Digital Mental Health Tools for Healthcare Workers Providing COVID-19 Care

Personalized, digital therapy tools to support and sustain healthcare organizations and their frontline workers.

Project Budget* - $2.5M

Partner Co-investment - $0.5M

Supercluster Co-investment - $2M

Project Partners

Project Overview

With COVID-19, healthcare workers are on the frontlines of one of the greatest health challenges in generations.

In “normal” times, healthcare workers already experience tremendous stress, anxiety, trauma, and depression from their jobs:

  • Burnout and disability claims were 50 per cent higher than in other professions
  • More than one in four nurses screened positive for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (26.1%) and clinical burnout (29.3%)
  • 23% of nurses screened positive for PTSD and 20.3% for Panic Disorder
  • Over 40% of Canadian physicians report that they are in the advanced stages of burnout

COVID-19 has added more pressures, including dealing with a highly infectious disease; increasing risks to themselves, their families, and friends; and, in some cases being the sole support for a patient dying isolated from their family.

The Starling Minds: Digital Mental Health Tools for Frontline Healthcare Workers – COVID-19 and Beyond project is working to deliver personalized mental healthcare to workers through a digital suite of readily accessible and interactive tools. This project aims to establish a strong foundation for healthcare organizations to safeguard frontline workers’ mental health, who are the foundation of a high-functioning healthcare system.

The project is led by Starling Minds with contributions from the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Genome BC, with project participants within the healthcare, education, market intelligence, and workers compensation sectors

The project will provide preventative tools to help workers with their mental health, both at the workplace and at home, as well as intervention tools to assist those who are struggling and off work get back on the job. It will be available via mobile phone, tablet, or computer in English and French.

Through workplace stressors, case studies, and therapy approaches, content will be personalized for healthcare worker. This better connects people to the right tools they need at the right time, leading to healthier outcomes for workers and their workplaces.

One of the platform’s key approaches will be cognitive behavioral training. By leveraging digital technology, users can easily access self-guided therapeutic support to better understand mental health and embed best practices into their daily routines on a 24X7, on-demand basis.

There will also be mental health assessment tools that can detect symptoms across the most common psychiatric conditions such as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Alcohol Use Disorder, Substance Use Disorder. The tools will be used to connect serious acute cases to counselling services.

Users will also have the opportunity to connect with their peers through a safe, confidential, and anonymous online community where they can share personal and professional experiences and struggles.

The platform has the underlying framework to evolve to address mental health conditions and stressors in a variety of professions such as teachers, police officers, firefighters, and public employees.

By leveraging collaborative innovation, this project can provide life-changing technologies to address the psychological impacts COVID-19 has had on healthcare workers and communities, now and for future pandemics.

*As of September 30, contracted amounts.

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