COVID-19 has added a great deal of stress to people’s lives. Whether it’s the fear of catching the virus, the challenges in caring for sick family members, the growing death toll, or the financial impact on people’s lives and businesses, the number of Americans dealing with anxiety, depression, and addiction issues is on the rise.
In this episode of Brainstorm, Michal Lev-Ram and Brian O’Keefe look at the ways technology can ease the current mental health crisis. Joining them is Robin McIntosh, cofounder and co-CEO of Workit Health, an online rehab service that says virtual treatment is the key to increasing accessibility for people who need help. “Because what’s important to understand about somebody that wants to enter recovery,” says McIntosh, “is that willingness is episodic. So you have this magical window of opportunity, where you want to grab someone really quickly. Addiction works 24 hours a day; we work 24 hours a day.”
Also on the show, venture capitalist Hunter Walk discusses the growing number of companies in the mental health space. “I think you’re getting waves of entrepreneurs who grew up in an environment, we’re talking about mental health and wellness, [that] didn’t have the stigma associated with it,” he says. But Walk adds that investors should be wary of a growth-at-all-costs mentality when it comes to startups that provide health care services.
And discussing the ways her company is helping employees protect their mental health during the pandemic is Cisco’s chief people officer, Fran Katsoudas. “I don’t know if anyone was truly ready for what we went through in 2020. Our approach was to be transparent, to demonstrate listening, and to increase the communication with our people,” she says.
If you need resources or tips for talking about mental health issues, please visit MakeItOK.org.
If you or someone you know needs help immediately, there’s free assistance available around the clock through the Crisis Text Line—text the word HOME to 741-741—or call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.