I’m a fan of your mission at MindSite News and love that mental health in general is finally getting the attention it deserves. The level of interest from patients, insurance companies, entrepreneurs, and investors is unprecedented. If there ever were a time to rethink mental healthcare delivery, it is now.
Therefore, I was particularly dismayed by how your recent piece (A Digital Mental Health Revolution – But for Whom?) grossly misrepresented my company, Cerebral, as a “one-click platform for prescribing antidepressants.” Cerebral provides holistic mental healthcare that includes medication management as well as counseling and/or weekly therapy. Most importantly, we have demonstrated great clinical outcomes and increased care adherence across hundreds of thousands of patients by recruiting one of the most diverse groups of clinicians.
Cerebral tackles many of the other issues you correctly point out in your piece as major concerns for the field. For example, we take great pride in taking care of patients with serious mental illness, have demonstrated outcomes with bipolar patients, and are beginning to take on other challenges such as substance use disorders. 100% of our bipolar patients who require lab-monitoring receive regular labs. We are also working closely with insurance companies to emphasize preventative care for patients with suicidal ideation. We are creating new billing codes to ensure that patients are seen promptly after a hospitalization. We certainly don’t only go after “what is easy.”
I understand there is general and perhaps healthy suspicion about for-profit entities from journalists and researchers. That being said, I hope you remain fair in your questioning. For example, when academics you cite talk about what doesn’t work, ask them the same question you ask of the companies: What are their clinical outcomes? What are their wait times at their well-respected institutions? Average wait times often exceed 7 months (ours is 2 to 5 days), and the vast majority do not measure, let alone publish, their outcomes.
Patients who are willing to pay $300 an hour or more jump the line while the rest suffer. During training, I once dared to ask for evidence that a specific therapy was effective, and was told by a prominent Harvard psychiatrist, “your evidence-based psychiatry ideas are all bullshit, we don’t need to measure things here.” This field is not healthy, and innovation is part of the solution. I consider myself a clinician first, and I trust that we share the same global mission of moving the field of mental healthcare forward for patients. I do hope we focus on what matters the most: quick access to care and excellent clinical improvement for patients. Thanks for listening.
David Mou, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Cerebral