Surviving crises with smart mental health ideas from Hamburg

Four Hamburg-based startups present apps, online trainers and digital therapeutics at virtual COVID-19 pitch
09 April 2021

Four Hamburg-based startups recently presented digital solutions for dealing with mental stress as part of the COVID-19 pitch at the Gesundheitswirtschaft Hamburg GmbH (GWHH) and the eHealth-Netzwerk Hamburg. This comes against the backdrop of a pandemic now lasting over a year with many a crisis. This dire situation begs the question of how people cope when restricted contacts lead to loneliness, reluctance to depression and restlessness to fear?

HelloBetter - online health training

The "HelloBetter - Get.on Institute for Online Health Training" has come up with training online and mobile phone apps for coping with mental stress. "We offer self-help for all those who have no access to mental health treatment or who do not want to be seen as being 'in treatment' or those bridging long waiting times," said Karolin Mertens, Business Development Manager at HelloBetter. The online training courses are accompanied by trained therapists specialising in depression, stress, anxiety or dealing with chronic pain among many other fields. Backed by the Allianz insurer, HelloBetter holds a free online training course entitled "Calm through the crisis". The eight-week course provides problem-solving strategies for anyone who feels tense, depressed or anxious or is facing unexpected professional or private challenges.

Sympatient presents Invirto app

Invirto offers digital psychotherapy for anxiety disorders. The app relies on exposure training - confrontation therapy - in a virtual environment and auditory accompaniment by therapists. "Using VR goggles, a headset and a mobile phone, Invirto therapy can be done entirely from home and at one's own pace," said Christian Angern, joint founder of Sympatient GmbH. "The goal is to achieve a healthy approach to anxiety, such as agoraphobia (claustrophobia), panic disorders or social phobias." The German Insitiute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) approved the Invirto app, developed by Sympatient, as a digital health application (DiGA) last December.

Actitude for greater flexibility

The "Actitude" startup has come up with an app and video courses, handouts and podcasts for greater mental resilience in tough situations. Diana Huth, CEO of Actitude, who is a psychologist and media producer by profession, pointed out: "The name stems from the English 'act' for action and 'attitude' for attitude. Who does not feel burdened at present albeit perhaps at a pre-clinical level?" Actitude has devised the "Face Covid" concept based on acceptance and commitment therapy to help sufferers avoid that level of stress. The approach includes mindfulness, adaptability and thought defusion. "Face Covid" can be downloaded free of charge. 

Mindnet - E-Health Solutions GmbH

Mindnet - E-Health Solutions GmbH develops digital therapeutics (DTx) for diagnosing and treating mental illnesses and eases access for sufferers. DTx are software-based applications for treating illnesses and include digital content and supportive functions for patients, doctors and therapists. "Our vision is to bring digital therapies to people regardless of diagnosis, severity, time and place," said Professor Martin Lambert, CEO of MiNDNET. The company is collaborating with the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf and the University of Bern in Switzerland.



Health care in Hamburg

The health sector counts among the largest and fastest growing of the German economy and the outlook is positive. In 2017, the health sector accounted for 11.9 per cent or EUR 349.8 billion of the economy's gross value added. A total of 7.3 million people (about one in eight) work in Germany's health sector and the numbers are rising. Every fifth person in employment will be working in the health industry in 2030, according to the German Ministry of Economics. Hamburg is now one of leading health care hubs and is driving regional growth in the industry as well. Around 181,000 people are now employed in Hamburg's health sector.