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Scouting Report-Sharecare: Launching Unwinding, Evidence-Based Tools for Mental Health

The Driver:

Sharecare, a digital health and wellness company, has announced the launch of Unwinding on its platform. Unwinding is an evidence-based mental wellness app designed to help people alleviate stress, demystify the mind’s complexity, and overall build a healthier lifestyle. The app employs evidence-based mindfulness techniques and applies world-renowned neuroscience research. Other offerings of the app include digital therapeutics such as “Eat Right Now”, and a mini-master class on relieving financial stress in partnership with Mint, an Intuit personal finance app.

Key Takeaways:

  • According to “Mental Health in America,” about 20% of adults in the U.S. experience mental illness, including 47M with anxiety and 18M with depression.

  • Nearly 2 in 3 adults report that money is a significant source of stress in their life.

  • 62% of missed workdays in the U.S. are due to mental health conditions at a cost of $3,500-$4,600/yr. per employee (National Alliance on Mental Illness).

  • Sharecare will offer Unwinding at $35.99 for one year initially; a discount to its regular annual subscription price of $59.99.

The Story:

Jeff Arnold (founder/CEO of WebMD, HowStuffWorks) and Dr. Mehmet Oz founded Sharecare in 2012 to fix the U.S fragmented U.S. healthcare system. Sharecare was created to provide a holistic platform where patients can easily connect with health providers and get the needed care or information in good time. Sharecare’s management refers to the platform as a powerful health connector that has linked millions of people across the U.S health system. Through Sharecare’s platform, patients access multiple expert perspectives on health and wellness and are furnished with information to foster health literacy. For Sharecare the goal is to empower patients with relevant and timely information that empowers them to make smart health choices.

Unwinding teaches patients simple ways to use mindful awareness in their health journey with access to resources that support that journey. According to the company’s website, these include: “science-based mini-master classes to improve overall well-being to lower stress and gain good habits, [and] exclusive live, monthly events with Dr. Jud Brewer the executive medical director of behavioral health at Sharecare (and the director of research and innovation at the Mindfulness Center and associate professor in psychiatry at the School of Medicine at Brown University). The company also notes that the app gives patients access to “100+ in-the-moment and personalized stress reduction tools such as guided meditations, breathing exercises, and mindfulness practices, as well as a library of exclusive, award-winning videos to promote relaxation and restful sleep.” Research has shown that stress can contribute to headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety. Consequently, relieving stress is essential for preventing numerous health issues. For example, a 2020 study examining whether app-based mindfulness training can reduce anxiety in physicians published in JMIR mHealth found that they can help relieve physiological stress and anxiety. However, a separate study found that similar apps may have been used less frequently than developers intended. As a result, the second study recommended more research to help increase user engagement and effectiveness.

The Unwinding app in collaboration with Mint provides interactive courses on personal finance and the proper management of money, which is significant considering that finance is a main cause of stress. The app is available on the App Store or Google Play, for a special, limited-time price of $35.99 for one year; the regular price is $59.99 for an annual subscription.

The Differentiators:

Unlike other mental wellness apps, Unwinding is not a meditation app. Instead, it provides a range of tools and strategies that helps users navigate their mental well-being journey. Recognizing the uniqueness of each users’ mental well-being journey, Unwinding provides a roadmap for the individual user based on clinical research. It uses predictive question functionality based on keywords to guide users in finding answers to their mental health needs on the site. Unwinding also provides patients with useful information for addressing stress triggers like personal finances and other social determinants of health. This is crucial in making the connection between mental and physical stress, as people living with chronic stress have their life expectancy shortened by almost 3 years. Unwinding allows people to manage their mental health and deal with stress all from the touch of their phone.

The Big Picture:

Mental wellness apps like Unwinding that apply evidence-based tools and strategies are aimed at reducing the mental health stressors that can lead to more severe conditions like anxiety, depression, and even suicide if left unaddressed. With improved healthcare literacy and greater access to relevant information, patients can become more proactive in managing their mental well-being. The data from Unwinding’s technology will furnish health systems with information that will help provide patients with the needed support to take ownership of their health. Improved patient engagement with healthcare services and information could lead to improved patient and health system outcomes. In addition, apps like Unwinding may be able to help provide some coping skills to people with some more serious forms of mental illness helping to avoid negative outcomes such as suicide. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death, and studies have shown an increased risk for people with mental health conditions.


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