TL;DR: Mind Ease, an anti-anxiety app by Spark Wave, is strategically pivoting to focus on helping those experiencing panic attacks, a highly neglected cause area.
Our mission doesn’t change: we aim to provide highly effective, evidence-based, and accessible mental health solutions, and have an ongoing RCT at the University of Oxford.
If you’re keen to get involved and help our team’s work on cost-effective mental health improvement, we’re looking for partnerships, advice, and success stories (see last section).
What is Mind Ease?
Mind Ease is a mobile application designed to help users manage and overcome anxiety. The app's core feature, "Calm Me," provides users with a range of evidence-based exercises to help manage anxiety.
The app was developed by Spark Wave, a startup foundry with a mission to create software companies that solve important problems. The idea for Mind Ease was born out of a desire to create a tool that could provide immediate, effective relief for people struggling with anxiety. The app's development process has been evidence-based since the outset—from verifying the early prototype, to monitoring internal measures of effectiveness and the development of CBT modules.
We believe the potential impact of Mind Ease is significant. This independent evaluation estimated “that Mind Ease counterfactually averts 0.25 DALY per user” and up to “4.07 DALY per user averted under optimistic assumptions”.
Mind Ease has also been evaluated to be a promising investment from the impact perspective. This case study estimated that “an impact investment into Mind Ease averts DALYs at $150 per dollar invested in expectation, comparing favorably to GiveWell top charities before financial returns are taken into account.”
What is happening now?
Mind Ease is currently undergoing a strategic pivot. One of the biggest lessons we've learned is that trying to be an app for everyone suffering from anxiety made us too generic and limited our reach, making it difficult to scale. We've realized that we can create more value and have a higher counterfactual impact by focusing on a more specific anxiety disorder.
To understand how we can better meet the needs of people with anxiety, we conducted an in-depth analysis using a weighted factor model. Through this process, we identified a significant gap in the realm of digital health interventions—the limited attention given to panic attacks despite their widespread prevalence. In the US alone, more than 20% of people will experience a panic attack in their lifetime and as many as 4% will go on to develop panic disorder, suggesting a significant need for targeted interventions.
The digital health market has very few solutions for this population, and our current offering is already reasonably well-aligned with their needs. These two factors provide us with an opportunity for greater counterfactual impact.
We’ll continue to advance the same core mission—to deliver highly accessible and effective mental health support worldwide. With a new direction we also have a higher chance of reaching financial sustainability as a social enterprise.
Throughout this pivot, we have continued to be highly focused on effectiveness, as shown by our ongoing RCT with researchers at the University of Oxford, which shows that our ‘Calm Me’ exercises are highly effective at reducing short-term anxiety.
As we keep working on the app, we're committed to refining our offering, expanding our reach, and continuously improving based on user feedback and outcomes of studies on the interventions we offer.
Looking ahead, we need to progress rapidly and demonstrate significant results to establish ourselves as a social enterprise in the digital health space focusing on panic attacks. Business success will allow us to deliver effective solutions to a larger audience in a cost-effective manner — fulfilling our ultimate aim to share the app for free with those who can’t afford to pay for it.
This is a challenging endeavour, and we could really use your support.
What can you do to help?
We're reaching out to our community for two main types of support:
- If you have used Mind Ease and experienced positive results, we'd love to hear from you. Your story could inspire others and could be featured on our blog.
- If you haven’t used Mind Ease, but have a story about overcoming panic, we’d also love to hear from you. Your story could help others by demonstrating that panic attacks are more common than people think and that recovery is entirely possible.
Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you're willing to share. The stories can of course be anonymised before being shared further.
We’re currently seeking advice in several areas to help us to develop an effective tool as quickly as possible. Specifically, we looking for people who could share:
- Expertise in treating anxiety and panic
- Guidance on creating engaging apps with good UX
- Business advice on making apps profitable
If you are a a person with a clinical or academic interest in anxiety and panic (therapist, researcher, medical professional), an experienced UX designer, or have successfully guided other B2C apps to profitability, do get in touch. Whether you are only available for a quick chat, or are interested in joining our advisory board, we’d love to hear from you!
We’re also keen to get connected with:
- Business partners in the mental health space. If you run a business, organisation, or project in the mental health space and see an opportunity for collaboration with us.
- Journalists, bloggers, and social media influencers to help spread the word about Mind Ease
If you're interested in partnering with us or know someone who might be, please write to email@example.com. Your support can make a significant difference in our mission to help those struggling with panic attacks.