It’s no secret that America (and, frankly, the world as a whole) is suffering from what could be called a mental health epidemic. As mental health has been declining (and has taken a sharp downward turn due to the 2020 COVID pandemic), more and more people are becoming aware and educated about mental health.
By and large, this is a good thing. We can’t solve any issues if we pretend that issues aren’t there (or worse, are truly ignorant to their existence). But knowledge isn’t enough. Knowing that mental health and mental illnesses are real will not magically heal them, just like knowing you have cancer will not cure you of your cancer.
However, rather than just knowing about it, and staying on the standard path, Lima Jevremovic, entrepreneur, mental health advocate, and AURA founder is making big changes in the world of mental healthcare.
AURA is the digital health startup dedicated to treating mental health like physical health by using data to diagnose patients and enhancing mental health treatment options to reduce the rate of relapse. AURA offers a telehealth solution for distance care that not only provides video calls with a therapist, but allows patients to stay connected with the program and clinicians. By tracking patient progress to detect mental health variables that otherwise may have been missed, AURA allows clinicians to provide more precise treatment of mental health ailments and Substance Use disorders (SUDs).
In addition, AURA offers in-office therapeutic enhancement options
by using state of the art, location-based VR devices. This gives clinicians the ability to detect health issues through a proprietary algorithm that monitors patient behavior in correlation with patient interactions, telehealth sessions and enhances therapy through immersive 3D environments via Exposure Therapy in Virtual Reality. Rather than just listening to a patient, and making inferences about a possible diagnosis, AURA allows these counselors, therapists and clinicians to rely on statistical, data-driven results to inform their diagnosis, prescription, and care.
Even though it’s easier to focus on helping just her loved ones struggling with mental health conditions, while countless others continue to be cycled through an ineffective treatment system, Jevremovic instead is providing a way out—because she has witnessed the effects of poor mental healthcare herself.
Jevremovic grew up in an abusive house, alongside her mother and two younger sisters. When they finally escaped, however, the troubles kept following them. Years after getting away and starting a new life, her sisters developed complex PTSD from the pre-verbal abuse and trauma they endured and witnessed as young children. The life that they were too young to even remember was taking its toll on them.
As young adults, their mental health conditions began to drastically deteriorate. When they finally reached out to seek help, it only made things worse; the medical healthcare they received only damaged them more. Misdiagnosed for more than three and half years and given over ten different prescription drugs concurrently, they eventually became addicted to these medications that only helped to suppress not treat the actual illness and their lives continued in a downward spiral of addiction, treatment, relapse, and mental illness. After witnessing this firsthand for years, Jevremovic saw a way to change things.
Commenting on the ineffectiveness of typical mental healthcare, she says, “The mental health industry at present is primitive and underdeveloped. On average it costs $45,000 per month to keep one person in residential treatment for 30 days. Most patients have been self-medicating for 15 years or more before they decide to go to treatment to seek help. It is nearly impossible to change someone’s behavior patterns, self-worth and treat underlying mental health conditions that have been wired to lead to self-destruction for 15years in a 30-day residential stay. The high cost of treatment has become a barrier leaving many without access to care, but those who have 30-day insurance coverage face a relapse rate of 90% which is often tied to lethal overdose. Everyone is paying the costs for our broken system and searching for change; treatment centers, insurance companies and most of all patients.”
With AURA, however, Jevremovic has developed a new path for patients to receive accurate treatment, backed by data and results rather than the best guesses of a therapist or counselor alone. While AURA is not intended to replace counseling, medications and other standard treatments, it has a practical supplement to integrate into care in order to achieve the results for successful recovery outcomes and combat the global mental health epidemic.