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Modern Health’s Circles Break Down Barriers to Care

Exciting new research supports the effectiveness of our community-based care platform called Circles.

Modern Health is the first global mental health solution to meet all members where they are on their mental health journey and guide them to the right resources for both their needs and their preferences. When members first start care with Modern Health, we ask them how they prefer to receive care, because research suggests that outcomes improve when people are invested in their care. Interestingly, while most people interpret mental health care to mean one-on-one care with a therapist or coach, only 44% of Modern Health members new to the platform say they prefer to receive care one-on-one. That means more than half of new members are interested in alternative modalities, and Modern Health is ready to meet their needs—with a huge library of self-serve digital resources including meditations (like our meditation with Naomi Osaka) and digital courses on things like navigating intense emotions and building healthy habits. We’re also available to members live through provider-led group sessions called Circles

Our award-winning Circles honor our mission to build community while helping members with a range of impactful topics like establishing good mental health and navigating global crises. We reach diverse communities through sessions on Healing Black Communities, Honoring LGBTQ+ Voices, and more, with many Circles held in Spanish. Circles are available to all Modern Health members and are further tailored to the needs of the individual through three formats: workshops, discussions, or “listen and learn.” All Circles are designed to help members collectively learn, share, and heal, and in 2021 alone, we hosted nearly one thousand Circles with providers in more than 16 countries. 

One of the best things about Circles is that the group format tends to carry less stigma, so Circles serve as an accessible entry point to mental health care for many of our members. We’ve long suspected that Circles may act as an effective gateway to helping members seek and receive more care, and we now have exciting research to support Circles’ effectiveness in breaking down barriers to mental health care. 

The Modern Health research team analyzed our data during the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic to examine whether Circles increased U.S.-based members’ receptivity to and uptake of mental health services. For the study, published in the Journal of Technology in Behavioral Science in September 2022, we tracked platform use among 3,717 participants who registered for their first Circle between August 2020 and June 2021. Results revealed that: 

  • Circles are an accessible entry point to mental health care. While 50% of members had previously accessed mental health resources on the platform, 50% registered to attend a Circle as their first use of any Modern Health care modality.
  • Circles encourage members to seek and receive more care. Among all members who registered to attend a Circle during the study time frame, 64% sought additional Modern Health services after their first Circle. 8.4% utilized at least one session with a licensed therapist after their first Circle, and 11% used at least one session with a certified coach. 
  • Members have a significant interest in receiving culturally centered care through Circles. Sessions on healing for Black communities and Asian communities had the highest registration rates among those new to the platform. 

An overwhelming majority of study participants also considered Circles to be highly informative and useful—in fact, 80% of participants said Circles gave them useful skills and increased their understanding of mental health.  

Stigma is still a common challenge in the mental health care field, but Circles have proven to be a scalable, effective way to engage people who may not otherwise have accessed services. Modern Health is the only mental health platform with comprehensive group sessions that address a spectrum of needs, and now our new research supports the effectiveness of our approach in engaging users new to mental health care. 

Circles offer support to individuals and space to heal in community. Browse our upcoming Circles and register today. 

Cynthia Castro Sweet, PhD

Dr. Cynthia Castro Sweet is the senior director of clinical research at Modern Health.