City’s Department of Health announces COVID-19 mental health study

Achievement user (the platform powering the study), pointing at their Fitbit (one of many types of wearables that can be used in study participation)
Photo courtesy of Evidation Health

During COVID-19, being shuttered at home, laid off from work, socially isolated, becoming ill and are dealing with the loss of loved ones may be difficult for those dealing with depression and anxiety.

On May 6, NYC’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene announced it is collaborating with Evidation Health, a health and measurement company and Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine, on a nationwide study to understand and uncover the mental health impact of the pandemic.

The study will collect self-reported symptoms as well as movement, sleep and heart rate data from health trackers and smartphones from tens of thousands of individuals across the country. The data will be made available to public health officials, researchers and other interested parties, who will have the opportunity to make data or collaboration requests.

“There is a silent pandemic of anxiety, stress, and depression that is running alongside the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Luca Foschini, co-founder and chief data scientist of Evidation. “With this study, we hope to understand the contours of the mental health impact of this extraordinary situation and how it interacts with people’s physical health.”

Powering this study will be Evidation’s proprietary platform, Achievement, and its member base of more than 3.7 million Americans. All adults in the U.S. are eligible to participate. More information on enrollment is available at evidation.com/covid2020.

Previous research by Evidation has shown that 50 percent of people nationwide are reporting increased anxiety over the previous week, up from a starting point of 29 percent in mid-March, when the federal emergency was first declared. Forty-five percent of respondents with anxiety and depression have reported being worried about seeking necessary care that is unrelated to coronavirus.

“The anxiety, grief and strain that COVID-19 is putting on New Yorkers must be better understood so that we can provide the right support for people throughout the five boroughs,” said NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “This study will help us gain a deeper understanding of behavioral health needs that can be translated into stronger mental health support for our city.”

In addition to providing insights into the impact of COVID-19 on mental health, the study has been designed to gather symptom data that will be contributed to Boston Children’s Hospital’s COVID Near You symptom tracker program. Participants will complete the survey daily for five months and the study data will also be made available to public health officials, researchers and other interested parties, who will have the opportunity to make data or collaboration requests.

Visit evidation.com/covid19-data to participate.

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