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Brief Published: 9 Jan 2020

New Platforms Democratising Mental Health Care

Only 33% of teen boys affected by depression in the US were helped in 2019

Many people are deprived access to physical and mental healthcare because of their financial or social circumstances. We spotlight three new standout initiatives supporting these underserved consumers to make emotional wellbeing more inclusive.

  • Therapy for Marginalised Communities: Despite projections that most of America will be non-white by 2050 (Census Bureau, 2017), the number of white psychologists in the US workforce (86%) vastly outstrips the number of black (4%), Asian (5%) and Hispanic (5%) specialists (APA, 2018). Tackling this issue, US teletherapy app Ayana matches users with therapists based on mental health symptoms, but also their life experiences, race and culture. Due to launch in January 2020, the app uses a matchmaking algorithm to pair patients from marginalised minority groups with a therapist from a similar background who’s more likely to understand their context.
  • Supporting Students: In December 2019, Brigham Young University (BYU) in Utah gave students free access to Sanvello, a mental health app providing users with clinically validated techniques to manage stress, anxiety and depression. Given 80% of US college students suffer from frequent stress (AIS, 2019), there’s a real need for  empathetic and affordable initiatives like this one. As the US economy loses $53bn annually to mental health-related work absences (Science Daily, 2018), businesses can learn from BYU and offer free preventative support for employees that might not otherwise be able to pay for the service.
  • Gamified Therapy: While 45% of teen girls in America received treatment for depressive episodes last year, only 33% of teen boys affected by depression were helped (Pew, 2019). Addressing this gap, 11-year-old Canadian Luke (surname withheld) designed Let’s Be Well, a game in which users play as a character with depression named Bob. As Bob overcomes obstacles, the grey background becomes more colourful to represent recovery. The award-winning game includes pop-up messages that teach young players about depression, helping them understand mental health and provoke conversation. As 90% of teenage boys in the US say they play video games (Pew, 2018), it’s a method of support that will appeal to this often-overlooked demographic.

For more initiatives supporting consumers’ psychological wellness, see Nurturing Mental Health. To understand how brands and businesses are making everyday essentials like food, transport and healthcare more accessible for everyone, see Economic Inclusion: The New Brand Imperative.