One-third of Americans have experienced high levels of psychological distress during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new findings from the Pew Research Center. It’s evident the virus is taking a toll mentally as well as physically. Survey respondents cited heightened stress from worrying about contracting the virus, to keeping up with the news, and considering the financial impacts of the pandemic.
A number of Amazon Web Services (AWS) customers are focused on mental health year-round but are now leveraging cloud services to scale up rapidly to meet increased demands, deploy new solutions, and offer free services to customers in need. During Mental Health Awareness Month, we’re shining a light on the important work they’re doing.
Online and mobile therapy app Talkspace, aimed at providing more people with convenient access to licensed therapists, reports the number of live video sessions on their platform has more than doubled for the month of March compared to February, and they’re up 90% year-over-year since mid-March. They’ve noted a 75% increase in clients with a chief complaint of anxiety, and a 50% increase in clients citing depression. They have also received a 125% increase in reports of difficulty sleeping.
In response to the pandemic, Talkspace has introduced a new Coronavirus Resource Hub with content from their therapists to help address the themes of loneliness, isolation, anxiety, and fear around family and work. They have also donated over 2,100 free months of therapy to impacted front line health care workers together with Michael Phelps and Talkspace therapists. Demand was so high, that all free therapy offered was accounted for within two months. They are now continuing this program by offering a 50% discount to all front line health care workers.
Global leader in meditation and mindfulness Headspace has seen a sharp rise in usage since mid-March when the news of this global health crisis steadily increased. They’ve seen 14 times as many users completing their “Stressed” calming meditation, 12 times as many users completing their “Reframing anxiety” at-home workout, and downloads of their app have doubled. In addition, they’ve noted communities forming and lifting each other up. Their “Buddies” feature, which allows users to check up on their friends who also use the app, has seen usage increases of 110%. "Live" group meditation sessions performed in real-time are up 70%, too.
Headspace has worked to increase access to its mental health resources, rapidly scaling up their AWS infrastructure to be able to offer free services. Most recently, Headspace announced it was offering free, one-year subscriptions to Headspace Plus (which grants users full access to the entire Headspace library) to all unemployed people in the U.S. They also recently partnered with New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, and Michigan Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, to share free meditation and mindfulness tools for people in both states, and have made Headspace free to all U.S. nurses and healthcare providers working in a public health setting.
On-demand mental health provider Ginger has noticed increased needs from their users, too. Their coaches started hearing about COVID-19-related worries during sessions as far back as January, with a dramatic uptick over the past month. They’ve seen a significant increase in coaching activity, therapy, and psychiatry since the pandemic began with a 104% increase in weekly active users, an 89% increase in the volume of chat messages with their behavioral coaches, and a 179% increase in therapy and psychiatry sessions overall. Despite this increase in demand, Ginger has been able to maintain (and in some cases even exceed) their ability to meet their members' needs using their artificial intelligence-based system, which runs on AWS technology.
In response to growing demand amid the pandemic, Ginger has offered free behavioral health coaching to front line healthcare workers, has made their COVID-19 in-app resources free and available to the general public, and has waived annual commitments for new employer clients.