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2018 on track to be record-breaking year for mental and wellness startups

The amount of funding into these companies doubled from 2014 to 2017

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
June 15, 2018
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/4ba9

The conversation around mental health has seen a significant shift in recent years, and there are two things that seem to have led to that change.

One was the rise of school shootings, which, along with the ensuing debate over gun control, also led to a debate about the underlying cause of such behavior. Everyone seems to agree that it's no longer in our best interest to have a stigma around mental illness, and the more open we are about it the less likely we are to have incidents such as Newtown or Parkland. 

The real turning point, though, came -- as it so often does in America -- in the form of celebrity: the 2014 suicide of Robin Williams, and the resulting backlash in how his daughter was treated on social media, seems now, in retrospect, to have been the straw that broke the camel's back.

Williams is not the first celebrity to have ended his life, but the fact that a man who brought so much joy to so many could be suffering so much in private caused an epiphany for a lot people. It changed the way people look at depression and suffering. The recent suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain have only compounded the effect. 

As a result of the more open conversation around mental illness, the tech world has taken notice. The amount of funding going into the mental and behaviorial health space has gone up ever year since 2014, when there was $118.32 million put into 38 companies, according to data supplied to VatorNews from CB Insights.

In 2015, the amount of funding rose 40 percent to $165.93 million, while the number of deals rose 45 percent, to 55.

In 2016, funding rose 36 percent, to $226.18 million, while deals went up 50 percent, to 83. Then, in 2017, funding rose another 39 percent, to $316.53 million, while deals remained flat at 83.

That means that from 2014 to 2017, the amount invested in mental and behavioral health startups rose 167 percent, while the number of deals went up 118 percent. 

The numbers are only continuing to rise: tn the first quarter of 2018, there was $146.82 million invested. If that trend continues, there would be $587.28 invested this year, an increase of 85 percent year-to-year. 

Next week, Vator and HP will be holding an event on the rise of these startups and how they are helping patients with their mental health problems. Get tickets here! We'll talk about why existing assumptions about treatment are failing and what those assumptions are. We'll talk about how we diagnose for at-risk people may also be a problem. And we'll talk about the faulty economics that push clinicians to prescribe medications because they can make more money in one hour prescribing to three patients vs sitting down with one for the full hour. 

Recent investments in the mental and behavioral health space

Some of the companies in the space that have raised funding in the last few years include Joyable, a solution for overcoming social anxiety, which raised $8 million in 2015, for a total of $10.1 million.

Lantern, provider of mobile and Web programs for mental health wellness, raised $17 million in 2016, bringing its total to $21.4 million, while AbleTo, a provider of technology-enabled behavioral health care, raised $36.6 million in August of last year, bringing its total funding to $36.6 million. meQuilibrium, which offers online stress management solutions and measurements, raised $9 million in 2015, bringing its total to $14.3 million. Pear Therapeutics, which is focused on the development of prescription digital therapeutics, raised a $50 million round in January, bringing its total to $70 million, and Tripp, a provider of transformative digital experiences to change the way you feel, raised $4 million in Septembr 2017.

Lymbix, a provider of virtual reality to treat addictions and depression, has raised $3.5 million, while MindMaze, which used VR to gamify stroke rehabilitation, has raised $108.5 million, including a $100 million round in 2016. 

In January of this year, Quartet Health, a technology company focused on improving behavioral health delivery, raised $45 million, bringing its total to $92 million, and in May, Lyra Health, a provider of a platform to identify people at risk of behavioral and mental health conditions, raised a $45 million round to bring its total to $83.1 million. Mindstrong Health, which is using behavioral on your cellphone as a cognitive assessment tool, has raised $29 million, including $15 million earlier this month.

A good number of startups, though, do not specialize in mental/behavioral health but offer it as one of their features or services. That includes Iora Health, which has raised $223.3 million, including a $100 million round in May; and Doctor On Demand, which has raised $160.7 million, including a $74 million round in April.

(Image source: financialtribune.com)


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