Singapore-based digital health company, Intellect, which was founded in 2019, has recently launched an app that provides a new form of digital therapy without any human intervention. The personalized app transforms conventional face-to-face therapy into bite-sized modern self-therapy sessions at the user’s own convenience.
It tackles a variety of issues pertaining to the user’s personal behaviors, relationships, and work habits, through comprehensive month-long programs they’re calling ‘Learning Paths’ as well as more instant standalone ‘Rescue Sessions’.
HOW IT WORKS
While the app utilizes clinical methods such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Intellect emphasizes that the app is built for the everyday person to work on improving themselves, not just for the clinically distressed. According to Mayo Clinic’s Patient Care & Health Information page, CBT is a common type of talk therapy (psychotherapy) and can be a very helpful tool ― either alone or in combination with other therapies ― in treating mental health disorders, such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or an eating disorder.
Intellect utilizes zero-knowledge encryption to ensure that the user’s entire journey on the app is fully private and secure. This means that all user data is stored solely on the user’s device which no one else (not even the company) is able to access. Their priority is to make certain their users know that their data is completely safe using the app.
WHY IT MATTERS
In many parts of Asia, therapy is still heavily stigmatized despite the progress that has been made on a global level to increase the awareness and acceptance of mental health.
The main barriers that the Intellect team are trying to overcome are the high costs of therapy and the stigma that restrains the majority of people from seeking help. Most fundamentally, Intellect wants to build something that is easily scalable and accessible to the masses.
The startup already has multiple research studies lined up with leading institutions and universities over the next year to scientifically validate the efficacy of their approach and to further the field of digital therapy.
Apart from their consumer app, Intellect also works with companies to provide a new layer of employee benefit coverage for their employees’ wellbeing and mental health. The startup says that they are currently working with over 10 companies ranging from tech startups to a handful of larger MNCs.
The entire app is free for consumers as well as companies during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic situation, in hopes that their tool will be able to help those who might be in distress, the startup said.
THE LARGER CONTEXT
According to a study in 2019 by Cambridge, UK-based company Ieso Digital Health, provider of an online CBT service, research findings support the principle that CBT change methods help produce improvements in patients’ presenting symptomology. The findings of the study, which was published in JAMA Psychiatry, show that improvements are more likely to be seen if sessions focused on CBT change methods and less “non-therapy” content, such as conversations that were not related to the patient’s treatment.
In the UK, Ieso Digital Health is providing an online CBT-based therapy service to NHS patients with mild to moderate mental health conditions, MobiHealthNews reported.
ON THE RECORD
“There is a common misconception that therapy is meant only for those who are in dire need of professional medical help. However, common human hurdles that everyone experiences like chronic procrastination, low confidence & self-esteem, or trouble speaking with authoritative figures, are all issues that are mendable through therapy and working with a psychologist. That’s what we’re focused on building here,” said Theodoric Chew, Co-founder and CEO of Intellect.