Finnish-based digital healthcare platform Meru Health has received 2 million dollars from the National Institute of Mental Health in research into digital mental health program. The company will benefit from the grant to carry out a study on 300 primary care patients who are suffering from major depression. This study will be conducted to see the result of its 12 week-long mobile app program.
Meru Health Receives $2 million NIMH Grant to Study Efficacy of Digital Mental Health Programs
The National Institute of Mental Health is recognizing the national mental health crisis with a new $2 million grant to Meru Health that will study the next generation of digital mental health care solutions.
Under the grant, Meru Health will study 300 primary care patients throughout the US who are experiencing symptoms of major depression, following them from April 2022 to March 2025 to evaluate the effectiveness of their 12-week mental health mobile app program.
NIH estimates depression affects an estimated 7-10 percent of the adult US population and roughly 14.8 million American adults experienced at least one major depressive episode during the first year of the pandemic. The prevalence of depression has also been increasing in the US over the past 15 years, although the availability of evidence-based care has not been able to keep up with the demand. In response, many people have started using digital mental health interventions to address their symptoms.
Dr. Nicholas Peiper, principal investigator and Meru Health’s Director of Research, says current screening tools, high provider costs and the negative stigma associated with depression has made it difficult for patients to get help in the past.
“The importance of this study is enormous,” says Dr. Peiper. “We are using gold standard methods to determine the effectiveness of the Meru Health Program. Conducting this study in primary care is also a big step because the majority of people experiencing depression initially seek care with their primary care provider.”
The Meru Health Program is a therapist-supported, digital mental health intervention for adults suffering from depression, anxiety or burnout. The program includes lessons and practices based on evidence-based therapy modalities, biofeedback practices, and daily chat support from licensed clinicians to support participants and build health habits for patients to tackle mental health challenges and prevent relapses.
Depression is Rarely Screened with Expensive Treatment Options
Research from NIMH has found approximately 49 percent of all patients with depression are screened and correctly identified, meaning the other 51 percent of patients battling this mental health condition are overlooked. The current treatment for depression, including antidepressants and collaborative care models, have shown to only have a short-term effects and are difficult to access due to high costs, long waits for appointments, and embarrassment in patients seeking help.
The Meru Health program is overseen by a licensed clinical therapist and a psychiatrist accessible on a mobile app, enabling patients to get help in the comfort of their own home. It aims to treat the underlying causes behind the long-term effects of depression. The program offers discreet administration to patients with the treatment modalities and approaches utilized in the program, validated by high-quality studies showing significant proof of efficiency, is unique among programs.
“We’re currently experiencing a national mental health crisis,” said Peiper. “Digital interventions can play a major role in addressing the crisis, so it’s important to build strong evidence. Our program attempts to overcome many barriers to care while making sure that even more people get better and stay better long-term.”