More mental health startups offering relief for burnt out employees emerging

19 October 2021

Mental health startups are helping change the narrative on how people think about mental disorders. (Photo by Frank ZELLER / AFP)

Mental health issues are becoming one of the most critical factors contributing to the worldwide burden of disease and disability. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused devastating economic and social disruption and, in turn, has widely impacted employee wellbeing.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), poor mental health in employees can lead to burnout, which seriously impairs their ability to make a significant contribution to their personal and professional lives. An Aetna survey also revealed that 70% of employers believe they have good access to health and wellness benefits, yet only 23% of employees agree with that assessment. 

Pressing need for awareness on mental health

There is a growing need and awareness for solutions as mental health is no longer limited to medication and therapy. According to CB Insights, funding for mental health startups hit a record high of $US852 million in the first quarter of 2021, nearly double the amount raised in the same period of 2020.

There are various mental health startups and even more established businesses today offering multiple treatments to treat underlying conditions.  Listed here are five startups that are effectively affecting the mental health space for employees and other emotionally taxed individuals.

1. Clarigent Health – Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning For Diagnostics

This US company developed a platform based on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to detect mental health problems early. In addition, the platform serves as a clinical decision support tool by providing information to medical staff about suicide ideation and other mental health issues.

The company recently received the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to advance the development of their machine learning algorithms.

2. Meditopia – Meditation 

This Turkish startup was founded by Fatih Celebi, Berk Yilmaz and Ali Murat Ceylan, who developed a meditation app to reduce stress, improve sleep cycles, and restore calm to both body and mind. 

The app offers personalized meditation sessions, relaxing music comprising immersive soundscapes from nights in the country to natural elements like rain to bedtime stories on various topics. Meditopia’s unique selling point is that it specializes in localization features for 75 global markets in 10 languages, focusing on long-term mental wellness programs.

3. Real – Mental Health and Therapy 

Real offers therapist-designed mental health programs — available on-demand so members can take mental breaks when and where they want. Each multi-session pathway focuses on a specific topic and helps one grow through an interactive combination of audio learnings, journal prompts, IRL challenges, and more. 

Since its inception in 20202, the company has launched a new online therapy service and has raised US$10 million in a Series A funding round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners. The company’s investors include actress and entrepreneur Gwyneth Paltrow, NFL all-pro Eric Kendricks, and companies VC Forerunner Ventures, Female Founders Fund, and SoGal.

4. Sentio Solutions – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Monitoring

This US-based company created Feel, an emotion-sensing bracelet (within a wider trend of health-focused wearables) and app that monitors people with anxiety or depression in real-time. The Feel program combines the company’s proprietary Feel Emotion Sensor that continuously detects and monitors one’s emotional state, with personalized coaching to help enhance mental wellbeing.

In 2019, the company raised US$6.3 million in funding, which allowed Sentio to expand access to its Feel program through partnerships with health plans, life insurance providers, employers, and health systems.

5. Spring Health – Enhancing Employee Assistance Program 

This New York-based company offers a program that can replace or supplement traditional EAPs, providing small businesses with a platform to deliver personalized mental health plans. Employees can complete comprehensive, clinically validated, and dynamic assessments online to receive treatment options.

In addition, they have access to licensed mental health professionals within the Spring Health network. Spring health has raised more than $100 million in venture capital funding since it launched in 2016 and has reached 200 employees.