitioners and stigma. Over 17 years of clinical research have gone into the company’s award-winning digital mental health platform, and over 65 percent of SilverCloud patients, employees and members have shown significant decreases in depression and anxiety symptoms as a result.
“We are committed to providing truly impactful mental health support to all those with need,” Ken Cahill, CEO of SilverCloud, said in a statement. “The need has never been greater than during this unprecedented global crisis. SilverCloud enables easier, earlier access to clinically validated mental health care that shows results equivalent to face-to-face care for the 1 in 5 people with a diagnosable mental health condition.”
The startup offers more than 30 programmes to over 300 organisations worldwide, making it the world’s leading digital mental health platform for healthcare systems and providers, health plans and employers. Through its online platform, SilverCloud offers accessible in-home programmes to help companies optimise resources, reduce the cost of services and improve patient outcomes.
And with the social distancing measures in place throughout the world, the ability to access mental health care remotely is needed more than ever before.
“With millions of people being asked to stay home and health systems needing to prioritise care, we recognise the heightened need for virtual support as the world copes with the COVID-19 pandemic,” Cahill said.
“In response, SilverCloud is providing its clients, free of charge, expanded access to its platform to even more healthcare professionals, their families and patients to help make a difference for those in need in the current crisis.”
The platform has been used by more than 350,000 users and is increasing by over 15,000 users per month—including over 70 percent of the mental health services provided by the UK’s National Health Service.
SilverCloud raised $16 million in Series B funding, bringing its total to $30 million. The funding round was led by MemorialCare Innovation Fund, which included LRVHealth, OSF Ventures and UnityPoint Health Ventures, with participation from Act Venture Capital and B Capital Group. Four of the investors are associated with leading US healthcare systems that currently use SilverCloud.