Rethink Wellbeing’s mission is to nurture mental wellbeing at scale. To do so, it uses engaging, proven, and low-cost programmes, tailored to the needs of communities.
Mental illness impedes clear thinking, productivity, and relationships — all of which would allow for agency and flourishing. Given the usual or even increased prevalence of mental health conditions among effective altruists — and around 35% productivity loss for affected individuals — the effective altruism movement loses 5–10% of its productivity and likely impact. With 7,400 effective altruists that are considered “highly engaged,” this reflects a workforce loss of around 400 people.
Half of the affected effective altruists report an unmet need for mental health support. The special effects of working on reducing existential risk and suffering require tailored services, and with the effects of the FTX crisis, psychosocial support for effective altruists is now needed more than ever.
More than 300 effective altruists working across all cause areas have already signed up for Rethink Wellbeing’s service — mainly after one EA Forum announcement, which was read by roughly 1,200 people.
Guided self-help and digital therapeutics have proven to be cost-effective and scalable solutions that can help relieve overwhelmed care providers. Meta-analyses show that when guided online by trained laypeople (i.e., peers), they are just as effective and engaging as professional one-on-one therapy at a fraction of the cost. A peer guide only needs to be trained once to deliver a diverse portfolio of digital interventions. Also, building strong peer relationships and feeling social support independently strengthens engagement as well as mental health itself.
Rethink Wellbeing wants to test established guidance frameworks, such as peer counselling and support groups, and combine these with proven digital content and tools such as moodgym,CCI Self Help, or acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) workbooks. Rethink Wellbeing aims to develop a system that improves mental resilience in the effective altruism community at scale. Its approach builds upon pilot projects of others in this space, mainly online effective altruism fellowships, GoalsWon,the EA Mental Health Programmme, and Off Road.
In 2023, Rethink Wellbeing plans to create and pilot minimum viable products (MVPs) for:
It then plans to test and improve the MVPs by running different versions of groups with an experienced facilitator, collecting feedback, iterating and testing again, developing high-quality versions, and running a randomised controlled trial.
Additional donations to Rethink Wellbeing will help it grow its team more quickly to meet the demand for high-quality services — including hiring a full-time director and research owner, and paying experienced facilitators to host pilot groups to optimise the concepts and inform future training of peer facilitators.
We don't currently have further information about the cost-effectiveness of Rethink Wellbeing beyond it doing work in a high-impact cause area and taking a reasonably promising approach.