As the prices of healthcare have risen, especially for people seeking mental health support, many folks have turned to the growing world of health apps, online support groups, and digital therapy. And as these options have become more commonplace, more versions are becoming available. A new app launching today, Basis, is a mental wellness tool that offers you access to trained specialists that can help you work through life's stressors as you need it.
The magic of Basis is that it allows you to connect with a "specialist" via your smartphone whenever you need. Yes, that even includes when you're on-the-go, or when you're stressing late at night. As Andrew Chapin, founder and CEO of Basis, tells Bustle, specialists are trained, deliver evidence-based approaches, and are overseen by Stanford psychologist Dr. Lindsay Trent, Basis’ co-founder and chief science officer, to ensure you're receiving quality care.
"Our specialists will listen to you, without bias, and then help you work through the issue in a research-backed way that leaves you feeling lighter and better equipped to deal with things as they come up in the future," he tells Bustle.
The app, which is available for iOS and Android, is easy to use, and has straightforward options for booking a session. What's more, it allows you to book again with the same specialist if you want, switch it up, or just choose someone based upon your activities for the day. The best part? A 45-minute conversation with a specialist on the Basis team will only cost you $35, and can be scheduled at your convenience.
Chapin says that he was inspired to create the app after struggling with physical and mental fatigue, as well as anxiety, that had arisen because of working two high-stress jobs. Though he tried traditional methods to cope with stress — such as talk therapy, yoga, and meditation — Chapin didn't feel as though anything was effective in a long-lasting way.
"I felt like there was nothing out there for me — the current options at that time just felt so clinical, and it made me recoil and disconnect. I didn’t feel like I had a medical problem, I just felt like I was in a tough situation," Chapin explains.
Like Chapin, many Americans have struggled with chronic feelings of stress. In fact, Newsweek reported in 2017 that one study showed stress, anxiety, and depression were at an all-time high in the United States. Further, 2017 survey from the American Psychological Association (APA) found that over two-thirds of people in the United States said current politics, money, and work are among the top sources of stress. Of course, life stressors can exacerbate existing mental illnesses or anxiety disorders — which an estimated 19.1 percent of Americans have, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). However, you don't have to have a diagnosed mental health disorder to experience the detrimental effects of stress, or to want to seek support.
"We’re trying to make to mental health care accessible for the everyday person: someone who is on the go, tight for time, and not willing to shell out $200+ for a weekly therapy session," says Chapin. "With Basis, users are also able to circumvent the stigma around seeing a therapist, because they’re able to book a session anytime, anywhere. A tough day at work, a fight with a friend or just wanting to vent — the challenges that come with being human — shouldn't be locked behind a doctor's office."
Though Basis is helpful for someone who needs to vent about work, relationships, or other issues while juggling a tight schedule, it may not be the best option for someone dealing with a persistent, diagnosed mental illness. As psychologist Jo Abbott explained in The Conversation in 2016, "Some people prefer the in-person dialogue with a health professional, and some types of therapy rely on that rather than the use of structured treatment materials." That being said, the Basis app may still be a great additional resource to those who need a little extra support, but don't feel like they need an ongoing therapist relationship for now, or who need a boost between scheduled therapy sessions.
"We want to encourage people to view mental maintenance the same way that people join a gym to main physical health, by providing a modern approach to help people feel better," says Chapin. By making services super accessible and affordable — without sacrificing quality or researched practices — Basis is showing what digital mental wellness care can look like.