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  • Writer's pictureHinton Magazine

New Mental Health App Halves Treatment Time For Social Anxiety

Meet Alena: The Groundbreaking Mental Health App that Halves the Time for Alleviating Social Anxiety

  • Alena is using computational neuroscience to change the way people access and receive mental health care

  • Focussing initially on social anxiety, Alena measures a user’s cognitive functions to provide an automated digital cognitive behavioural treatment

  • The treatment has been proven to improve symptoms in just four-weeks - over half the time of traditional talk therapy.

  • The team behind Alena consists of world-renowned neuroscientists and therapists.

Alena is launching to change the way people access and receive mental health care through a revolutionary new mental health app. With traditional mental health services often resulting in long wait times and a lack of personalised care, Alena offers a more immediate, real-time solution - all on your mobile phone.

Beginning with social anxiety, the team of world-renowned neuroscientists and therapists behind Alena have translated groundbreaking research into a product that offers an improvement in symptoms within just four weeks - in comparison to talk therapy which often takes significantly longer, and at a much higher cost.

Upon downloading the app, users are guided through interactive games that simulate real-life situations to assess the four cognitive processes that perpetuate social anxiety. Unlike traditional talk therapy, Alena targets brain patterns without the need to dive deep into past experiences or sharing intimate information.

Based on how users score, they are then offered a treatment plan based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) that works to positively alter anxiety levels, one brain pattern at a time. The science that underpins Alena is based on cutting-edge research, the kind that often takes years to find its way into mainstream society.

Co-Founder and CEO, Dr. Mandana Ahmadi, a computational neuroscientist with over a decade of research on the connection between the brain and mental health said: “The only way to treat the millions of people not receiving mental health care in time, is to develop a solution that is rooted in science and utilises the current advanced technologies to deliver cutting edge care in a scalable and accessible way. Our groundbreaking work in the area of computational psychiatry offers a solution to this problem.”

In a recent randomised controlled trial with 100 participants, Alena Users who completed the course saw a significantly larger reduction in symptoms than the waitlist group in just four weeks. This is a stark contrast to the expected 6-18-week wait times and months of in-person therapy sessions that patients undergo through the public health system.

Alena is launching at a time when access to mental health care is more important than ever, in particular due to the strain caused by the pandemic and the more recent NHS strikes. According to estimates, last year around 8 million people in the UK did not meet the criteria to receive mental health support and were left unable to access care.

Women, in particular young women, are twice as susceptible to experiencing social anxiety, which is why Alena is initially focusing on this target demographic.

Dr. Ahmadi continues, “Social anxiety is only the beginning of the Alena story. We believe the science behind Alena is condition-agnostic and can be applied across numerous mental health challenges.”

Alena is available for both iOS and Android and is offering the service for free until 31st March.

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