Calm Health working with Mayo Clinic to develop cancer-specific mental health program

Calm Health, the mental health offering of meditation app Calm, is tapping the Mayo Clinic to help design digital mental health programs to help cancer patients manage anxiety, depression and mental wellness.

Launched late last year, Calm Health is targeted at employers and payers aiming to bolster their populations’ mental health or to support better outcomes for those with physical health conditions. It’s also pitched to providers as a low-burden, integrated digital tool for monitoring and managing patients’ mental health.

This week, the platform announced it has entered into “a know-how agreement” with the Minnesota-based health system—particularly Mayo Clinic oncologist and researcher Andrea Wahner Hendrickson, M.D.—to build out a clinical mental health program for adult cancer patients.

Also contributing to the program will be Jennifer Kilkus, Ph.D., a psycho-oncology specialist and an assistant clinical professor at Yale School of Medicine, according to the announcement.

“There is an urgent need to prioritize mental health care just as we do physical care,” Rhett Woods, general manager at Calm Health, said in a release. “Calm Health seeks to create transformational and effective mental health and mindfulness tools to help patients through the challenging physical and emotional experience of chronic conditions or diseases such as cancer.”

The company’s announcement cited academic research from the past decade estimating that up to a third of patients treated for cancer in a hospital also have a common mental health condition. Another review placed rates of major depressive disorder among people with cancer to be up to three times higher than the general population.

Calm Health officially launched last October with the long-term goal of offering condition-specific mental health programs for a range of diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity—all of which the company said it is still building in tandem with the cancer program.

Among the platform’s major selling points were programs designed alongside parent company Calm’s content team to be engaging for users, screening tools that can direct users to the appropriate level of mental health care and federal privacy standard compliance.

The upcoming program will be available to Calm Health customers and “will be designed for all adults with cancer,” according to the announcement. The company said the program will be completed during the third quarter of 2023 and will be rolled out near the end of the year.  

Though it launched in October, Calm Health was officially established in early 2022 when parent company Calm acquired health app maker Ripple Health Group. Financial terms of that deal were not disclosed, though it did bring Ripple CEO David Ko to the co-CEO position at the mental health unicorn.

Demand for behavioral health services is outpacing the supply of providers, outlining a clear opportunity for the digital mental health market following the stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent months have seen digital mental health benefits company Spring Health pull in a $71 million funding round and $2.5 billion valuation while Apple increased its support for mental health tracking within the Health app.