Predictably, the pandemic is causing a devastating wave of mental health issues. The advocacy group Mental Health America recently reported that the number of people seeking help for depression and panic attacks has increased dramatically over the past few months. This, in turn, is leading to burgeoning numbers of individuals and digital tools offering help and advice in the field of mental wellbeing.
Having examined a cross section of this offering, the general advice boils down to this (in no particular order): (1) Talk to friends and relatives regularly and often; (2) Each day find enough time for “intentional solitude”—undistracted from the news and the “noise” of social media—to think about purpose and meaning; (3) Adopt regular exercise and movement; (4) Expose yourself to nature as much as possible; and (5) Be empathetic and generous, and express gratitude.
Over the past five years in the US, venture funding has gone up by 400% for products and services focused on mental health. In light of the above, VC funding for mental wellbeing will most likely increase even more in the coming years.
In Q3 of this year, the amount invested in mental health start-ups was a record $1.37 billion. Another record: the national telehealth leader (Amwell) listed at $4 billion in September (the first unicorn among the mental health start-ups) and is valued at $7 billion today. The market is currently comprised of (1) platforms like Amwell and Talkspace that connect users with therapists and (2) apps like Calm, Headspace, Buddhify and 10% Happier that deliver meditation and relaxation solutions for a subscription fee.
Both groups will do well for one obvious reason: the rising interest among large global companies to support the mental health and wellness of their employees via digital tools. A few months ago, for example, Starbucks offered all its US employees and their families free therapy sessions through a digital platform. Many others will now follow.