How technology is helping Mental Health – Interview with CEO of PsycApps Silja Litvin

PsycApps is an evidence-based Mental Health Tech Company that builds platforms for both patients and therapists.

We caught up with CEO Silja Litvin and a recent HealthTech Women event in London and wanted to share her story. You can help with her clinical trials by completing a short survey and you may also win an iPhone 6s

To complete the survey click here and good luck!   –   survey

SD – Hi, could you please introduce yourself? With pleasure – PsycApps is an evidence-based Mental Health Tech Company that builds platforms for both patients and therapists. Our goal is to educate and help people suffering from mental disorders such as Depression, Anxiety, Eating Disorders and many more.

With our Mobile Apps, users can self-screen themselves to see if they are in need of treatment – and if so, where to find help. We match our users to therapists specialized for their disorder and based in their vicinity. Pre-treatment users can use our apps to self-monitor and self-manage their symptoms thus adding to their life quality.

The therapist side of our apps help our therapists to manage patients, strengthen the therapeutic alliance and maintain client retention.

SD – Where are you based?

In London, currently South Kensington but moving offices soon.

SD – What is your background?

I am a Psychologist, completing my PhD in E-Health Communication portals about depression.

Silja Business Profile-min

PsycApps CEO – Silja Litvin

SD –Tell us how you came up with the idea for PsycApps?

PsycApps actually started out as a thesis and became a commercial product due to the very enthusiastic and relentless demanding of people hearing about it to offer it to the public. I could tell during the qualitative part of the thesis (where I spoke to many therapists as well as people who have been through depression) that there was a huge void between the needs of clients, therapists and having those needs met. Fundamentally the needs are very different, but there is the crucial meeting point: therapist want to help people, and people want to be helped. It sounds simple, but therapists are struggling in their private practices trying to maintain their autonomy while it takes the average client between 2 hours and 6 weeks (!) after deciding they need to see a therapist to actually have their first booking. Clients are simply overwhelmed. If I asked you now, what the difference between a psychotherapist, a counsellor and a psychiatrist is, would you know? Or what CBT, systemic therapy or psychoanalysis looks like? And most therapists don’t know how to do PR, where to advertise, or don’t have the money to set up their own homepage.

SD – How does PsycApps work?

The client downloads the app either for iPhone  or iPad , and goes  through a series of questions that assesses how high the probability is, that that client is suffering from a depression. That leads to a number of therapeutic features to help the client self-manage the depression to a certain extent. The client can keep track of his/her emotional development by monitoring the mood on a regular basis. Last, but not least, we offer a matching service to therapists in the client’s vicinity. It’s a smooth, intuitive journey.

PsycApps

SD – How does PsycApps differ from your competitors?

So far there are a few good websites out there. The Big White Wall has been doing great work for many years now. Our take is to adjust access to therapy to the modern user’s needs. We are going mobile first to offer a platform on a device our clients are very comfortable with using every day for almost everything. The nature of our app delivers instantaneous therapeutic help in the ultimate comfort zone: the privacy of their smartphone! Raising awareness and abolishing stigma in mental issues starts with mental health being a part of their everyday experience. And that’s just the client’s side: The therapist can request access to the client’s data, we offer easy scheduling and payments – significantly lowering the hassles of a praxis while upping the therapeutic relationship at the same time.

SD – What are the next steps for PsycApps?

Now that we have raised our Seed Round and are finishing our clinical trial, we have started building the prototype of the commercial version of our app. Very exciting times indeed. We start with depression and will add anxiety, burnout, addiction and eating disorders as soon as we can.

SD – What are your medium to long term goals?

Medium goals are scaling: making sure anybody who needs us can use us. Raising awareness and fighting stigma. A few weeks ago I went to see MP Charles Walker, who has been a huge advocate for mental health and we discussed how important it is to make it easy for people to reach out for help. Long-term goals are developing digital therapy tools that are more sophisticated and take care of low-level symptoms. Moving into prevention: catching our users before the struggle with mental health. Virtual reality therapy, corporate health and working with doctors and hospitals holistically… My wish-to-do-list is endless.

SD – How have your clinical colleagues reacted to you becoming a “tech entrepreneur”?

Most are intrigued! My colleagues at the Institute for Family Therapy were thrilled and overflowing with curiosity. They all expressed that they want to be on the app and wish me well. In general therapists are extremely supportive to other therapists: they celebrate progress and achievements. The only reason they would be wary is if we weren’t acting ethically or evidence based, and that is the first thing I made sure we do right.

SD – What do you see as your biggest challenges for PsycApps?

Getting people to know we exist: A psychological app will be much harder to go viral then, for example, a transportation or dating app. But I believe in people: they care, so they will share!

SD – What do you see the digital health landscape being in 2030?

I think chat therapy, both for medicine and psychology will be standard. Virtual reality therapy an aspect of everyday life. People will think holistically and be connected to monitoring programs via wearables and smartphones. We will be much more advanced in prevention and be able to react pre-emptive to orange flags. At the same time the WHO says that depression will overtake cancer as global disease burden no 1.  PsycApps is preparing for exactly that kind of future: we want to be there when needed – if not even change that prediction by offering great prevention tools!

SD – How do people find our more information?

You know what!? We don’t just want people to know more about us: we want them to participate in our ongoing clinical trial! We are conducting a raffle for our participants: 3 6s iPhones Plus go out to the lucky winners. All you have to do is click on this link and follow the instructions: its super easy and you are contributing to making the world a better place: PsycApps Survey  http://bit.ly/29ret6z

SD – thanks for your time. No: thank YOU. I love what Salus Digital is doing, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it!

PsycApps

THE AUTHOR

Paul Budd

Co-Founder and Business Development Director

Paul is an experienced sales & marketing leader within the healthcare sector and is a Co-Founder of Salus Digital. He is a Digital Health enthusiast with a passion for extending the reach of technology to improve patient’s lives and reduce the strain on healthcare services.

LinkedIn | More articles by Paul Budd

COMMENTS

  • Dr Knut Schroeder

    Great to see apps like these emerging that support people with mental health problems and address a problem – finding a therapist in this case.