The COVID-19 pandemic has driven a spike in anxiety and depression as the U.S. faces psychological fallout from the health crisis.
In the last year, nearly 4 in 10 U.S. adults have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, a dramatic increase versus the 1 in 10 figure reported from January to June 2019, according to a February 2021 analysis of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Health Interview Survey and the U.S. Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey data by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
As a result, many employers are focused on providing tools and services to address their workers' mental well-being.
"We hear across all of our customer bases, from payers and employers, there is a great need for accessible, easy-to-use solutions for mental health, and the need is really great across multiple conditions including stress, anxiety and depression," Mary Langowski, CEO of Solera Health, told Fierce Healthcare.
"Part of the problem is that for far too long mental health services and solutions have been stigmatized, overly difficult to navigate and not easily accessible. There are a lot of new digital health solutions that can make it easier for employees to get the support they need," she said.
Solera Health, a benefits network that connects patients, payers and physicians with a curated network of programs, is teaming up with Headspace to expand the meditation, mindfulness and mental training app directly to payer and employer member populations.
“As a mental well-being company, we’re excited to partner with Solera to reach more people with our mindfulness solutions for stress, sleep, resilience, and so much more,” said Sarah Romotsky, director, healthcare partnerships solutions at Headspace. “We’re committed to supporting people’s mental health and teaming up with Solera enables us to meet people where they are in their healthcare journey and further our mission of improving the health and happiness of the world.”
The Headspace app offers more than 1,000 hours of mindfulness and mental well-being content, and the company has reached 70 million users in 190 countries. With 28 published research studies in peer-reviewed journals, Headspace has been shown to have favorable outcomes such as reduced stress, increased resilience, increased positivity and improved satisfaction with life.
The company's business-to-business operation, Headspace for Work, provides its mindfulness products and services to more than 2,000 companies such as Starbucks, Adobe, Hyatt and Unilever.
The company, founded in 2010, has raised $216 million in funding to date.
The partnership with Solera simplifies access for payers and employers to a consumer-friendly brand by integrating the app to the Solera Connect platform, Langowski said.
"From there, our payer and employer partners can access a range of condition management solutions via a single contract and IT integration," she said.
Through Solera, consumers have access to a single touch point for managing their health and mental well-being. The platform streamlines communication with the consumer, so they receive important, timely information from their payer and employer on the solutions available to them.
Solera handles the most resource-intensive tasks associated with delivering complex programs to drive better health outcomes including claims processing, compliance, consumer engagement, eligibility checking, consumer matching and vendor management, according to the company.
'We're hearing about sleep issues, high-stress levels, anxiety and depression and the need to build resilience in the employee space. That's causing big problems for employers these days," Langowski said. "Payers and employers also are recognizing now that if you’re going to address weight management or musculoskeletal issues, you also need to offer mental health and stress solutions to people."
She added, "The wonderful thing about the last 12 to 18 months is the flip side of how stressful it's been and how the mental health numbers have ticked up: The stigma also is coming down. Everyone is recognizing it's finally time to make mental health services easier to navigate, more accessible and affordable."
The health benefits startup, which has raised $73 million in venture capital funding, works with more than 400 administrative services only groups and thousands more employers that are fully insured through payers to provide access to the Solera platform and programs. The company also works with more than 40 health plans.
Mental health and stress are part of Solera’s ever-expanding roster of health condition solutions including diabetes management, diabetes prevention, falls prevention, social isolation, tobacco cessation and weight management.