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homeless man on street waiting for vaccine

BY Leo Hynett


Healios: Leading Mental Healthcare

The virtual care platform providing autism and ADHD diagnoses with ongoing family support.

JUNE 16  2021


Healios is a London-based virtual care platform with services targeted at children and young people struggling with their mental health. They also work to diagnose and support people of all ages with autism and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Support is also offered for the families of users, ensuring users have a strong and informed support network long after their time with Healios ends.

Seeking diagnosis and support for autism and ADHD is often a long and complicated process, especially for adults. Having the right support around you – from both healthcare providers and personal support networks – can make all the difference whilst navigating this process.


Children’s mental health

The pandemic has had a massive impact on the mental health of children. Time away from friends, school, and normal routines was tricky to navigate – and going back to those things is challenging too

‘At the moment, one in eight (almost 13%) five to 19 year olds in the UK have a mental health disorder, but two-thirds are unable to access NHS care because of long waiting lists that have been made even worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.’ 

These long waiting lists were a challenge facing mental health services even prior to the pandemic but the issue has now been compounded massively. Waiting lists are longer, doctor can see fewer patients in person, and there is a vast backlog to catch up with. Luckily, Healios can help ease this burden.

‘From emotional wellbeing and resilience support to more complex assessment and intervention care needs, we have a range of services to support children, young people and their families.’ 

Currently, children and adults need to be referred to Healios by CAMHS or GP services so there is still an amount of NHS time and effort involved in the service, but far less than if they were supporting all the patients themselves. There is clearly a demand for the service as it is already used by two-thirds of NHS mental health trusts. If people are referred by the NHS then Healios will keep the NHS team up to date with progress and share reports, making the service convenient for patients and GPS alike. Healios raised £7m in May, a very well timed boost in funding that has helped them support the NHS in these challenging times.


Seeking a diagnosis

Getting an autism or ADHD diagnosis is rarely easy, especially for adults as both are more easily and commonly diagnosed in young people. It can also be the case that, once a diagnosis is received, there is little continuing support. The Healios team understands that diagnosis is just the beginning and ensure they arm their users with the right tools. They offer support post-diagnosis, discussing care and action plans for the future. All this is tailored to the individual as every experience of neurodivergence is different. Neurodivergence refers to thinking or processing differently from the majority (those who are neurotypical) and encompasses autism, ADHD, dyslexia and more.

Through our platform, you’ll be able to interact with our clinicians, view your personal progress reports and ask family members to join your sessions. You’ll also have access to our self-care app for on-demand support.’

The main Healios experience runs entirely in-browser so there’s no need to download additional apps and there’s no specific operating system required. The lack of specific hardware requirements means this is equally accessible to everyone, something that many virtual healthcare providers fail to consider when creating their own app based services that cannot run in browsers or on certain types of devices.


Going beyond video calls

In the world of telemedicine, video consultations have become the norm. These are brilliant for neurodiverse people as appointments can take place in safe and familiar environments, removing that element of stress from the equation. However, the challenge of these consultations is that they are still real-time, meaning that users still have limited access to their healthcare providers. Healios meshes these video consultations with other activities so that there is always support available when users need it:

‘Our care approach not only involves video sessions with your clinician but also personalised digital activities through our platform. Depending on your care plan, this can include various exercises to complete between your clinical sessions and ongoing support through our ThinkNinja app.’

These activities to do between sessions help keep users focused and on track with their care plans as well as splitting out tasks across the week – much more effective than asking those with ADHD to fill out workbooks in single sittings. Having these activities available via the ThinkNinja app means that these tasks can be completed wherever and whenever users feel ready to. Again, this is a very ADHD friendly system.

Healios plans to use some of its recent round of funding to expand its AI, machine learning and data science team, further expanding its offerings outside of video consultations.

Family support

Something that truly makes Healios stand out is that its support extends beyond the main user. Family support is far from an afterthought, the service has been designed to include family as part of the care experience. Including family members in video consultations means users feel more comfortable in the unfamiliar situation and can more freely communicate with their healthcare professionals.

Understanding that ‘mental health and neurodiverse conditions impact different people and families in different ways’, Healios offers individualised support that is tailored to fit the specific needs of users and their families. Facilitating this family support means Healios users are better prepared for when their sessions with the service end and their entire support network has been involved and informed every step of the way.

This family support is crucial in helping people feel comfortable in their neurodivergence as well as supporting their family members. Family members and suers of the service will be equipped with the language and understanding to communicate their needs. Through involving family right from the start, Healios is setting users up for a time when they are no longer using the service. This forward thinking will make transitioning out of the service much easier and make sure no one feels left in the dark.


Final thoughts

Caring for the mental health of children amidst the pandemic has been vital, and will continue to be as we come out of the other side. Neurodivergent children may have struggled more with the pandemic so ensuring they have access to platforms and networks that will continue to support them is crucial.

Support beyond diagnosis for people with autism or ADHD is much needed and it’s great to see it being delivered in such a neurodivergence-friendly way. Extending this support to families is a great addition that is often missed by platforms such as these. Taking someone with you to an in-person doctor’s appointment to support you is normal, so it’s great to see this added to a virtual platform to replicate that supportive presence.



About the Author: Leo Hynett

Leo Hynett is a contributing Features Writer, with a particular interest in Culture, the Arts and LGBTQ+ Politics.

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