The company that redesigns behavioral health for patients and therapists

With the sharp decline in mental health across America in recent years, the behavioral health space has been ripe for innovation. One company that has been at the forefront before the pandemic even started is SonderMind, headquartered in Denver. I recently sat down with Mark Frank, founder and CEO of SonderMind, to talk about how he plans to change the face of behavioral health care, what the future of mental health will look like, and how leaders can better support their employees during this difficult time.

Gary Drenik: Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, there appear to be countless mental health companies now. What are you doing different at SonderMind to help improve mental health across the country?

Marco Frank: We started SonderMind before the pandemic with a simple but comprehensive mission: to redesign behavioral health to improve access, use and outcomes. Of course, the pandemic changed everything: From a business perspective, we had to quickly move to offering virtual therapy, and from a social perspective, we saw a welcome reduction in the stigma in seeking mental health care. The pandemic has given us all a greater understanding of the importance of mental health because we have seen those health challenges in our families, our colleagues and ourselves. And many of us have begun to realize that mental health and physical health are one and the same.

We take a comprehensive approach to delivering high quality mental health care to SonderMind. We take an individualized approach to care that starts with using innovative technology to help people not only find a therapist, but also find the right online therapist for them. We offer both in-person and virtual care options from therapists who are committed to providing the best care for all individuals by focusing on high quality clinical outcomes. In fact, we investigated our use of measurement-based care, demonstrating that SonderMind’s clinical questionnaire engagement system leads to better therapeutic outcomes. We enable our therapists to thrive by defining care expectations while providing tools such as clinical note taking, secure telemedicine capabilities, outcome measurement, messaging, and direct booking. We also have our eyes on the future of mental health care and how we can make it even more personalized tailored to each individual, leveraging AI / ML technologies to better understand how to advance effective treatments.

Drenik: What are the current health system problems you are trying to solve?

Franco: I take the phrase “redesigning behavioral health” literally. We are embarking on the herculean task of solving systemic problems within the behavioral health industry and working with everyone involved, from therapists to insurance providers to individuals, to create exciting new offerings. Before the pandemic, I would have said that reducing stigma in seeking treatment was another priority. Now that we’ve seen a reduction in stigma thanks to the challenges of the pandemic and many high-profile public conversations about mental health, I see three main challenges we face. First, the separation between physical and mental health that must be eliminated. For too long the two systems have been treated separately, despite the fact that mental and physical health are inextricably intertwined. Secondly, there is a need to focus more on prevention techniques to improve mental well-being. Finally, mental and behavioral health care suffers from a lack of objective data to diagnose problems and measure the effectiveness of models of care. At SonderMind, we are striving to solve these problems, and others, through our integrated, supportive, objective and comprehensive approach to delivering high quality care to people.

Drenik: I read that SonderMind recently acquired Qntfy, a company that takes a data-driven approach to mental health. What does it mean to use data in treating a patient’s mental health?

Franco: The future of mental health care is personalized and unique to each individual, and the data makes it possible. At SonderMind, we see opportunities to integrate the data you voluntarily provide to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your therapeutic journey. Bringing Qntfy to SonderMind is a huge step forward in helping us achieve this. Leveraging innovative AI / ML technology, we are exploring the provision of end-to-end travel that can be uniquely customized for anyone, with the goal of leading the industry in helping people reap great benefits from solutions to long term for mental health needs.

Drenik: The Covid-19 pandemic has created a nationwide mental health crisis. Why do you think this was the case and do you think things are better today?

Franco: According to a recent Prosper Insights & Analytics survey, nearly 23% of Americans became more anxious and 18% became more depressed after the pandemic. And while these numbers are incredibly frustrating, I believe we were facing a mental health crisis here in the United States long before the pandemic, and Covid-19 brought it to the fore. Every part of our life has been subjected to stress and, on top of that, we were isolated in our homes, far from our traditional support systems and unable to engage in the activities we had historically used to eliminate stress such as traveling or working out in a gym. .

Unsurprisingly, health workers were also affected. This is my first thought as we think about how to support our therapists in SonderMind. According to the Prosper Insights & Analytics Survey itself, 26% of healthcare workers are more anxious and 22% have become more depressed after the pandemic. Our approach to mental and behavioral health redesign includes supporting SonderMind therapists so they can focus on doing what they love: spending time providing high-quality care to clients.

The pandemic has also allowed us to better understand our mental health needs and the needs of our family and friends. We can recognize and relate to anxiety and depression better than before. I believe that mental health care is the least invested area of ​​health care that has the greatest impact on our overall health and there is a lot of work to be done to meet mental health needs in this country. I am incredibly grateful that people see SonderMind as the way to get the help they need in a timely and cost-effective manner and therapists continue to see how much SonderMind enables them to be their best clinical self.

Drenik: Many of our readers here at Forbes are business leaders like you. How can leaders help address mental health in their organizations?

Franco: Tell me about it. I encourage my management team to lead by example in taking care of their mental health and continually checking with their teams how they are, both at home and at work. Instead of asking “What’s going on?” ask: “How are you feeling today?” If you notice that they seem stressed out, say, “Is there anything I can do to support you?” Ask them to use your regular 1: 1 meeting time to take a walk together and get some fresh air. There are simple things we can do that will make a big difference in improving mental health in the workplace.

Business leaders can also better educate their employees about the mental health benefits of their health plans, as all plans must offer the same level of mental health care benefits as they do physical care. Leaders have a great responsibility to encourage their employees to take advantage of anything that could help improve their mental health and must make this a priority goal in 2022.

Drenik: Thank you Mark for this insight and for what you and the SonderMind team are doing to improve the way we treat and talk about mental health.

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