This episode is a wide-ranging conversation with Abhishek Chandra, a co-founder and CTO of Spring Health, which is a comprehensive mental health benefit for employers that goes beyond the traditional employee assistance program. We talk about the role of tech in mental health including machine learning, genetic testing, and online therapy. It’s really interesting stuff!
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Spring Health helps individuals and organizations thrive by eliminating every barrier to mental health. It is a comprehensive mental health benefit for organizations and employers, serving companies such as Niantic. Their goal is to remove barriers to treatment and mental wellness by using data-driven strategies. We open up our discussion by talking about what Spring Health does, how it differs from companies internal employee assistance programs, and what Abhishek’s role there is.
The role of technology in mental health
There are some problem and limitations in the field of mental health that technology could resolve or reduce. We discuss how technology can help with access to care, costs, measuring care, as well as helping to find novel approaches through the use of machine learning. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning are being used in mental health research to get the data to tell us what is important, which has benefits over traditional research methods. Abhi describes this in more detail and explains what this looks like and how it’s being integrated into modern research, screening, diagnosis and predicting outcomes.
We chat about the type of information and data collected from individuals when using AI and machine learning including the role of genetic testing in mental health and its current limitations – the hope is to be able to identify which medications work for which people.
Despite the speed of progress, the use of technology in mental health is still very much in its infancy. We talk about this more and take a look at the pros and cons of online therapy platforms, including the loophole some use to allow practitioners to work with people out of state. Abhi also talks about the need to ensure services and platforms are actually helping individuals to get better and the importance of looking to the data to determine the actual value of the services you provide (value-based care).
Abhi outlines the differences between mental health services generally offered by organizations and those which his service provides, along with the need to develop preventative care in order to catch problems early on when applying these principals beyond the workplace. We discuss the benefits of managing risk for the employees of a large (or small) organization, rather than managing crises as and when they occur, and how this has a positive return on investment.
Workplace culture: times are changing
Abhi talks about how the conversation about mental health has changed and continues to do so as the stigma surrounding mental health reduces. Workplace culture is changing and there is now more openness and support for receiving help in many organizations. Companies are beginning to recognize the need to care for employee’s mental health and how this long-term investment can create a much more productive workforce.
If you are in a company and have some issues, ask what your benefits are and use the NIMH’s online modules as a starting place. Abhi chats about his own personal story with depression and how he came to be interested in resources like Spring Health. He didn’t even know he was depressed and when he tried to get help, there were many barriers that he feels don’t need to be there. This was a primary motivation in founding Spring Health. Abhi chats more about his company, how it works, and what the services Spring Health offer from the perspective of employees.
Spring Health is heavily underpinned by research and there are a lot of exciting things to announce in the near future. Their recent research indicates that the optimal amount of exercise for peak mental health is 45 minutes of moderate intensity, preferably team sports, 3x per week. Abhi discusses this in more detail and some interesting findings from the study.
That’s a wrap! Thank you to Abhi for joining me on the show. If you’d like to find out more about Spring Health then head to their website or reach out to them on Twitter. You can also find Abhi on Twitter
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