2021-09-09: Product Announcement
Today, we’re announcing major updates to the /Guide for Healthy Minds. And, as part of this introduction, the product team at Project Healthy Minds wanted to share some insight into why we set out to change the status quo of how hard it is to find mental health support, our process for building the guide in a way that’s both ethical and transparent, and the evaluation criteria we’ve adopted to evaluate current and future resources.
The problem we’re solving
When our team started out on our mission to shatter the stigma around mental health, we knew that our actions had to be as loud as our words. We found staggering data around the mental health crisis:
- 65 million Americans don’t get the mental health support they need
- Nearly all (96%) of respondents polled by PHM report experiencing anxiety in their lives today, with nearly half (46%) saying they experience it frequently or all the time.
- 86% of Millennials and Gen Z say mental health is as important or more important than physical health
When we looked a layer deeper, it became clear that there are challenges around access to care - starting with how remarkably difficult it is to get started finding help. Our team set out on a bold mission:
“How might we build a solution that enables people to find the right mental health solution for them in a way that is humanized, personalized, and rooted in sound clinical evidence? “
How our /Guide for Healthy Minds helps
New in this update, we’re providing support for two different types of user personas:
- One who can identify an emotional state
- One who simply wishes to assess solution options, organized by strategy.
Other updates include:
- Moving the guide to an entirely new tech platform that will serve as the foundation for future product development work
- Improved user navigation and function
- 70+ curated mental health solutions
Last but not least, we implemented key changes to our evaluation criteria for how solutions should be displayed. Working in collaboration with our legal counsel and our clinical advisory boards, we’ve developed evaluation frameworks and reviewed our copy to ensure we’re promising what we can deliver in a way that’s clear, concise, and helpful. (You can read more about these processes below.)
We very much believe that these new innovations will lay the groundwork for us to help more people in a simple way, so that all users of our product are quickly and easily able to find help for them.
Our plan to ensure we build this product ethically
On top of our mission, we’re dedicated to being transparent about how we’re building our product. This post is the first of many that will shed some light onto the hows and whys that are often kept close to the vest or behind the scenes. For example, one challenge we’re facing as a product team is that we’re building a marketplace product in a space that, so far, lacks standardized ways of understanding the outcomes and the effectiveness of digital solutions. In addition, we’re working in an environment that often (if not always) requires clinical input and situational personalization for maximum effectiveness. Because of this, we’ve been deliberate about the decisions we’ve made during our product development process:
- We review our frameworks with clinical partners. In our case, we are working with the NNDC as well as independent clinical advisors with decades of mental health and digital solutions experience. (Read more about our clinical advisors via the Team Page)
- We expose our evaluation criteria to our users as transparently as possible. These notes are part of that commitment, and details on our methodology are below.
- We specify who we’re trying to help and how. And we document known areas for continued improvement.
Designing Our Evaluation Criteria:
Our product team established an ongoing dialogue with our advisors in an effort to develop a framework that would fit the objectives of this product release. We identified several goals and several challenges:
- Ensure we have coverage for key emotional states
- Ensure we have coverage for key strategies
- Ensure that all products that appear on the PHM site are “kosher”
- Ensure we understand the display ranking of products and potential biases inherent to a default display
- Ensure the ways in which solution strategies are mapped to emotional states follows a transparent system
- New mental health digital solutions emerge every day
- Standards to understand outcomes-based impact for digital mental health solutions are still in development
- We don’t know what we don’t know
Due to the constraint of “not knowing the unknown”, we limited our research to coverage of at least 5 solutions per strategy type so that there would be resources available for all possible user journeys. The research to fill in the gaps is ongoing.
While personalization details are being finalized, alphabetical display order has been instituted as a default; we’re aware of the potential sort bias that inherently accompanies an default alphabetical sort, and we’ve determined that intentionally choosing this sort default incurs the least risk of any perceived “recommendation” of a particular solution. Google had early days, too!
On the goals around transparency in methodology, we’ve made more progress. Our advisors helped us develop frameworks across all fronts.
- First, we agreed upon the largest subsections of need that would be the core of our emotional state and strategy lists.
- Second, we reviewed and approved the mapping of solution strategies to particular emotional states.
- Third, we developed criteria so that each mental health solution could be assessed for appropriate inclusion in the product. Our objective here was to provide a way to evaluate if mental health solutions are fit or unfit for use (a “kosher” sniff test, if you will) and worth inclusion in the PHM resource guide. These criteria are as follows:
- Can this resource be accessed by users via digital medium (such as website, app, chat)?
- Is this resource available to users in at least 5 states in the US?
- Is this resource available in a direct-to-consumer model (as opposed to being exclusively a business-to-business product)?
- Does this resource have information readily available regarding cost and/or reimbursability?
- Does this resource have an active website?
- Does this resource have materials available such that the team can assess which mental health concerns and strategies this resource is intended to address according to the following definitions?
- Teletherapy connects users with trained, licensed mental health professionals. Teletherapy platforms should additionally have clear medical advisors or other information on how partnerships with clinicians are managed.
- Education provides text-, video-, or interactive training-based content to define key mental health vocabulary. Should cite peer reviewed literature for all claims.
- Peer Support connects users with non-licensed volunteers or staff who are trained in mental health support
- Sleep enables users to manage their sleep patterns
- Exercise provides accredited CBT OR provides programs designed to be used create, journal, or practice self-care activities. CBT providers should further have scientific advisors.
- Meditation offers meditation programs
- Therapist Directories allow users to locate licensed mental health professionals
- Helplines enable users to call or chat to a live, responsive support system