Mental well-being and Noom Mood
Mental wellness or well-being is when “an individual realizes his or her own abilities and can cope with the normal stresses of life”. Unfortunately, millions of individuals around the world struggle with their mental wellness. In the US alone, 57 to 84% of adults have reported feeling very stressed or worried, and these numbers have grown during the COVID-19 pandemic. Feeling stressed or sad, or otherwise struggling with mental wellness, makes it more likely to experience mental and physical distress, health issues, and impaired productivity and attendance at daily work or functions. The burden of poor mental wellness on businesses, healthcare systems, and individuals exceeds hundreds of billions of dollars each year.
Further, many US adults report not knowing exactly how to manage their mental wellness. They feel they don’t have the time or the confidence to manage their stress or worry levels on their own or with the tools and structures they currently have access to. Noom Mood was built in order to meet that gap, providing structure and support (e.g., structured lessons and supportive coaching) that is scalable and generalizable (e.g., can be used by many different people or needs). And crucially, Noom Mood was built based on evidence-backed therapeutic techniques including Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), to ensure that the program puts forward the best and latest behavioral science.
At Noom, we find it important to not only base our products on scientific evidence, but also to scientifically evaluate their effectiveness. Therefore, after launching Noom Mood late last year, we followed academic (specifically, implementation science) standards for evaluating new programs. The general guidance is to start by assessing the feasibility (is this program usable?), acceptability (is this program acceptable to users?), and initial outcomes (is this program effective?) of a new program. In a now published study in JMIR Formative Research, we evaluated the feasibility, acceptability, and initial outcomes of Noom Mood.
113 new users of Noom Mood completed a survey at baseline and another survey 4 weeks later.
We found that the vast majority of participants found Noom Mood to be feasible and acceptable. More specifically…
- 77% said the program was easy to use
- 85% said that most people would learn to use this program very quickly
- An overwhelming majority of participants thought the program was acceptable, with 81% feeling confident to recommend the program to a friend and 79% thinking the program really will help to reduce stress and anxiety
In addition to seeming useful and usable, the program worked incredibly well. Outcomes as measured by scientifically validated questionnaires were as follows:
|Outcome||Percent improvement 4 weeks later|
According to scientific standards, these are statistically significant, large effects.
Additionally, we learned that Noom Mood….
- taught effective skills (e.g., cognitive defusion) and emotional management
- provided effective materials (e.g., evidence-based articles, activities, and coaching)
- encouraged active reflection (e.g., awareness of emotions and thought patterns)
- provided clear structure (e.g., a suggested schedule and list of suggested tasks/activities).
What else did we learn?
The results were strong, especially for anxious and depressive feelings – this, of course, makes a lot of sense given that Noom Mood provides evidence-based support and psychoeducation on recognizing, understanding, and replacing negative thought patterns. We were also pleasantly surprised to see strong effects for optimism, which we thought would not change much. Optimism is an overall positive orientation towards the future (e.g., “In uncertain times, I usually expect the best” and “Overall, I expect more good things to happen to me than bad”). As you might expect, optimism is related to mental well-being (and in particular, things like anxiety symptoms, stress, and depressive feelings), but few programs have measured this as an outcome. To our knowledge, this is the first mobile mental well-being program to show significant improvements in optimism. And we found that participants’ optimism was related to their other mental well-being outcomes, meaning the higher their optimism, the better their mental well-being (with less stress and fewer anxiety symptoms or depressive feelings). Ultimately, this means that optimism could be an indicator to keep an eye on in the future. And overall, participants got more optimistic on Noom Mood in addition to experiencing better mental well-being – all things that can help them to get ever closer to “realizing their own abilities and coping with the normal stresses of life”!
This study showed that Noom Mood significantly and strongly improved mental well-being (including anxious feelings, perceived stress, depressive feelings, emotion regulation, and optimism) four weeks later and was seen as feasible and acceptable. Now that we have conducted this initial evaluation, our goal is to conduct even more scientific evaluations/studies of the program – from looking at different outcomes (like work productivity and absenteeism) to using randomized controlled trials and longer time periods to more rigorously assess effectiveness.
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