Meet our Nordic Fellow Oskar Blakstad
Oskar is the founder of Assisted Self-Help (ASH). ASH is a web-based platform for experts to create and share treatments to currently underprioritized patients with mild and moderate symptoms of the most common mental health disorders.
His Changemaker journey
In his youth, Oskar understood that his passion lies in psychology and in helping people. As a research assistant during his studies, he created a program to analyze the recurrent research data in his project. Then, he identified that many other researchers could benefit from this solution if it was web-based, which led him to create the website that later became Explorable.com in 2008. The site includes concepts, tools and research about psychology.
After completing his studies, Oskar started to work as a psychologist within the Norwegian public healthcare system. As a practitioner at an outpatient clinic, he saw the constrained resources of the mental health workers and the limited capacity for a more effective diagnostic and treatment process. Consequently, Oskar decided to combine his skills in technology with his insights and expertise as a psychologist to come up with ASH tools and the author tool that exists today. This initiative is mainly financed by Explorable.com, which he also developed.
Having a global vision, Oskar seeks to help many other patients in need in other regions, as well as triggering innovation in mental health treatments.
With the ASH tools, Oskar aims to improve the access to affordable treatments among patients who experience mild and moderate symptoms of the most common mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety and sleeping disorders.
In order to do so, Oskar provides a faster response for this large number of patients, thus improving their quality of life. Simultaneously he addresses the issues of an inefficiently structured and overcrowded healthcare system.
Oskar seeks to create a system where people can quickly get the relevant support they need to treat emerging mental health problems.
Oskar is improving the quality of health services by integrating ASH tools into municipal healthcare system. Oskar does so by targeting patients with the most common mental health disorders (e.g. depression, anxiety and sleeping disorders) on a mild/moderate degree, who are not prioritized due to the over-capacity of the system.
Oskar’s platform contributes to the generation of knowledge and new methods, innovating the mental health field. ASH treatments created by experts using the author tool do not only rely on cognitive behavioral therapy but also incorporates other clinically-proven methods. Through ASH, Oskar aims to create a peer-review system where experts can examine other treatments and give opinions, ensuring quality while also improving learning and establishing best practices.
Besides, Oskar’s web-based ASH treatments provide professional support to these patients with evidence-based, informative and easy-to-implement tools, allowing them to take charge of their own therapies.
Through ASH, patients gain overall knowledge about their disorder, which helps them to normalize their symptoms and view their situation in a more positive light, creating a sense of trust and security. In addition, experts who introduce ASH tools to their patients are enabled to use their time more efficiently and reach more patients, thanks to reduced waiting times.
This approach allows different health providers to reuse and share treatment modules with each other instead of recreating the content from scratch – decentralizing the knowledge, saving resources and increasing access to different patient groups. Besides, Oskar continuously incorporates expert and patient feedback to improve the quality of treatments, making them more adaptable and engaging for different user groups.