Reaching remote areas
MyMind’s adjustment was more difficult for its clients, Krystian says. Many clients hoped to wait until the pandemic passed so that they could see their therapists face-to-face again, and they had postponed further sessions. But as the weeks passed, those clients and many new ones, distressed about the pandemic, have sought MyMind’s services. “We expected to finish May with 2 500 sessions, which is a success,” Krystian says.
MyMind is part of the alumni network of the European Investment Bank Institute’s annual Social Innovation Tournament. The network is composed of tournament finalists and other entrepreneurs selected to attend an executive training programme organised with the Católica Lisbon Business School.
The temporary conversion to a model that is all online has had unexpected benefits. One of them is that more clients in rural and remote parts of Ireland are able to get support. Krystian expects face-to-face sessions to return after the crisis abates, but probably at a much lower rate. “It might be a truly blended model,” he says. “Closer to 50-50.”
On average, about 10% of Europeans are seeking mental health treatment or support, Krystian says. “After COVID-19, it’s estimated that will grow to double or even triple that. This is the unfortunate reality. We expect the anxiety problem to really escalate in the aftermath.”
In anticipation of that need, the Irish government is working with MyMind and other mental healthcare providers to offer free online sessions. Krystian says this programme is important because it can help people in the early stages of any kind of mental distress.
“We’ve seen in research and in our own 14 years of experience that when a client accesses service in the early stages of mental health difficulties, they can rebuild their coping mechanisms much faster,” he says.