As a consumer, getting the help you need to overcome stress, anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder is easier than ever before–thanks to telehealth platforms. We can find online therapists using BetterHelp, get depression medicines delivered through Ro Mind, video chat with psychiatrists using Talkiatry, or find peer support via Togetherall.
Today, new startups are tackling mental health issues through (1) unbundling of healthcare, (2) unlocking accessibility and affordability, (3) building an integrated mental healthcare ecosystem, and (4) enterprisation of consumer services.
We’ll examine consumer-facing mental health platforms — and reveal exciting opportunities to monetize and win in this space.
1. Key trends
(1) VC funding in the mental health space is exploding:
Many people can’t afford therapy because 70% of mental healthcare providers don’t accept insurance. As a result, paying for therapy is usually expensive, i.e. each therapy session costs $60 — $120 on average.
Headway and SonderMind help therapists to take insurance and for patients to get coverage for therapy costs.
Most mental health platforms are flourishing in places like the United States and Europe. Many developing countries have yet to reach the same level of accessibility.
ThoughtFull solves this through localization of mental health in Asia, i.e. native language offerings (English, Bahasa Malaysia, Bahasa Indonesia, Mandarin, and Cantonese), diverse representation of coaches, and an integrated healthcare system.
(7) Mismatch of patients and providers:
Up to 79% of antidepressants are prescribed by primary care providers rather than psychiatrists who are specialized in mental illness treatment.
Brave Health uses data-driven, evidence-based assessment to match users to the right providers and treatment.
BetterHelp and DoMental match therapists with patients through virtual platforms.
4. Business models & monetization
(1) Content productization:
Most common in self-care meditation apps that focus on non-treatment use cases, i.e. stress, sleep, relaxation, and breathing.
Companies can package text, audio, video, or user-generated content and turn them into paid content.
Productization of mental health content includes: original or third-party sound libraries, guided meditation, relaxation music, breathing exercises, white noises, educational resources, live events, private discussions, and communities.
Headspace costs $69.99 per year (general); $9.99 per year (Student Plan) and $99 per year (Family Plan) to access sleep, meditation, exercise, and focus content.
Companies match consumers with therapists — and(or) connect with employers, insurance partners, and other stakeholders in the ecosystem to facilitate value exchange.
For example, Headway makes free access for users and therapists on the platform but takes a commission from the insurance providers for their policies.
(3) Enterprise model:
Most common in platforms that offer mental health services to employees through the employers in the form of employee benefits and health plans.
By reaching consumer-facing users (i.e. employees) through organizations as the sales channel, employees can access mental health support at zero cost.
Spring Health, a 2 billion dollar company works with global companies and serves 2 million employees worldwide using a comprehensive approach. The company provides counseling for relationships, individuals, pediatric, and family mental health.
The opposite of the enterprise and marketplace model whereby companies build, market, and sell wellness solutions directly to end consumers, without intermediaries or insurance coverage.
The revenue source of the D2C model comes from end consumers paying for the services.
Why shifting costs to end-users is better? Companies don’t have to “wait” for insurance companies to provide the best care. As a result, consistent costs and quality control.
Ro Mind costs $85/month that includes online assessment for anxiety and depression, customized treatment plans, prescription medication, ongoing check-ins, and self-guided virtual sessions.
Cerebral charges users an $85/month subscription for assessments, video/phone appointments with therapists, ongoing counseling, and medication delivery.
5. What are the next big things?
(1) Biomarker mental health hardware:
Wearables are going beyond measuring heart rate, stress, and breathing data.
In fact, wearables are starting to monitor and interpret neurological (brain waves) and behavioral data (voice, speech, interaction).
Solutions that look like “portable mental health labs” will become a new category.
Feel’s emotional sensor wristband can detect anxiety and depression–and then provide personalized advice, tools, exercises, and online therapy sessions.
Mindstrong analyzes the way you use the smartphone and turns them into objective measures of brain function.
(2) API-driven mental healthcare:
The global healthcare API market is estimated to reach USD 351.68 million by 2028.
Solutions that provide better data flow across the mental healthcare ecosystem will increase workflow productivity and fill the gap for “low code” automation.
Use cases include: (1) integrate wearable data and share with practitioners for precise treatment (2) help clinicians streamline appointments, payments, and medical records (3) help insurance providers work with businesses.
Kintsugi’s voice biomarker API provides practitioners with real-time patients’ mental health scoring and integrates across clinical call centers, telehealth platforms, and remote patient monitoring apps.
(3) The future of mental health treatment is “no pills”:
Treatment for clinical mental illness is shifting from pharmaceutical to psychological-based or non-traditional solutions.
More companies will offer cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), ayurvedic, acupuncture, psychedelic, and holistic treatment that eliminates the root cause rather than suppressing the symptom.
Meru Health’s holistic approach focuses on the mind, body, sleep, nutrition, and physical biomarker, rather than just talk therapy.
Other niche categories to look at: mental health for parents-founders, leaders and executives, single moms, athletes, former convicts, etc.
(8) Adjacent product category will rise:
The increased demand for virtual mental healthcare also creates more new problems to be solved.
For example: where to find, compare and recommend the best therapists, psychiatrists, insurance coverage, and treatment plans.
Solutions that look like The Zebra for mental health plans, Trustpilot for therapists, and SaaS for clinicians to scale their practices (i.e. provider tools, monetization tools, automation, digital storefront) will emerge.