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In any given year, one in five Canadians will experience a form of mental illness. And each week, more than half a million Canadians are unable to go to work due to mental health problems. One innovative solution is helping people with mental health conditions return to function.

Using the latest telemedicine technology, BridgeMed Health combines assessment and treatment, with a focus on CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy to expedite a return to work. With the click of a button, people can easily access psychotherapy and other mental health treatments, including for anxiety, stress, and phobias. The app and web-based platform means someone can see a registered psychotherapist through secure online video technology from wherever they are and with any mobile device or computer.

Taking the stigma out of treatment

BridgeMed keeps it simple for patients and delivers custom-designed treatment programs. The use of innovative tools focuses on what is most meaningful for the patient. It also addresses barriers such as  avoidance. You can live anywhere in Canada and have access to the service as each psychotherapist is registered with their appropriate provincial College of Registered Psychotherapists.

Mental ill-health is sometimes an invisible condition that people often hide from their family, friends and co-workers. With BridgeMed, patients can access the program at a time that is convenient for them. “We are redefining access to treatment,” says Janet Marlin, Clinical Director at BridgeMed Health. “It’s face to face treatment, without the hassle of travel and stigma of going to a therapist’s office. People who are vulnerable may not have the physical energy to get into an office, and thus may not receive the timely treatment they need.”

Combining tech and the human touch

In Canada, options for app-based mental health treatment are limited. While other approaches use technology and artificial intelligence, they are low touch and often self-guided, where the patient is left to figure things out on their own. And they aren’t getting the same results, as BridgeMed, which reports 80 percent of patients return to normalcy and most if not all of the activities that they previously enjoyed – with the added benefit of a new skill that allows them to respond more effectively to difficult situations in the future.  

“Some other programs miss the mark because the clinical piece is missing without the consistent presence of a therapist. The technology hasn’t advanced where we can replace the human touch,” says Dr. Sabina Nagpal, MD, Psychiatrist and Advisory Board Member at BridgeMed Health. “If it’s not done properly, there is a higher chance of partial response and subsequent relapse. Without evidenced based, skilled therapy, many patients will think they are have recovered, but then six months later they are back on disability.”

But it’s not just talking with someone, BridgeMed’s treatment plans includes interactive activities for patients that are facilitated by the BridgeMed app. This approach sustains engagement and measures patient success.

“For many people suffering from mental health conditions, there are issues of avoidance,” says La’Tarra Tynes, Lead Therapist at BridgeMed Health. “Our therapists can help the patient train their mind to continue doing and functioning, while dealing with the stressors in their life.” Frequently issues of mental health arise because someone is off work for an extended time with a physical injury. That’s why focusing on return to work is important.

Since its launch two years ago, BridgeMed has been working with insurance companies who cover short and long-term disability, but also sees opportunity in partnering directly with employers. There are a lot of Canadians struggling with mental health who are still in the workforce, which is contributing to absenteeism and being present at work, but not productive. There is a huge cost to issues of workplace mental health, not only from workers who are not well, but also the cost of lost productivity and staffing.

Canadians often wait a long time to get an appointment with a psychiatrist; with BridgeMed they can get help sooner and more conveniently.

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