Headspace Health’s offering and how it has helped users across the globe 

Headspace Health’s offering and how it has helped users across the globe 

It’s no secret that mental health services are strained to their limit. As such, there has been an increase in people taking matters into their own hands and using apps, like Headspace, to help. Simon Miller – International Partnerships Lead, Headspace Health, talks to us more about the company, its offering and the data surrounding it.  

Most people are familiar with the Headspace brand. We are a global leader in meditation and mindfulness – the practice of observing your thoughts and feelings without judgement and developing the ability to be present and fully engaged with whatever you’re doing at the moment.  

What you might not be aware of is that in late 2021, Headspace merged with the American coaching and therapy app, Ginger, to create Headspace Health – a combined company that delivers mental health and well-being solutions to over 100 million people across 190 countries. Today, we work with over 4,000 companies and insurers worldwide to deliver a stepped-care approach: from self-guided care through Headspace’s in-app content, to on-demand text-based behavioural health coaching and therapy. The expansion of care services is a primary focus for us, in fact, earlier this year, we launched our International Care offering that provides coaching and therapy services in combination with the Headspace app to thousands of companies, as well as insurers, in both the US and UK. 

Meditation and mindfulness is an increasingly common, evidence-based practices employed by individuals to help manage anxiety and stress, both at home and in the workplace. Research has found that between 200-500 million people currently meditate; and while meditation and mindfulness have been around for thousands of years, there’s no doubt that technology is enabling faster, easier and more cost-effective access to these tools.  

Since their inception, apps like Headspace have brought guided meditation and mindfulness exercises to the masses, at the touch of a screen it’s possible to enjoy serenity in your daily life.  

In more than 40 published studies, Headspace has been shown to have favourable outcomes of intervention, for example – after only 10 days of Headspace, individuals saw a 16% increase in positivity. Headspace was also shown to reduce negative emotions and sadness by 28% and reduce stress by 14%.  

While this data is encouraging, meditation and mindfulness solutions alone are not enough to solve the mental health crisis that we are facing globally. In the UK alone, NHS waitlists for access to mental health services have reached record levels, with up to 1.2 million Brits currently awaiting community mental health support and an average wait time of more than 12 weeks to access services.  

Delayed access to treatment can have a hugely detrimental effect on those in need, which leads to further demands on an already struggling system. The business model and treatment options currently in place are not sustainable given the increased demands on our mental health service. It is imperative that we look to long-term, scalable and cost-effective solutions that deliver the right care to the right people at the right time in an accessible and inclusive way. This is especially relevant now, as one in eight people globally are suffering from a mental health disorder (WHO, 2022), and existing solutions and clinical capacity are currently insufficient to meet this need.  

It is common knowledge that the mental health sector is cripplingly underfunded, with an alarming shortage of resources. This is where we must look to cost-effective digital mental health solutions as part of future treatment plans. While this virtual technology has been available for many years, it was not until the pandemic that digital healthcare solutions started to become more universally adopted and integrated by providers and payors and more readily used by consumers. 

Yet, even with this live application during the pandemic, this technology remains underutilised within healthcare and mental health, where it will make the strongest impact.  

The case for funding digital-preventive mental health solutions should be clear, but, as with preventive care more generally, health systems and payors are not always as forward-looking as they could be – partly because of the pressure to solve for the more instantly measurable here and now.  

One possible solution is employer health plans. Companies are increasingly seeing the multiple benefits of spending money on this, which include increased productivity, improved attraction and retention rates. Employees expect more from their employers today than ever before, including well-being benefits to support them in and outside of work. Our recent Workforce Attitudes Report revealed that one-third of British workers felt their employer wasn’t doing enough to support their mental health and over 63% admit they missed at least one day of work due to stress, anxiety or other mental health challenges.  

Burnout is real within industries and with our International Care offering, we aim to help support struggling healthcare providers by empowering employers by providing a caring service that is designed with an emphasis on prevention. This digital-first service offers a 100% scalable approach that can be tailored to individual needs. For many, the entry to mental healthcare through Headspace acts as a soft introduction to coaching and therapy, which may previously have been seen as something ‘not for me’. There is also a significant financial upside for companies using this stepped-care solution. Cost-effective sub-clinical support through coaching can be leveraged to maximum benefit within an employee population while reserving clinical solutions for those that need it. 

Our service offers unlimited 24/7 access to a team of highly-trained Headspace Health behavioural health coaches to build coping skills and manage day-to-day stressors related to general wellness, work, family and relationships, among others. This coaching is delivered via text with a market-leading response time – within two minutes – so employees can access the support they need in real-time or schedule sessions with a dedicated coach of their choice. Counselling services are also a part of the service offering and can be accessed via video, phone or in-person sessions with licensed counsellors trained in a range of clinical specialities. 

There is now also the emerging subject of AI and what this means for the future of healthcare and approaches to mental health at large. Human contact and connection have historically been central to therapeutic practice, but with ChatGPT bringing the subject of AI into daily parlance, we often get questions about the use of AI within our mental health offering. For us, our core belief and entire business model are anchored in human-led and human-focused care – the connection our members have via live conversations with coaches and therapists through chat, video or in-person is irreplaceable. That said, we’re using AI highly selectively, for example, when providing users with personalised content recommendations or assisting care providers with note summarisation to improve care efficiency. We strongly believe that AI has a big role to play in reducing cost and increasing access to mental healthcare – both desperately needed. 

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