A Digital Emotional Health Program for Improving Overall Health
Author: Jon Brandon, PhD, Chief Learning Officer
Emotional health plays a critical role in our overall health. Without strong emotional health, we are less likely to engage in general health behaviors. Unlike our physical functioning, our emotional functioning is more likely to affect those around us. We have all had co-workers, friends, or others in our lives who are not emotionally healthy. While a person’s physical condition and health struggles may have little impact on others, low emotional health affects communication, attendance at meetings and social functions, decision-making, and a host of behaviors impacting the lives of others.
Despite the positive impact that emotional health has on overall health, there are barriers to accessing to appropriate services. A joint study by the Cohen Veterans Network and the National Council for Behavioral Health, published as America’s Mental Health 2018, researchers found that 56% of Americans are seeking or wanting mental health care for themselves or their loved ones, yet 74% do not believe that services are accessible, and 46% believe that options are limited. Barriers to emotional health services include high cost and insufficient insurance coverage, limited options and long waits, lack of awareness, and social stigma.
In an effort to improve access to emotional health information and resources, we developed a systematic approach in our Emotional Health Intervention Program (EHIP), discussed in our last blog by Dr. Aaron Quinn. Working with our Advisors, participants learn behaviors and strategies that improve emotional health. While a range of health behaviors (medical, nutritional, exercise) are also incorporated, a cornerstone of Album Health’s solution is our Digital Emotional Health Program, a 10-unit, e-learning program – that is assigned by our Advisors to each participant. The program can be delivered through mobile or desktop access and includes basic but powerful concepts from a number of psychological approaches. These approaches and concepts are real-world tested, grounded in what is called evidence-based practice, and are a distillation of more than 20 years of clinical therapy experience in observing and understanding the key ideas that resonate with people making behavioral changes. Participants develop a toolkit of techniques that come from psychological approaches including:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
- Positive Psychology
- Emotion-Focused Therapy
- Assertiveness Training
- Values Exploration
- Goal-Setting Strategies
Progress on improving emotional health is assessed throughout the program by measuring levels of depression, anxiety and stress, and our Advisors actively monitor participant progress on a daily basis through the Album Health app or web interface. Advisors are available as well for consultation and referral, if needed.
At the end of the 10-unit program, participants choose which strategies worked best and include those behaviors in their daily Care Plans. The Digital Emotional Health Program is not meant to be a substitute for mental health care, such as psychotherapy or psychiatric intervention. Participants in need of these types of services are referred to clinicians by our Advisors. Rather, it offers a set of tools for improving emotional health – tools that can be helpful to anyone. We think of it as emotional health personal training.
We have found that our EHIP reduces levels of depression, anxiety, and stress in clinically meaningful and statistically significant ways. Participants who engage with the Digital Emotional Health Program early and incorporate strategies from the program for longer periods of time experience greater improvement to their emotional health. The EHIP and its digital component are powerful, accessible, and private.
Thanks for reading and I invite you to learn more about Album Health and how our innovative, evidence-based solution is changing lives and delivering meaningful results.