Dr Zain Sikafi

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Read why alumnus Dr Zain Sikafi, Intercalated BSc Medical Sciences with Management 2008, believes the digital world is transforming mental health treatment in the UK and how this gave him the idea for his new start-up Mynurva.com.

“The UK is on the verge of a massive mental health digital disruption. Consumer enthusiasm for digital suggests strong growth potential in the near future, as consumers are clearly primed and ready to quickly embrace new digital offerings.

The global market for digital health is expected to grow to £43bn by 2018, with the UK accounting for 7% at £2.9bn by 2018[1]. The UK market size is predominantly driven by growth in mHealth apps, which is expected to grow by 35% in the UK and 49% globally.

Mental health is the single largest cause of ill-health in UK[2] with over 15 million people having symptoms[3]
Dr Zain Sikafi
Intercalated BSc Medical Sciences with Management
 Dr Zain Sikafi

However there is surging demand for mental health services with around 50% of all ill-health in those under 65 years of age due to mental health[4]. Furthermore the cuts in health spending has resulted in patients waiting considerable amounts of time for help. The distinguished mental health charity Mind reported that just over half of GP referrals to therapy have been waiting over 3 months to receive treatment[5].

Despite the success of my first start-up Doctoori.net (over 1.6 million users/month), I still practice as a GP. I became disillusioned with the waiting times for therapy for my patients, and the sheer volume of patients with mental health symptoms. The reality is that we all know someone that has had symptoms, we may have had some too. That’s what led me to launch Mynurva.com, providing instant access to a counsellor/therapist online, discreetly and confidentially.

The British Prime Minister Theresa May commissioned Mind Chief Executive, Paul Farmer, and former HBOS chair, Dennis Stevenson to lead a landmark ‘Thriving for work’ (Oct 2017)[6]independent review into how people with mental health problems can be better supported in the workplace. Their findings were:

  • 300,000 lose their jobs each year due to mental health problems
  • 15% of people at work have symptoms of an existing mental health condition

The ‘Thriving for work’ study was supported independently by a study on the cost to employers by Deloitte[7]. Deloitte discovered that the cost to the UK Economy was £72-99Bn per annum.

I believe technology has a massive role to play in mental health. My hope is that Mynurva.com can not only provide great care, but also end the days of people coping in silence for fear of stigma or discrimination.”

It is clear the existing way mental health is being addressed is not working. With the growing numbers of individuals being affected, the surging economic burden, along with the strain on the NHS – we need to do things differently.
Dr Zain Sikafi
Intercalated BSc Medical Sciences with Management
 Dr Zain Sikafi

[1] Deloitte (2015). Digital Health in the UK: An industry study for the Office of Life Sciences
[2] Department of Health (2011), No health without mental health: A cross government mental health outcomes strategy for people of all ages
[3] Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics and Political Science (2012), How mental illness loses out in the NHS
[4] McCrone, et al  (2008), Paying the price: The cost of mental health care in England to 2026, The Kings Fund
[5] Mind. (2014). We still need to talk – A report on access to talking therapies
[6] Farmer and Stevenson (2017). Thriving at Work: The Independent Review of Mental Health and Employers. UK Government
[7] Deloitte (2017). Mental health and employers: The case for investment Supporting study for the Independent Review October 2017

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