The Scoop: Nearly 20% of Americans struggle with mental health issues, including anxiety and depression, but most of those suffering never seek treatment. The NeuroFlow app aims to solve that problem for individuals and couples by offering diagnostics for clinicians and trackers and activities for users to improve their emotional well-being. NeuroFlow also offers coaching and coordination for those with more severe and immediate mental health needs.
The United States is struggling with a serious mental health crisis. One in five American adults battled mental illness in 2018, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). The most common issues were anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder, in that order.
But only 43% of those people sought treatment for emotional problems, with men less likely to seek help than women. That means a clear disparity exists between those who need treatment and those who seek it.
A variety of factors contribute to that, including the stigma against sharing emotions — especially among men. Other factors are the shortage of trained mental health professionals and limited insurance coverage.
Former Army Captain Christopher Molaro experienced those issues firsthand when he returned from Iraq. In particular, he saw how difficult it was for veterans to find the treatment they needed. Soon, he came to recognize that people from all walks of life had similar mental wellness concerns.
That’s why Christopher co-founded NeuroFlow, an app that offers individuals and couples resources to help them maintain their mental health through diagnostics and exercises.
But NeuroFlow is more than just an app, it’s a solution to risk stratify and then direct users to the right pathway for their situation, including self-care, coaching, coordination — all based on severity.
Christopher and his Co-Founder Adam Pardes developed NeuroFlow to help people talk about mental health issues and expand the scope of treatment services.
“Mental health issues are episodic and chronic, and that creates the perfect storm of health issues — especially when they are added on top of physical health issues — that perpetuates the problem we have in this country,” said James Coates, NeuroFlow’s Vice President of Marketing.
And during the Covid-19 pandemic, mental health tools are more necessary than ever as people around the world struggle with social distancing, regional lockdowns, and economic hardships.
Using Online Diagnostics to Break Down Healthcare Barriers
Healthcare providers or mental health clinicians may also recommend NeuroFlow tools as a supplement to a patient’s mental health regime.
“When you think about where you spend your time, it’s at work. It’s in relationships. Those things can create stressors that both positively and negatively impact your mental well-being,” James said.
However, those people may not always know why they’re feeling down or anxious. NeuroFlow gives them the tools to assess the stressors in their lives.
For instance, the app asks users to track their mood each day. Recording how they feel helps them identify patterns and consider what’s elevating or deflating their mood.
Those tools aren’t just arbitrary. They combine with clinically validated assessments to drive the cumulative risk score which provides a comprehensive review of the person’s emotional health.
“This is a clinical-grade mental health solution. We work with insurers, providers, and veterans services. We want to get this in the hands of people who need it and we combine the digital assessments with the self-care programs to get a full picture of the mental health status,” James said.
NeuroFlow includes a unique gift card rewards system to motivate users, as well. To incentivize continuous engagement, users earn rewards for completing activities on their gamified To-Do Lists.
Its self-diagnosis tools can lead to strategies that improve psychological well-being, and the app can recommend specific videos, readings, and stress-management techniques.
“We’re all about revolutionizing the healthcare industry,” James said.
Suggesting Pathways for Restoring Mental Health
Once NeuroFlow users take the diagnostic tests and combine clinical assessments with self-care programs, they — along with their clinicians — can better identify an effective course of action.
Some clients may do well on a self-care path through which they work on activities to better their mental states. Some programs include journaling exercises and guided breathing. The app can even lead users through a 30-second breathing exercise that helps them calm down when they report feeling anxious.
“People like doing the homework of self-care when they can do it on their schedule, on their terms,” James said.
A large percentage of NeuroFlow are driven to the self-care pathway.
Other users are in the rising risk group based on their risk score. Those individuals need more coordinated care and are immediately put into contact with clinicians, social workers, or counselors if they’re not already working with someone. The tiered risk group system allows NeuroFlow to direct users to the appropriate pathway more efficiently.
“We take on the coordination of services. If someone wrote something in their journal, or are trending and showing signals of increased severity — we would want to flag them and get them the support they need, sometimes that’s us helping get them to the right support service, and we want to get in touch with someone as soon as possible,” James said.
The digital mental health revolution that NeuroFlow envisions has been pushed forward by the Covid-19 pandemic. As many healthcare providers have started offering telehealth options, clients have become more familiar with online solutions for their healthcare needs.
“There’s been an adoption of digital health solutions which has shone a light on the importance of mental health,” said James.
And as more people suffer from anxiety, depression, and social isolation brought on by Covid-19, the need for options like NeuroFlow continues to accelerate at a rapid pace.
How a Positive Outlook Affects All Aspects of Life
Anyone can have emotional difficulties. While circumstances and personality play a significant role, life events, including loneliness or the death of a loved one, can also exacerbate psychological problems.
According to James, leaving emotional problems unresolved can be a slippery slope in a person’s life.
“If you don’t treat the mind, the body won’t follow. Your body can deteriorate, your social conditions can deteriorate,” James said.
Relationships or life circumstances can create some unhealthy emotions that can be nearly impossible to identify and root out while you’re depressed.
“As you start to treat your mental health conditions, you can recognize that some of your relationships may be toxic or may or may not be what you want. There are two sides. When you’re in a good place, you can ask yourself, ‘Is my job making me happy or sad?’ ‘What about My relationship?’” James said.
The app helps users confront some of the problems holding them back from happiness. If they take a hard look at their lifestyles, they can often take easy steps to put themselves in a better place.
James and the NeuroFlow team are excited about where the tool can lead people. And with the digital health revolution, the team believes that everyone could start tracking their mental health using apps so they can access the support they need, when they need it.
“If we can create access to services for people to find support, that’s what we try to do. We’re very excited about where we’re headed. Ultimately, we think this will be something you see as commonplace in years to come,” James said.