PHOENIX, May 14, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ), the state's largest locally based health insurer, and Sharecare, the digital health company that helps people manage all their health in one place, today announced a collaboration to help all Arizonans better manage stress, anxiety, and burnout. With an estimated 230% increase in worry among Americans due to the pandemic,1 BCBSAZ is providing all Arizonans with 90 days of free access to Sharecare's award-winning Unwinding Anxiety,2 which is clinically proven to decrease anxiety within three months.3 Unwinding Anxiety was created by renowned neuroscientist and behavior change and mindfulness expert, Dr. Jud Brewer.
"In the face of this global health crisis, we must be innovative, collaborative, and empathetic to help ensure our communities have the support and resources necessary to push through this difficult time," said Pam Kehaly, president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. "COVID-19 is having an impact nationally, but Arizona is especially feeling the weight of worry and anxiety. It is critical to prioritize mental health with physical and economic health, as we work to rebuild the strength of our community."
According to Sharecare's Flatten the Curve survey – which was completed by more than 115,000 people – the COVID-19 pandemic has escalated what was already a major mental well-being crisis in the United States, with 88% of respondents in Arizona indicating they are experiencing worry. While the Grand Canyon State typically ranks better than most in terms of managing anxiety prior to COVID-19, Arizonans are reporting a greater increase in worry due to the pandemic than the national average. Further, 20% of respondents in Arizona indicate they are experiencing severe stress and anxiety due to COVID-19.
"At Sharecare, we are driven by an innate passion to constantly innovate to meet people's evolving well-being needs – and now, in the face of COVID-19, we are guided by that philosophy more than ever," said Jeff Arnold, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Sharecare. "With people's anxiety reaching enormous levels during the pandemic, we aimed to quickly provide a solution that was clinically validated, grounded in research and results driven; and, thanks to the vision of Dr. Brewer, we have that in spades with Unwinding Anxiety. The opportunity to give this to every Arizonan for three months in partnership with BCBSAZ is humbling, and it is our sincere hope that this program helps them in the short term while building mental resilience for what's next."
Unwinding Anxiety is an app-based digital therapeutic program designed to help break the cycle of worry through guided exercises, daily check-ins, and access to experts and a community of people also working to reduce their own anxiety. Building on more than 20 years of Dr. Brewer's scientific research of mindfulness-based training, Unwinding Anxiety teaches people how to calm their minds, uncover what triggers their anxiety, and identify their "anxiety habits," which can help one unlearn or extinguish worry at a core mechanistic level.
"Inside every single one of us lies the ability to build resilience, and the more we understand how our minds work, the more we can work with our minds," said Dr. Brewer, creator of Unwinding Anxiety and director of Research and Innovation at the Brown University Mindfulness Center. "Particularly when we have the self-awareness to acknowledge our individual triggers and reactions, we can ground ourselves in the present moment to get our thinking brains back online and work toward an anxiety-free zone. Over the next three months, I hope that Arizonans use Unwinding Anxiety and Sharecare to replace an old habit of anxiety with a new habit of awareness and connection."
Through BCBSAZ's existing partnership with Sharecare, Arizonans have been using the digital health platform since early 2020 to learn their RealAge, earn green days and follow a personalized, evidence-based journey to better health. Meanwhile, many BCBSAZ members have enjoyed enhanced services through Sharecare, including access to claims data; custom challenges and incentive fulfillment; and additional tools and information, including best-in-class lifestyle coaching. Now, any Arizonan who downloads Sharecare can access Unwinding Anxiety as part of their personalized, evidence-based journey to improve their health and well-being.
To download Sharecare and redeem access to three months of Unwinding Anxiety for free, go to arizona.sharecare.com. For additional actionable information on managing stress and worry during COVID-19, watch the "Unwinding Anxiety in Arizona" webinar from Sharecare and BCBSAZ, featuring insights from Dr. Brewer, Arnold and Kehaly, as well as Sharecare co-founder, Dr. Mehmet Oz.
Sharecare is independent of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Inc. (BCBSAZ), and has contracted with BCBSAZ to provide its health and wellness engagement platform to BCBSAZ members and all Arizona residents.
About Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ) is committed to helping Arizonans get healthier faster and stay healthier longer. With a focus on connecting people with the care they need, BCBSAZ offers health insurance and related services to more than 1.7 million customers. BCBSAZ, a not-for-profit company, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. The company, and its subsidiaries, employ more than 2,400 people in its Phoenix, Chandler, Flagstaff, and Tucson offices. Through advanced clinical programs and community outreach, BCBSAZ is inspiring health. To learn more, visit azblue.com.
Sharecare is the digital health company that helps people manage all their health in one place. The Sharecare platform provides each person – no matter where they are in their health journey – with a comprehensive and personalized health profile where they can dynamically and easily connect to the information, evidence-based programs and health professionals they need to live their healthiest, happiest and most productive lives. In addition to providing individual consumers with direct access to award-winning and innovative frictionless technologies, scientifically validated clinical protocols and best-in-class coaching tools, Sharecare also helps providers, employers and health plans effectively scale outcomes-based health and wellness solutions across their entire populations. To learn more, visit www.sharecare.com.
1 Estimated based on comparison of general worry prior to COVID-19 from the Community Well-Being Index and Flatten the Curve responses to "How worried are you about the novel Coronavirus?"
2 Offer available only to residents of Arizona who register for Sharecare and sign up for the Unwinding Anxiety program on or before May 31, 2020. Subscription will not renew past 90 days unless you choose to renew and provide payment information. The Unwinding Anxiety app is a product of Mindsciences.
3 As measured with GAD-7; Physician Anxiety and Burnout: Symptom Correlates and a Prospective Pilot Study of App-Delivered Mindfulness Training. JMIR Mhealth. 2020
SOURCE Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona