Address Workplace Stress with Help from a Digital Coaching Program

May 29, 2013
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stress relief

Originally published on MedCityNews.

Life is busy, work is hard, money is tight and there’s never enough time in the day. That’s the reality for many people, and it’s causing what meQuilibrium calls the epidemic of the 21st century: stress.

stress relief

Originally published on MedCityNews.

Life is busy, work is hard, money is tight and there’s never enough time in the day. That’s the reality for many people, and it’s causing what meQuilibrium calls the epidemic of the 21st century: stress.

“What we’re passionate about is what we think is the next piece of healthcare that hasn’t been addressed at scale, which is proactive mental wellbeing,” said Linda Natansohn, head of corporate development for the Boston startup.

Stress has been linked to diabetes and heart disease, for starters, and to absenteeism and reduced productivity at work. meQuilibrium is a digital coaching system based on cognitive behavioral therapy and integrative medicine. It’s designed to help people pinpoint the causes of stress in their lives that are making them behave in unhealthy ways, and then address those points specifically.

It came to life in 2010 when founder Jan Bruce, former publisher of body+soul/whole living, got together with Andrew Shatté,  a psychologist and expert in stress, to digitize a program he had created to help people develop psychological resilience. Dr. Adam Perlman, the other co-creator, brought the expertise of a doctor specializing in internal medicine.

meQ’s program starts with an in-depth assessment of an individual across four levels: mind, body, surroundings and connection. It then builds a personalized plan based on the stress factors determined by the assessment. Users work through a series of skill-building modules, many of them video-based, that have been selected for them. As they progress, they can track their progress through continued assessments, which produce a Balance Quotient.

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Natansohn said the program combines the personalization of a professional coach with the affordability of an online solution. It’s sold directly to consumers on a subscription basis, and to companies and organizations looking to improve wellness and productivity among their workforces. The data aggregation components gives organization leaders insight into the top stressors and productivity inhibitors of their employees, so they can take appropriate action.

The company’s first customer was a hospital going through a merger, and Natansohn said she sees other applications in healthcare, both on the corporate side (two out of five doctors experience burnout) and the patient side. “One of the things we can envision is the program being used as patients are preparing before an operation, or maybe as their spouse is preparing, too,” she said.

There are other startups in this space – SOMA Analytics, Azumio and AboveStress, to name a few.  meQ has additional validation from venture backing: Chrysalis Ventures, RIME Communications Capital and individual investors put $2.3 million into the company in 2011.