Feeling Braive: Creating a platform to improve wellbeing

Ian Bolland spoke to Henrik Haaland Jahren from Braive about the iCBT solutions it offers, mental health treatment, the availability of care, challenges for people seeking treatment and what the Kickstart program can offer.

Jahren explained that he started using a basic iCBT solution while running a private practice in 2010 and saw first-hand the benefits that CBT solutions had for his clients.

“Every psychologist uses much of each therapy session providing psychoeducation and the general principles from CBT to clients. To a large degree, this is stuff that they, given the opportunity, easily can learn on their own. I felt bad charging clients for time I spend providing psychoeducation and wanted to make sure that we structured the treatment in a way that allowed them to learn what they could on their own, which freed up time for us to focus more on their individual challenges such as relational difficulties.

“Not only does this combination empower the client, but it also makes it possible to be more efficient in the time spent face-to-face.

After having used existing and quite basic iCBT solutions for a while, he decided to create his own platform.

Jahren explains how users can complete a treatment program on their own and that they also have the option to get support from a therapist to guide them through their journey. The clinician oversees what the user is doing, and they can communicate through a secure messaging system and via video inside the platform.

He said: “I decided puts the user in focus, with a modern platform to make sure that you don’t feel like you are entering a hospital, when you land on the page. Our main goal is to ensure that we put the principles from disruptive technology in to practice and build, to the best of our abilities, human technology where people want to spend their time and where spending time on the platform will be a good thing for their wellbeing.

“The majority of our users complete the courses on their own but we also work with hospitals, or primary care units where our users  have the possibility to connect to clinicians.

“We see that a lot of hospitals that we collaborate with take advantage of being able to speak to the user in the chats and also use video. Further, the clinicians can go in and look at what the user has completed on the platform so they can get an up-to-date, real-time view of where the patient or user is in their programs.”

New users of Braive first complete a ‘Mental Health Check’, a screening tool comprised of a battery of psychometric tests that allows for Braive to scan for challenges including anxiety, stress, sleeping difficulties and depression. Following the screening, the system will provide the user with a suggested program tailored to them.

Jahren explains how a five-step model allows users to build on their understanding of what their symptoms are and how to cope with them.

“If you’re thinking of CBT in general, it’s two general components there which is learning about why symptoms arise in the first place and what actions help to maintain them, and even worsen them, then learn techniques of how to deal with and approach certain situations and symptoms in a different manner.”

Jahren explains how a five-step model allows users to build on their understanding of what their symptoms are and how to cope with them.

“They gradually build their toolbox with different tools that they can later reduce (their symptoms). When they complete a programme with Braive they still have access to that programme and the work they completed for an additional five years.”

Jahren believes that a number of challenges exist across most European countries when getting access to care – citing Norway and Sweden as examples.

“If you want to get into the specialist mental health care centre you need to be above a certain threshold of moderate and higher depression and anxiety to get access to care.

“Often you can fall between too severe for primary care to be comfortable with giving you the support you need, and not sick enough to be receiving care from specialist mental health care.

“I think the main challenge with getting access to mental healthcare today is that we have a limited number of qualified personnel that are able to provide the care, and it’s a really large gap between those in need of treatment, and those able to provide it.

“Introducing e-therapy where you can speak to a psychologist is a new add-on to traditional ways but it’s not going to increase the number of available psychologists.”

He also suggests there is a need to reduce the stigma around seeking help for mental challenges and that increasing the knowledge and understanding of how mental processes affects our wellbeing and health is an important first step towards that goal.

“It is about time that we let Descartes rest in his grave and try to forget his unhelpful ideas of dualism; the mind and body is separated. They are not; all types of training affect our health, mental and physical. Similarly, they affect each other in a bidirectional relationship.

“If you break your arm you will not hesitate to go to the doctor, get it fixed and have it put in a cast. You’ll go out and tell people that you’ve broken your arm and you’ll feel comfortable about it breaking in the first place and that it is now on the mend.

“On the other hand, many who experience mental health challenges also feel shame or guilt for doing so. It’s like experiencing a mental illness is a character flaw, like there’s something wrong with you as a person, or that it is a weakness. Much like a broken arm, a depressive episode cause concrete physical and neurological changes in your brain and your whole nervous system that needs therapy in order to heal. One of the symptoms is that it puts a gloomy, dark lens to the way you see yourself, your future and the world around you. These changes are due to an illness, and there is effective treatment that can help you get back to your normal self.

“If you don’t feel OK, reach out for help. If something doesn’t look right for someone around you, ask them; are you OK?”

Braive currently operates primary in the Norwegian and Swedish markets, but does have some research projects and business in the UK. Jahren hopes the partnership with the Kickstart program can enable it to make headway in the German-speaking market.




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