The Rise of Mental Health Startups

Written by Jennifer Clark
Posted February 24, 2021

Mental health has always been a taboo topic that many felt uncomfortable even discussing with a professional. You kept it to yourself and tried to figure it out on your own. However, that isn’t the best solution. Most often, mental illness isn’t something someone can address without help.

Unfortunately, access to mental health treatment has been limited for a lot of people, and that has become even more apparent in the past few years — especially in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic altering the lives of many people. This past year, there has been a big emphasis on how mental health needs to be taken more seriously and that treatment should be widely available to everyone. 

If there’s one good thing that has come out of this pandemic, it is that obtaining mental health treatment has become a lot easier thanks to several startups that are tackling the complexities surrounding mental health. The demand for more resources and access is high. Science Daily reports that a new national survey indicates that 80% of young Americans have reported depressive feelings and loneliness as a result of the pandemic. These mental health startups aim to meet the demand for care, battle the stigma around mental illness, and provide professional help amid a current shortage of therapists. Oren Frank, co-founder and CEO of the online mental health services company Talkspace, said in a recent interview:

Today, we see the sour fruits of COVID because though behavioral health issues were prominent before COVID, the pandemic drove it to such a level of anxiety, depression, financial hardships, etc., that it became impossible to ignore. 

There became a driving recognition during this time that behavioral health was a good fit for virtual care. You don’t need an X-ray, blood test, or for a doctor to feel your arm — it is essentially a conversation and far better fit.

It became impossible to ignore, and startups like Talkspace knew that it needed to be tackled and could be done so easily and virtually — much like everything else that has now shifted to online/virtual because of the pandemic. Not to mention, the U.S. health care system had a difficult time giving people in need access to care even before COVID. Navigating the U.S. health care system has always been a complicated process for people searching for mental health treatment. 

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Even after the COVID-19 pandemic begins to fade, everyone won't just go back to normal and no longer have mental hardships. The ailments that consumed people throughout the pandemic will likely linger. Despite the virus no longer being a threat, people will have had their lives altered for more than a year, having been deeply impacted by the pandemic, whether it was losing a loved one, losing a job, being isolated for a long time, etc. These circumstances take a toll on the mental health of an individual. 

Russell Glass, CEO of an on-demand mental health company called Ginger, said:

If you look at the pandemic, it is the perfect story of health insurance, loneliness, depression, financial difficulties, and concerns about getting sick. It is all of this in one, and unfortunately, that tailwind will be on mental health issues once we are out of this.

Ginger provides around-the-clock access to emotional support through coaching, therapy, and psychiatry. It’s just one of many startups that have built the foundation of their business on mental health and providing the public with access to help they may not have received because of either stigma or lack of access because due to costs or shortages of mental health professionals and other resources. Precedence Research announced that the size of the global behavioral health market is projected to surpass around $242 billion by 2027. This market is rapidly growing and these mental health startups, with software and applications that improve the access to mental health help, could greatly benefit from this new growing and thriving market.

Until next time, 

Jennifer Clark
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