What kind of sparks can a person with a double bachelor’s degree in computer science and mathematics from Huawei Normal University, who has worked for 7 years in Huawei, make with the mental health service industry?
In 2014, Zhang Yu returned to China after working in Huawei’s overseas business division. At that time, all industries were in the midst of the “Internet+” wave. The lack of accessibility and convenience of quality healthcare amidst the wave gave Zhang Yu a big impact – whether he could use the power of technology to do something for the domestic healthcare industry became the first thing he thought about after returning to China. Later, Zhang Yu founded a SaaS platform for primary care information technology, and gradually came into contact with mental health service products in the process of starting his own business.
While the country has successively introduced policies to lay a good policy foundation for the development of the domestic psychological service industry, the base of people with psychological problems in China is also rising.
According to the “White Paper on Mental Health of Chinese Urban Residents” released in 2018, nearly 230 million residents in China have different degrees of psychological problems, and among the over 200 million people with psychological problems, the incidence of anxiety disorders and depression is the highest, at 4.98% and 3.59%, which has become the largest proportion of psychiatric outpatients, and there is a clear trend of climbing. Taking depression as an example, according to the China National Mental Health Development Report (2019-2020) released by the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2021, the national average of depression population is about 17%, which has increased more than five times in four years compared with 3.59% in 2018.
Therefore, under the vigorous promotion of policies and the rapid growth of market demand, the domestic mental health service industry began to flourish. However, at the same time, there are still many difficulties in the development of the supply side of psychological services. The shortage of mental health service resources is one of them.
In addition, the accessibility and effectiveness of traditional mental health services need to be greatly improved due to traditional concepts and technical resources, and there are many difficulties in the development of mental health services in schools, institutions, mental health centers at all levels, psychiatric hospitals, general hospitals, and social management centers.
Take school mental health services as an example, some experts show that there is a lack of emphasis on school mental health education, which is only at the level of “shouting slogans”, a lack of professionalism, a lack of psychological teacher training system, a lack of formal and systematic professional training of mental health education knowledge and skills, a lack of timely crisis identification, a lack of systematic curriculum system, and a lack of rigorous post-tracking. The pain points of the problem are: the lack of formal and systematic training of mental health education knowledge and skills, the lack of timely crisis identification, the lack of a systematic curriculum, the lack of rigorous post-tracking, etc. Ceetree Health is targeting this opportunity.
As mentioned earlier, Ceetree Health’s positioning can be summarized in one simple sentence – “an expert in intelligent, digital, immersive mental health hardware and software products and services”, but Ceetree However, Ceetree Health’s products and services are a bit complicated.
Specifically, for municipal and district mental health centers and psychiatric hospitals, Ceetree Health will provide a psychosocial service cloud platform to realize the whole process of psychosocial services and also realize the interconnection of mental health data and the collection of service resources within the regional platform to enhance the accessibility of psychosocial services.
According to Zhang Yu, the core work of the mental health center consists of four main areas: first, mental health and science popularization; second, mental health screening mainly for anxiety, depression and insomnia; third, mental health care for the elderly, maternity and other specific groups; and fourth, the construction of a whole process service system of screening, consultation, management and follow-up. Ceetree Health’s psychological service cloud platform can help mental health centers and psychiatric hospitals at all levels to complete the above functions.
In addition, Ceetree Health will also provide mental health centers at all levels with a supplementary management system for patients with severe mental illness to improve patient compliance with medication and digitize the review process for emergency hospitalization.
“Previously, the management of severely mentally ill patients in most regions was simple and largely manual. The majority of these patients received their medications on paper. However, Ceetree Health’s Severe Mental Illness Assist Management System can improve patient compliance by providing regular medication reminders through patients’ cell phones and family members’ cell phones. It also allows patients to report their subsidies directly through a digital ticket management system, which is much less time-consuming and easier than the previous manual review process.” Zhang Yu said.
For hospitals, Ceetree Health has launched a CT system for intelligent psychological assessment and a SaaS system for psychological assessment to help hospitals and departments generate revenue; as for city-district-hospitals and social management centers, Ceetree Health has launched a product for intelligent social health mental health service system, which can realize standardized and unified management of regional grassroots mental health services and help grassroots public health improve the efficiency of mental health services, enhance service capacity and expand service radius.
In addition, schools are also the key service targets of Ceetree Health. For education bureaus, primary and secondary schools, middle and high schools, and universities, Ceetree Health has launched a smart campus mental health service system to support the construction of a “home-school-medical-social” linkage service system.
Specifically, Ceetree Health’s Smart Campus Mental Health Service System assists in the completion of student psychological screening and establishes a mechanism for graded management of students based on the screening results. For example, for high-risk students, the mechanism will conduct case interviews, group counseling, parent interviews or referrals to professional counseling agencies based on the actual situation of the students.
It should be noted that in order to address the pain points of mental health education, such as the lack of formal and systematic professional training in mental health education knowledge and skills, and the lack of a systematic curriculum, Ceetree Health has also launched a campus mental health education support teaching system for primary and secondary schools, providing them with standardized online psychological education courses, lesson plans, and psychological drama scripts.
