RCT Shows Users of Digital Mental Health Experience Eighteen Times Greater Reduction in Depression
In a unique collaboration, myStrength, Inc., a digital behavioral health company, along with a large, national, healthcare payer and one of its employer-customers, completed a randomized control trial (RCT) investigating how employers can use digital programs to help employees manage depressive symptoms in a self-help, non-clinical, real-world setting.
About the Study
Employees were invited to participate in a prospective RCT to assess the effectiveness of myStrength at reducing depression in the workplace. Additionally, all eligible and consenting study participants were open-minded to health and wellness treatments.
Participants who opted-in were randomized to either the intervention group receiving immediate access to the full myStrength program, or to the active control group receiving a series of informational e-mails about depression, followed by access to the full program at the end of the study.
Those participants receiving immediate access to the full myStrength program were offered an array of evidence-based, digital behavioral therapy resources and tools to manage depressive symptoms and overall emotional health. myStrength's web and mobile-based content provided participants with access to cognitive behavior therapy, mindfulness, behavioral activation and acceptance and commitment therapy plus interactive eLearning modules, tailored health and wellness information and individualized activities. Employees using the digital program also received regular e-mails with evidence-based tips and encouragement.
Throughout the study period, both groups were repeatedly compared with respect to depressive symptom reduction as measured by a validated survey questionnaire.
"Using the gold standard, randomized controlled trial design in a real-world setting brings sophistication and methodological rigor to population-based behavioral health data," said Dr. Krista Schladweiler, myStrength's VP of Health Economics and Outcomes.
Within the first two weeks, myStrength users experienced a reduction of their depressive symptoms 18 times greater than the control group. While all study participants experienced lessening of depression over the 6 month study period, myStrength users spent considerably less time being symptomatic.
Additionally, while all participants were identified as experiencing symptoms of depression, only 37% were also seeking treatment from a mental health professional, further underscoring the unmet treatment needs of this population.
93% of participants in the myStrength showed strong engagement with the tools presented as compared to 73% of the active control also suggesting the strength of a robust and diversified digital approach.
"This study not only shows the potential of the digital medium for increasing access and impacting population level mental health, but also represents our commitment to building a strong evidence base for digital and mobile health," said Scott Cousino, myStrength's CEO.
Why Digital Tools for Depression Matter
Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and is a major contributor to the global burden of disease, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Estimates show that nearly 350 million people globally are affected by some form of depression.
16 million adult Americans live with major depression. With over 6.9 percent of the U.S. population living with depression, a large majority have cited their workplace as a major contributor. As a result, depression in the workplace poses a significant burden to both employees and employers.
A national representative, epidemiologic survey found that 6.4% of employees in the workplace had depression. According to Mental Health America (MHA), when left untreated, depression is as costly as heart disease or AIDS to the US economy. Estimates show depression costing over $51 billion in absenteeism from work and lost productivity and $26 billion in direct treatment costs.
Many struggling with depression do not receive effective care, due in large part to cost, stigma, and access. In fact, 50 percent of Americans with major depression go untreated and only 21 percent receive treatment consistent with accepted guidelines
"Depression can be a very lonely experience — especially in the workplace where people often hesitate to let others know what they are struggling through," explains Dr. Abigail Hirsch, myStrength's Chief Clinical Officer. "People are increasingly becoming more tech-savvy and want on-demand access to healthcare treatment and support. Digital mental health tools are particularly suitable for employees because people can engage privately and find the resources they needed to effectively manage their day either in a few moments' break during work hours as well as 24/7/365 on their own time."
myStrength's digital resources uniquely provide access to evidence-based mental health resources – greatly extending care to those in need. And, through studies that bring both rigor and realism to the evaluation process, results show major promise for individuals who have had to deal with the stigma of mental illness and lack of access to appropriate resources.
myStrength, Inc. is a recognized leader and one of the fastest-growing digital behavioral health companies in the US. myStrength greatly enhances traditional care models ─ while addressing issues of cost, lack of access and stigma, to deliver mental health and well-being resources at scale. Our platform targets the most prevalent and costly behavioral health conditions ─ empowering consumers with innovative self-care resources to manage and overcome challenges with depression, anxiety, substance use disorder and chronic pain. myStrength collaborates with over 150 health plans, community behavioral health providers, integrated health systems and ACOs. For more information, please visit www.myStrength.com.
 January, 2010 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, a journal of the American Medical Association. The work was funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health, and the National Institute on Aging.
Page Updated Last on: May 08, 2017