One in five adults in America experienced a mental health issue last year, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Meanwhile, one in 10 people under the age of 18 went through a period of major depression in 2014. Despite the prevalence of mental health issues among both children and adults in the U.S., less than 20 percent of children and 44 percent of adults get treated.
Lantern, a mental health startup that has raised $4.4 million, aims to provide an accessible and more affordable option, and it just launched a new program for stress. In addition to stress, Lantern offers programs for anxiety and body image. When you first sign up for Lantern, you’ll take an assessment that will determine which of its three tracks is best for you. All of Lantern’s programs are based on cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, which examines the relationship between thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
The programs, which are available on web and iOS, are designed to empower people to learn how to manage their anxiety, stress and/or body images on a daily basis. Lantern coaches, who are experienced behavioral change professionals trained in CBT, guide patients through the programs, give them feedback and help keep them accountable for reaching their goals.
Lantern offers a seven-day, no-commitment, free trial. After that, it costs $49 a month, which is a lot less than what I pay for therapy. Over the last three weeks, I was able to try out Lantern’s stress program. I’d like to say I walked away feeling totally free of stress, but that wouldn’t be true — partly, and most likely, because I didn’t finish the full program. The program typically takes about eight to 10 weeks to complete, depending on how often you do your daily sessions. Lantern also recommends having at least one phone call with your coach shortly after you start the program, but the thought of doing that caused stress for me — it just felt like another thing to do —so I never got around to scheduling a call with my coach. That being said, I did take advantage of the unlimited messaging with her via Lantern’s web app.
During my two-week trial, I completed 1.5 units out of 14. The program starts with “Introduction to Stress,” which covers topics like stress cue and the science of breathing, as well as techniques like muscle relaxation and deep breathing. The other units cover mindfulness, reducing stress behaviors, managing emotions, automatic thoughts and more.
In the next year, Lantern hopes to offer additional programs around interpersonal relationships and mood disorders like depression. It also plans to sign on several more enterprise clients, like universities and employers, in the next three months.
“Given what we are seeing from employers and insurers, more entities are focusing more on the established connection between our physical and mental health,” Lantern Founder Alejandro Foung told TechCrunch. “I think in a year, it will start to become more commonplace for insurers and employers to offer holistic benefits because we can demonstrate that people who are emotionally better off and more resilient actually are healthier physically.”