CVS adds anxiety treatment app to its benefits lineup

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CVS Health is expanding their voluntary benefits to tackle mental health and anxiety treatment with a new digital offering.

The company added Daylight, an app that uses cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to combat anxiety, to its Point Solutions Management lineup. Both employer clients and CVS employees will have access to the app.

CVS looked to one of its existing partners — Big Health, the makers of the digital sleep benefit, Sleepio — for its newest offering. Daylight uses AI to make personalized recommendations on therapy exercises for users experiencing anxiety and stress.

“More than anything, the pandemic has put into the spotlight a second pandemic that has always been here: people not getting help for mental health,” says Peter Hames, co-founder and chief executive officer of Big Health. “We’re very excited to be able to offer a more accessible solution to many people through this partnership."

Anxiety is the most common mental illness in the United States, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Many anxiety sufferers find it negatively impacts their work performance (56%) and relationships with coworkers (51%).

Quarantine isn’t helping either; in a Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 45% of adults reported increasing anxiety and depression in response to COVID-19. But despite being treatable, only 36.9% of adults with anxiety seek help. Hames says the app hopes to address treatment and stigma around anxiety by providing easy access to coping strategies.

“Mental health is a 24-hour problem. With more people isolated at home and with telehealth providers overwhelmed, the need for access to evidence-based mental health support has never been greater," Hames said in a company-issued statement.

SEE ALSO: Mental health stigma still a barrier during coronavirus

Daylight provides users with a range of exercises and techniques, which are conducted through animated videos designed and produced by Pixar story artists. One popular tutorial is called “tense and release,” where the user is told to tense themselves up as much as they can, and let go. Mental health experts said in a video on Daylight’s website that this technique forces the human body to relax. In a recent study, Daylight helped alleviate anxiety in 71% of participants.

“[Daylight] is an experience designed to feel more like entertainment than medicine,” Hames says. “All the techniques we use you’d traditionally get from a human therapist, but this is more efficient.”

CVS Health plans to continue building its suite of voluntary benefits to include offerings that address weight loss, women’s health and metabolic health. The company already offers benefit solutions for heart health, diabetes, chronic pain, caregiving and mindfulness strategies. Early this year, they announced plans to develop an insurance product that will allow employers to cover gene therapy.

“Employers and other plan sponsors are increasingly looking for innovative tools to help people manage worry and anxiety, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sree Chaguturu, MD, chief medical officer at CVS Caremark, the PBM of CVS Health, in a statement. “Big Health’s commitment to clinical evaluation and research aligns with our focus on helping our clients include clinically effective digital point solutions as part of their benefits packages.”

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