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How we rolled out essential mental health support to 2.2 million employees in a month

Our learnings from offering free digital therapeutics for mental health (Daylight for worry & anxiety, Sleepio for poor sleep) to employers during the pandemic

The last month has been a whirlwind for all of us, as we struggle to adapt to social distancing — both physically and mentally. At Big Health we are exceptionally well-positioned to help at this time — our evidence-based digital therapeutics for mental health (Daylight for worry & anxiety, Sleepio for poor sleep) are deliverable at a distance without the need for human contact.

So, at the beginning of March, I announced that we’d be providing our products at no cost to employers, to allow them to rapidly offer essential mental health benefits to their teams. The response has been enormous, so I thought I’d share some insights and lessons learned.

1. There’s a huge demand for essential mental health support right now

As soon as I posted my initial blog post, I started receiving emails from employers all over the world. In just a few weeks, we engaged with over 160 US employers and rolled out help to companies ranging from Nike, to the forward-thinking Texan retailer H-E-B, to the frontline healthcare heroes at UCSF. The initiative has also allowed our existing customer Target to expand access to their whole population, at a time when store workers themselves are on the front lines.

But the demand is not limited to the US. In the UK, we worked quickly to provide no cost access to Daylight and Sleepio to all 1.2m NHS employees, many of whom are valiantly serving on the frontlines of this crisis under great strain. Once more I’m grateful that, thanks to our digital therapeutics being fully automated, we’re able to provide effective and consistent mental healthcare at great scale very rapidly, even to those in isolation or working under challenging conditions.

Tweet from Prerana Issar, Chief People Officer of the NHS

2. But employee benefits teams have less bandwidth than ever to provide help

As the number of enquiries has grown, it has become clear that employee benefits teams are completely swamped right now. Not only are they struggling with all of the same daily challenges as everyone else, but it also falls on their shoulders to protect the health of their employees under threat from the pandemic. So even if they want to deploy our solutions to their employees, they’re physically unable to unless the process is incredibly low effort.

So we quickly developed a rapid deployment model that allows us to get help to a population with close to zero effort for the benefits team. This “community access” version includes lightweight terms, and a turnkey communications package that benefits teams can use to provide easy access to their population. As a result we can now deploy urgent access to our products within 24 hours of receiving the first enquiry from an employer.

3. It’s affecting every type of employer, but healthcare providers more than anyone else

When we look across the employers we’ve engaged with, there are a couple of striking features. First, there’s an incredibly broad spread in terms of size (from global Fortune 10 companies through to 10 person teams), and sector (from retail to airlines). It really is the case that mental health is a challenge for all of us right now.

However, the second striking observation is that the largest single sector asking for help is healthcare. Even if you don’t include the NHS, healthcare still makes up for 39% of the organizations we’re providing help to. It’s a great honor to be able to provide help to the frontline teams who are literally putting their lives on the line for us all — and glad that, given our commitment to clinical evidence, we’re able to meet the high quality bar those healthcare organizations set for solutions they offer.

Industry split of employers signed up to offer our mental health benefits in the past month

It looks like there’s still a way to go before we get through the worst of this crisis. Until that point, at Big Health we’ll continue to offer no cost access to our digital therapeutics, as long as we’re able, in support of our mission to help millions back to good mental health. Whether or not we can help, I hope you stay safe during this challenging time.

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During the COVID-19 public health emergency, Sleepio and Daylight are being made available as treatments for insomnia disorder and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), respectively, without a prescription. Sleepio and Daylight have not been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of insomnia disorder and GAD, respectively.

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