With up to 40 million Americans suffering from anxiety and worry annually, digital therapeutics startup, Big Health has launched a mobile app, which it believes is the answer to the problem.
The startup, which designs, develops and deploys web- and mobile-based applications that deliver personalized behavioral medicine, said the app, Daylight, uses scientifically proven techniques based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to address feelings of worry and anxiety.
Big Health Chief Executive Officer and founder, Peter Hames, said: “With anxiety and other mental health issues causing distress to millions and costing trillions worldwide, widespread access to effective solutions has never been more critical. By combining the expertise of world-leading scientists, animators and storytellers, we’ve been able to develop digital therapeutics that respond to the human, emotional reality of these problems. We are excited about the potential for Daylight to help many more people back to good mental health.”
In developing the app, Big Health collaborated with experts from Boston University, University of California, Los Angeles, University of Oxford and University of Texas, Austin to teach individuals how to respond to negative thoughts, use their body to reduce stress and tension and face their fears directly.
“Developed by leading podcast producers, filmmakers, designers and animators, including veterans of Pixar and NPR’s Radiolab, the Daylight app combines animation with the intimacy of the human voice to provide a fully immersive visual and auditory experience that is personalized, lighthearted and upbeat,” a statement said.
On its website, Big Health describes the Daylight app as a fully automated yet highly personalized mobile app “designed by experts in building emotional connection at scale, using proven behavioral techniques from scientific experts.”
The startup said the app listens and talks to patients, understands their challenges and goals, and them through learning and practicing proven strategies for reducing worry and anxiety in their lives.
“Daylight learns about you, your challenges, and your goals to personalize your program, and it responds to how you’re feeling in the moment to provide relevant help wherever and whenever you need it,” the company said.
Big Health has also developed a digital CBT-based program known as Sleepio, a digital sleep improvement program accessible to more than 12 million people worldwide through employers and payers including Boston Medical Center, Comcast, the Hartford and the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS), the startup said.
Lisa Kelly-Croswell, SVP and chief human resources officer at Boston Medical Center, said: “As an organization, we are committed to providing comprehensive wellness and mental health resources. We’ve found Big Health’s first program, Sleepio, to be a fun and effective way to help our employees improve their sleep. We’re now excited to offer Daylight and further expand options for our employees to access mental health resources in an innovative and accessible format.”
The San Francisco, California headquartered Big Health said recent studies had shown that CBT was effective in nearly 50 percent of individuals across all types of anxiety. More specifically, the startup continued, studies had shown that digitally delivered CBT can lead to large improvements in anxiety, worry, distress, disability and quality of life.
It is estimated that 18 percent of Americans experience an anxiety disorder annually. The World Health Organization estimates depression and anxiety cost the global economy $1 trillion a year.
“Individuals with an anxiety disorder are significantly more likely to use more healthcare services, require hospitalization or visit the emergency room leading to 93 percent higher healthcare costs on average,” Big Health said.
There are several types of anxiety disorders such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder and various phobias. “However, all anxiety disorders have one thing in common: persistent, excessive fear or worry that is disproportionate to the situation,” the company said.
Mental Health America said studies had shown that many people with mental illness do not seek treatment in the early stages because of discrimination, stigma, and lack of awareness of warning signs. With a personalized mobile app, Big Health believes it can reach out to more people and help address the problem.
“Most people who need help with worry and anxiety don’t get it. Daylight is a scalable solution that aims to address that,” Hames said.