The health club for your mind™: Scott Cousino of myStrength
A strategic partner with The National Council for Behavioral Health, myStrength offers web and mobile self-help resources, empowering consumers to be active participants in their journey to becoming – and staying – mentally and physically healthy. Join CEO and Founder, Scott Cousino, and our host Kristin Sunanta Walker as they discuss his platform, their alliance with National Council, and why Behavioral Health is a passion for him and his organization.
What is myStrength?
Similar to a gym for physical fitness, myStrength is the health club for your mind, empowering consumers with evidence-based, interactive web and mobile applications to manage and overcome depression, anxiety, substance use disorder, and soon chronic pain. Over 100 healthcare organizations have integrated myStrength applications to meet consumer demand, extend access to care, improve clinical outcomes and lower the cost of care.
What was the genesis of myStrength?
Matt Sopcich and Scott Cousino started myStrength 5 years ago. Both had spent several years leading internet services business—and in particular an online college—so both really understood how to deliver information online. The passion, though, was really driven by their own lived experiences with mental illness. Matt lost a brother to suicide, and in his 20s, Scott struggled with depression and was able to overcome his situation through therapy. The founders’ professional experience and personal passion converged to inspire myStrength.
What need is myStrength trying to address?
One in four adults struggles with mental illness, and most are unable or unwilling to receive care due to lack of access, inability to pay or stigma associated with seeking mental health support. As a result, mental illness is the #1 disability in the U.S, resulting in poor quality of life and tremendous expense to our society, with estimated direct and indirect costs of more than $200 billion. myStrength has uniquely transformed evidence-based psychotherapy models into consumer-centric mobile and web applications to allow healthcare payers and providers the ability deliver mental health resources at scale, greatly extending low-cost, effective care.
What do users experience with myStrength?
myStrength offers a highly-personalized, safe and secure user experience with a range of interactive emotional health and well-being resources. When users first come to myStrength they answer simple questions about motivation and the types of resources they would like to see, and take a short clinical assessment. myStrength incorporates this input to create a personalized home page with tailored resources designed to cultivate a strong mind, body and spirit. Drawn directly from evidenced-based or clinically proven psychotherapy models, users have access to interactive programs to manage and overcome conditions like depression and anxiety. Additionally, myStrength presents personalized wellness resources and user-defined spiritual or faith-specific inspirations if so selected. A mood tracker allows users to privately track their moods daily, and the myStrength Community experience helps reinforce that they are not alone in working to improve their mental health and overall well-being. User feedback continues to underscore the value of myStrength as an immediate resource for those struggling with distress and a valuable self-help resource to build skills and copying techniques to improve and maintain strong mental health and overall well-being.
Who does myStrength partner with?
myStrength offers significant advantages to healthcare payers and providers that want to extend emotional wellness support, meet consumer demand for online tools and reduce the overall cost of care. Over one hundred healthcare organizations including health plans like Aetna, Anthem, and Humana as well as integrated health systems like Carolinas HealthCare System have incorporated myStrength to enhance access to behavioral health resources and improve outcomes.
How do these partners use myStrength?
Core wellness offerings: Health plan providers have integrated myStrength’s health club for the mind to further address the emotional needs of covered members often overlooked in traditional wellness offerings that focus on physical health. myStrength’s evidence-based tools, consumer-centric design and secure platform provide members with a 7 x 24 resource to manage stress, anxiety, depression and substance use disorders, offering a whole person orientation to well-being.
Disease Management: General, non-psychiatric care annual costs for persistent anxiety or depression are 70% higher than for those not suffering from mental health disorders. Related, depression is found to co-occur in 17% of cardiovascular cases, 23% of cerebrovascular cases, and with 27% of diabetes patients and more than 40% of individuals with cancer. Healthcare organizations have the ability to enhance and augment traditional disease management case management by also offering myStrength’s web and mobile applications to covered members, to better manage co-occurring depression and anxiety.
Behavioral Health: Health providers are increasingly recognizing that technology is the ‘third leg of the behavioral health stool,’ adding self-care web and mobile applications to complement pharmaceutical and human interventional support. myStrength offers an efficient and effective treatment-extender for case managers, allows mental health providers to ensure a continuum of care between sessions, and serves as a relapse-prevention resource post-treatment.
Is myStrength Effective?
myStrength users consistently demonstrate a reduction in clinical symptoms and functional impairment, underscoring its value as a low-cost treatment extender. For example, a recent (May 2016) Aetna study showed symptom reductions in myStrength users’ conditions 3 times greater than the control and an overall 55% reduction in depression scores.
Scott R. Cousino is the CEO and co-founder of myStrength, Inc., a digital behavioral health company delivering innovative, scalable solutions for healthcare payers and providers. myStrength’s evidence-based resources uniquely empower consumers with interactive web and mobile applications to manage and overcome depression, anxiety, substance use disorder, and soon chronic pain. myStrength’s demonstrated consumer engagement, combined with clinical and productivity improvements, have fostered partnerships with over one hundred healthcare organizations across the US. Prior to founding myStrength, Scott was an Internet executive at Alta Colleges, a higher education services company offering associate and bachelor degree programs to more than 18,000 students. As President of the 600-employee organization, he and his team were responsible for the initial launch and rapid growth of Alta’s fully accredited e-learning platform. Prior to Alta, Scott served as Senior Vice President of Fidelity Investments, leading the Company’s South American offshore mutual fund business. Scott began his career with JP Morgan Chase and while based in London was responsible for the launch of the Bank’s European corporate trust operations. Scott has an MBA from the University of Colorado and a BBA with distinction from the University of Michigan.
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