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Improving Asian mental healthcare with locally sourced data to maximize effectiveness

Joan Low, Founder and CEO of ThoughtFull

The landscape of mental health, especially in Southeast Asia is complex, with burnout on the rise, nuanced and sensitive cultural needs, and limited treatment options that address those cultural needs. Employees in Asia are under significant mental health strain, with 82% having a moderate to high risk of developing mental health issues, according to a recent report. This has placed local employers in unfamiliar territory, with a workplace mental health crisis they have not been prepared for, and with a mandate to act.

For many local employers, it is their first time implementing mental wellbeing programmes for their employees. For international employers, some resources are available but those resources are often designed for Western users and don’t comprehensively address the needs of employees in Asia. Infrastructure needs to be built from the ground up, hence, ThoughtFull was created to transform this landscape and bring about much-needed positive change.

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Based in Singapore with operations across Asia, ThoughtFull’s vision is to make mental health services seamless, accessible, and affordable in Asia. ThoughtFull partners with corporations, insurers, and healthcare providers to offer proactive and coordinated end-to-end mental healthcare. Thoughtfull connects with employees via a mobile application, ThoughtFull Chat, providing access to the largest network of mental healthcare professionals in the region.

Since its inception in 2020, ThoughtFull has grown rapidly to serve a range of corporate employees across the region, working in partnership with local clients such as Starhub, regional insurance providers such as AIA and FWD, and international clients such as Mattel.

Regional-first studies disrupt how data is used in creating wellness solutions

Understanding that actionable, localised data is necessary to create relevant, in-market solutions for employees, ThoughtFull works with a range of leading regional institutions, insurers and corporations, collaborating on research and development, efficacy studies, and technological advancements.

ThoughtFull’s most recent research achievement is a regional-first study across multiple demographics, conducted in partnership with International Medical University (IMU). It demonstrated the improvement of self-reported symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress, particularly among corporate staff and females, whilst using ThoughtFull Chat. In addition to randomised control trials which are considered the gold standard for measuring the effectiveness of new interventions, ThoughtFull also emphasises the analysis of real-world evidence (RWE) obtained from programmes conducted with their corporate clientele.

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As Joan Low, Founder and CEO of ThoughtFull, recently shared at the Third Singapore International Public Health Conference, “Real-world outcomes drive mental health equity. However, paradigm shifts are required to effect positive change and healthcare problems need localised solutions. Our starting point for change is understanding the real-world experience of real people. To effect this change, the ecosystem must come together. Through the depth of work that ThoughtFull continues to spearhead across Public-Private Partnerships, Research and Database building, we will focus on Real-World Evidence (RWE) and Randomised Controlled Trials (RCT) to drive better equity for all.”

Developing seamless and affordable end-to-end mental healthcare in Asia

Outcomes show this approach outperforms the industry standard. With Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) averaging one to three per cent as an industry benchmark, ThoughtFull’s average engagement rate hovers at just above 40%

Corporate client success cases include StarHub, one of Singapore’s major telecommunication companies, where ThoughtFull equipped 1,700 employees with end-to-end mental health support. StarHub’s leadership team was looking for a quality and impactful Employee Wellbeing Programme to equip their employees with the necessary resources and support to deal with issues of burnout, stress, and feelings of being overwhelmed.

In response, ThoughtFull provided StarHub employees with a holistic end-to-end mental health solution, including unlimited 1-on-1 coaching with a certified professional, curated wellness resources, and wellbeing trackers and assessments. Its accessibility allowed StarHub’s employees to access personalised support whenever they needed it. Beyond that, ThoughtFull also curated personalised activation programmes to help educate and empower StarHub employees with the skills they need to thrive in both their personal and professional lives.

As a testament to ThoughtFull’s services, Catherine Chia, who served as the Chief Human Resources Officer for StarHub at the time, praised the company’s dedication to its vision. “ThoughtFull is not just a business, platform, or proposition; it is a cause and purpose that the founder and team are driving — that is very compelling to us because we want to bring that same spirit to our employees. We didn’t want to introduce a well-being programme because it was a fad or because others were doing it, but because we genuinely care.”

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As a result of this programme driven by personalised, quality care, positive behavioural changes were apparent among StarHub employees. There was a 14% average reduction in stress, anxiety, and depression levels. By combining evidence-based approaches with the accessibility and personalisation made possible by advanced technology, ThoughtFull ensures that StarHub employees have easy access to a variety of care. Since launching, 28% of StarHub employees have adopted the ThoughtFullChat app, nine times higher than traditional Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs).

Understanding that affordability at scale also remains an issue for employers and employees alike, ThoughtFull became the first mental health company in the region to give corporate customers access to mental health support via insurers, partnering with AIA Malaysia in 2022. It also launched a similar partnership with FWD, a leading multinational insurance company based in Hong Kong, to provide access to affordable mental healthcare to employees in Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Thailand.

The app — which can be found globally on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store — is available in 12 languages: English, Bahasa Malaysia, Bahasa Indonesia, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Cantonese, Tagalog, Thai, Vietnamese, Khmer, Japanese, and Korean. Moreover, there is a wide variety of ThoughtFull Professionals working within the platform that speak over 22 languages and dialects through the “Chat” and “Video Therapy” features.

For more information and updates on their programmes and leading developments in the mental wellbeing space, visit their website or follow the company on Facebook/Instagram (@athoughtfullworld).

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This article is produced by the e27 team, sponsored by ThoughtFull

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The post Strengthening mental healthcare in Asia through local data that enhances efficacy appeared first on e27.


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