Wysa, a popular mental health app originally founded in India around an AI chatbot that helps users talk through their feelings, has raised $20 million in a Series B funding round to expand its business on the heels of hitting 4.5 million users in 65 countries.
The all-equity round is led by India’s digital health-focused venture capital fund HealthQuad, with participation also from British International Investment (BII), the U.K.’s development finance institution. The plan will be to use the money to double down on its home market as well as the U.S. and U.K, where it already has respectively had approvals from the FDA and the National Health Service (NHS) and is used by the latter as part of its online mental health services. [Read more…] about Artificial Intelligence (AI) meets Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Wysa raises $20M to scale up mental health chatbot
AI Behavior Health Chatbot App Fast-Tracked by FDA (Psychology Today):
Recently the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted breakthrough device designation to Wysa’s AI-based digital mental health conversational agent that delivers cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) via a smartphone to adults suffering from depression, anxiety, and chronic musculoskeletal pain [Read more…] about AI-enabled chatbot Wysa receives FDA Breakthrough Device designation for patients with chronic pain, depression and anxiety
Six months after the $3 billion merger with Ginger, Headspace Health acquired Sayana, an AI-driven mental health and wellness company.
Sayana will expand Headspace Health’s ability to provide personalized self-care content to its 100 million users, executives said … Headspace leverages AI to power a significant percentage of the care the company delivers, [Russell Glass, CEO, Headspace Health] said during the JPM conference, including using natural language processing to extract information from the chats, to summarize coach notes and care information and to monitor for suicidality … [Read more…] about Headspace Health acquires AI-driven digital mental health start-up Sayana
The Digital Therapeutics Alliance Welcomes Decision by the CPT® Editorial Panel to Clarify Reporting of Remote Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Monitoring Services (press release):
As the leading international organization on digital therapeutic thought leadership and education, the Digital Therapeutics Alliance (DTA) welcomes the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Current Procedural Terminology (CPT®) Editorial Panel’s recent decision to clarify reporting of remote cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) monitoring services. The changes to the CPT code set reflect the growing recognition that digital therapeutics (DTx) are an effective treatment for patients with mental health conditions and physicians should ultimately be reimbursed for their time spent prescribing, monitoring, and supplying online CBT technologies. [Read more…] about The American Medical Association’s (AMA) to ease access to remote Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Monitoring
Welcome to a new edition of SharpBrains’ e‑newsletter, featuring this time eight scientific reports and industry resources plus a few fun brain teasers.
“Girls who spent less than an hour on screens and boys who spent less than 90 minutes on screens were not negatively impacted by it. But at higher amounts of screen time, their life satisfaction dropped significantly—they were less happy with their lives, and it got worse the more time they spent … (the) study also found that teens who got more regular exercise had greater life satisfaction and fewer physical complaints for both genders. Not only that, the effects were largely unrelated to how much time a teen spent on screens, so that if teens exercised more, it could potentially undo the damage to their well-being that went along with even six or eight hours of screen time.”
‘Obesity and depression are both major global health challenges, and our study provides the most robust evidence to date that higher BMI causes depression,’ said lead author Jess O’Loughlin. ‘Understanding whether physical or social factors are responsible for this relationship can help inform effective strategies to improve mental health and wellbeing.’
Let’s hope! — “I think Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) will continue to be adapted for more problems, diagnoses, and conditions. We will train many kinds of caregivers, teachers, front-line workers, police, and even politicians.”
“We discovered that the most predictive model – representing the most common mode of city navigation – was not the quickest path, but instead one that tried to minimize the angle between the direction a person is moving and the line from the person to their destination … Evolution is a story of trade-offs, not optimizations, and the cognitive load of calculating a perfect path rather than relying on the simpler pointing method might not be worth a few saved minutes. After all, early humans had to preserve brain power for dodging stampeding elephants, just like people today might need to focus on avoiding aggressive SUVs.”
“Designed with the help of Dutch academic Isabela Granic … the game is centred around an avatar who stays in bed for the day and aims to relax players by using soothing music, muted colours and self-care practices. Think meditative tasks such as word games and guided breathing exercises. There’s no way to win, compete or binge – in fact, it deliberately starts to feel boring after a few minutes of play, which disincentivizes mindless scrolling. #SelfCare was an instant hit, garnering half a million downloads in its first six weeks without any advertising…”
“What made this proof-of-principle trial successful was the discovery of a neural biomarker – a specific pattern of brain activity that indicates the onset of symptoms – and the team’s ability to customize a new DBS device to respond only when it recognizes that pattern. The device then stimulates a different area of the brain circuit, creating on-demand, immediate therapy that is unique to both the patient’s brain and the neural circuit causing her illness.”
“After initially indicating that Aduhelm could be prescribed to anyone with dementia, the Food and Drug Administration now specifies that the prescription drug be given to individuals with mild cognitive impairment or early-stage Alzheimer’s, the groups in which the medication was studied.
Yet this narrower recommendation raises questions. What does a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment mean? Is Aduhelm appropriate for all people with mild cognitive impairment, or only some? And who should decide which patients qualify for treatment: dementia specialists or primary care physicians?”
“With data breaches on the rise, the FTC is looking to make health apps more accountable for telling patients when their data has been exposed.”
Wishing you and yours a sweet Halloween and a healthy month of November,
The SharpBrains Team
Dr. Awais Aftab: What do you think the future of psychotherapy is? What would you like it to be?
Dr. Judith Beck: A number of years ago, a colleague asked my dad whether he expected cognitive therapy to eventually dominate the field of psychotherapy. He responded, “I hope good therapy eventually dominates the field of psychotherapy. Just good therapy.” My father has always said, and I agree, that if significant research demonstrates greater support for the theoretical framework and treatment of a different psychotherapy, then that psychotherapy should supplant CBT. So far that has not happened. To the contrary, as the years have gone by, there is more and more support for CBT conceptually and in treatment efficacy.
In terms of the future of CBT, I think we will continue to use research from other fields (such as neurobiology, evolutionary biology, and cognitive science) to refine theory and guide therapy. We will continue to seek out what treatments work best for whom under what conditions. We will have a stronger emphasis on identifying key processes to target core mediators and moderators based on testable theories. [Read more…] about Dr. Judith Beck on the future of cognitive therapy and psychotherapy