In addition, Ceetree Health’s service targets include provincial-municipal general labor unions and psychological counseling institutions or outpatient agencies. For the former, a big data platform for workers’ mental health services has been launched to help them realize the construction of unified standards for workers’ mental health data, the collection of service resources, the digitalization of supervision and management, and the enhancement of the accessibility of workers’ psychological services. For the latter, Ceetree Health has developed a mental health service applet to help it improve its customer acquisition and attraction capability, mental health service capability and service radius.
In addition to the various software systems mentioned above, Ceetree Health has also established a partnership with Professor Ren Zhihong, a doctoral supervisor at the School of Psychology of Huazhong Normal University, and dozens of well-known psychological teachers from primary and secondary schools across China to develop a mental health education training curriculum for primary and secondary schools in response to the lack of resources and uneven quality of psychological counselors.
But behind the complicated product and service system, there are a few core competencies that seem “simple”.
In essence, Ceetree Health is a To-B enterprise, which requires sufficient understanding and insight into the B-side business processes, needs and pain points.
In this regard, Zhang Yu and the core team of Ceetree Health are very confident after years of experience in the ToB track. According to Zhang Yu, Ceetree Health’s core team has more than 10 years of experience in B-side customer development, B-side software and hardware product design and development, and more than 3 years of experience in the psychological industry.
The extensive experience in serving the B-side also became one of the decision factors for Zhang Yu in deciding Ceetree Health’s market positioning. “China’s mental health industry is still in the early stages of development and faces many development challenges, such as the need for a long period of time and huge costs for market awareness education, and the need for national policy support and government investment to change national mental health awareness and consumer behavior. But at the same time, the development difficulties of the B-side market should not be ignored. Our team’s industry experience is mostly focused on serving B-side clients. Therefore, we want to use our industry accumulation to help the B-side develop better and faster.”
However, even deeper experience accumulation requires in-depth understanding of the practical needs of B-end customers, especially for B-end or G-end customers who need to establish a perfect mental health service mechanism, such as municipal-district mental health centers, hospitals at all levels, social management centers, as well as education boards at all levels and various schools, it is especially important to understand their real needs.
In this regard, Ceetree Health will help clients sort out the task indicators that need to be accomplished, and sort out a full set of service processes as well as establish referral mechanisms and links to other third-party psychological service providers such as counseling agencies.
Take the education system as an example, according to Zhang Yu, Ceetree Health will first assist them in completing key KPIs such as mental health screening and mental health file creation, and will build and improve the follow-up service process based on this. For example, the grading management after the mental health screening and the linkage with other related parts. “The whole process we have standardized and can help schools to respond systematically and quickly.” Zhang Yu said.
In addition, Ceetree Health’s expertise in AI algorithms and mental health is also not to be underestimated. Its chief technical advisor, Wang Yang, graduated from the University of Electronic Science and Technology with a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics and has 20 years of experience at Huawei, where he has held positions such as R&D minister and product director; in the field of mental health services, Ceetree Health has also established stable partnerships with more than 500 psychologists nationwide.
But more importantly, Zhang Yu has repeatedly emphasized in interviews that Ceetree Health is not a product provider that only provides systems, but a total solution provider for psychological services. In other words, Ceetree Health not only provides products, but also provides follow-up operation solutions. In this way, not only can customers use the products, but also users can use the products well.
To date, Ceetree Health has reached cooperation with medical systems, education systems, and government and corporate systems in many places for mental health software, and its hardware and software products in the psychological field have served nearly 2 million end-users, and its service groups cover civil servants, students, corporate workers, the elderly, and the newly crowned pneumonia quarantine subjects, among other groups.
It is worth noting that Ceetree Health’s business scope has been gradually extended to include hardware devices and psychological digital therapy.
For example, VR rehabilitation devices for agoraphobia, claustrophobia, social fear, anxiety, depression, stress reduction and relaxation, emotional catharsis, etc., VR wearable devices for Internet-based mild to moderate multi-morbidity rehabilitation scenarios, online courses, stress reduction and emotional catharsis, etc., as well as mind-talking robots for ADHD, autism in young children, autism in adults, and Alzheimer’s disease. At present, the above three types of products are in the pre-research stage.
And digital psychotherapy products such as networked ACT, digital music therapy, digital positive thinking, and meditation therapy are still in the modeling or data training stage.
“The domestic psychological services market is still at a very early stage, such that means this track is full of development opportunities. For example, digital therapy can not only free up the productivity of psychologists or counselors, but also extend their service radius as well as service time. And, there is no chain of psychological consulting agencies in China yet, but with reference to the dental track, there are also greater opportunities for the chain of psychological service consulting agencies.” Zhang Yu concluded, “And Ceetree Health’s goal is to become a provider of digital rehabilitation products and solutions for different types of mental health conditions based on mental health services and education and ensuring high-quality survival.”