Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects around four per cent of UK adults, yet the condition remains poorly misunderstood and under-diagnosed.
Adults seeking NHS diagnosis and treatment face long waiting lists, with many having to find ways to muddle through without help.
In the US, millions of adults misdiagnosed during childhood navigate life with executive function difficulties, getting inadequate and expensive support.
Now, Agave Health is on a mission to provide adults with comprehensive and affordable ADHD care.
After spending a decade working at and advising up and coming B2C startups including Wix, Fiverr, Atera and Easyplant, Agave Health co-founder and CRO Eve Lise Mamane built the first virtual clinic for adults with ADHD.
Q: What inspired you to launch Agave Health?
A: The inspiration behind starting Agave Health stemmed from my personal journey with ADHD, which began when I met my husband.
He was diagnosed with ADHD in adulthood, prior to us meeting, and it opened my eyes to a condition I knew very little about.
Initially, I didn’t fully comprehend the depth and complexity of the diagnosis and naively believed that he could simply “try harder.”
However, as we started living together, I began to witness firsthand the extraordinary effort he had to exert to complete tasks that appeared simple to me.
I also observed the impact of ADHD medication on him—how it could be helpful at times, but also fail him and push him to emotional limits that seemed neither healthy nor sustainable.
This prompted me to delve deeper into researching ADHD, leading me to realise the striking lack of adequate behavioural care available for adults facing similar challenges.
I recognised an underserved community that deserved comprehensive and accessible care without compromising on quality.
This realisation evolved into the vision that is now Agave Health.
Q: What impact can ADHD have on adults who don’t seek treatment?
A: Today, there are 13 million adults diagnosed with ADHD in the United States.
However, underdiagnosis of ADHD among adults is rampant for a plethora of reasons (ADHD has a very high comorbidity rate with other mental health conditions that are easier to diagnose such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders and more ; ADHD in adulthood requires deeper assessment in order to be diagnosed in comparison to ADHD in childhood; adult women are even more significantly affected by misdiagnosis due to societal biases and fears of stigma; etc.).
As a result, studies actually estimate there are north of 50 million adults who are actually affected by ADHD in the USA alone.
Adults with ADHD struggle in ways that are hard to comprehend for neurotypicals.
The diagnosis is so complex that it doesn’t spare any sphere of an adult’s life – career, romantic relationships, friendships, financial management, physical health, everything really.
Without seeking treatment you run the risk of thinking there is something wrong with you, and there is no way for you to ever gain any control over your life.
For some adults, a diagnosis of ADHD can bring a sense of relief.
Receiving a diagnosis allows adults to understand the reasons for their problems, and treatment can help them to deal with challenges more effectively.
Since ADHD often comes with heightened non-executive functional skills such as creativity, emergency handling, and more, providing proper care to this population promises to have a tremendous impact not only on the ADHD population but also on society at large.
Q: Did you work with people with ADHD and ADHD experts in developing the technology?
A: Yes, we have a team of experts on our advisory board that is composed of psychologists and psychiatrists who specialise in ADHD.
Q: How do your coaching services work and how are they tailored?
A: We offer unlimited chatting with your coach as well as weekly video sessions.
Our coaching services are provided by ADHD Coaches who collaborate with Agave.
They offer the advantages of both one-on-one video sessions and the flexibility of chat-based coaching between visits.
By embracing digital delivery, we not only make high-quality care accessible to everyone but also significantly reduce costs for our members.
Q: ADHD has traditionally been treated with medication such as Adderall and Ritalin. Are doctors/health professions receptive to alternatives such as those offered via Agave Health?
A: Absolutely. Research shows that behavioural care is not only useful in helping one to manage ADHD, but also that it drastically improves the impact of ADHD medication as well.
After all, the medication alone provides a set amount of time with heightened focus, which in turn positively impacts one’s ability to execute tasks, plan, manage priorities, and even control emotions.
However, without behavioural care, its ingestion’s impact stays limited to this.
Behavioural care enhances the medication’s effectiveness by ensuring the patient uses the time on medication to efficient ends, and balances it out with an overall healthier lifestyle.
Many psychiatrists understand and even embrace this approach.
We actually have a partnership with Frontrow Health, a platform that enables medical providers to recommend health products to their
patients, aimed at complementing the treatment they provide themselves.
Within only a few weeks of partnership, we already have hundreds of providers recommending our solution through this platform.
This is a testament to a positive motion we’re observing in the medical community, which embraces behavioural health solutions to accompany traditional treatments.
Q: How does community support help your users live with and manage their ADHD?
A: Community is key. There are many neurodivergents out there, but each one has different experiences, circumstance and is on a different journey.
With that being said, there still is a common denominator, and the power of community that fosters a safe space to connect with other people who understand you, share your frustrations and your accomplishments, can cheer you on, commiserate, support you and just listen without judgment is something that all our members have said they were missing.
It was important for us to focus on the community from the beginning in addition to all the other services and support we provide.
A direct quote from one of our members: ”the community is major! it’s been a privilege to watch it grow more and more each day!”
Q: Is Agave Health backed by clinical research?
A: Yes. The impact of behavioural care in managing ADHD is backed by research, covering cognitive behavioural therapy, coaching, and more.
In parallel, our care protocols are carefully developed alongside our clinical advisory board, composed of psychologists and psychiatrists
specialised in adult ADHD.
Q: How do you ensure the security of user data?
A: Our user data is only accessible to the members themselves, their Coach, and the must-know folks on our team (Head of Coaching).
Other than that, everything is attached to a unique encrypted identifier.
Despite not being required to with regards to our current service offering, we make sure to hold the standards of HIPAA compliance.
Q: What are your plans for the remainder of 2023 and into 2024?
A: One of the main goals we’ve set ourselves from the onset of Agave was to make the highest quality of ADHD care accessible to the largest audience possible.
To make this happen, we have started to partner with employers in order to provide access to Agave as a benefit to their employees.
The responses have been incredibly heartwarming in this regard.
With a heightened awareness for neurodiversity and ADHD in particular, employers now understand that specialised care is paramount to make a significant difference in the lives of their employees with ADHD, and are eagerly starting to invest in it.
Seeing first hand how generalised care doesn’t effectively support this population, and how treating ADHD actually reduces the development of comorbidities such as anxiety and depression, they reach out to us and closely work with us to ensure their employees get the support they need and live fulfilling lives.
Continuing to grow these partnerships is our core focus for the coming year.
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