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February 2020

News In Startups

AxialHealthcare, a care optimization company navigating SUD issues for patients, providers, and payers, closed a $15M Series C to accelerate its expansion into SUD treatment and recovery sector, led by Oak HC/FT, .406 Ventures, BCBSVP, Sandbox Advantage Fund.
 
Boulder raises $10.5M to expand access to opioid addiction treatment; Series A investors include Tusk Ventures, Greycroft Partners, First Round, Acumen, BoxGroup, SV Angel, and Andrey Ostrovsky, MD.
 
Virtual reality therapy startup OxfordVR announced a $12.5M in Series A led by OptumVentures and LuminousVC to further its research and development into VR-based therapy programs.
 
Headspace, a mindfulness and meditation startup, announced it raised $93M in a Series C round, which includes $53M in equity and $40M in debt.
 
Chrys Bader-Wechseler reflects when asked about the bullying that went down on the anonymous app Secret he co-founded in 2013. After $35M raised, 15M users and a spectacular flame out two years later, the startup was dead.
 
British startup UnMind raises $10M for workplace mental health app from Berlin-based Project A and Felix Capital.
 
Vator News interviews Tim Blevins, SVP of Behavioral Health at UnitedHealth Group’s Optum, offers behavioral health startups advice on who to talk to and how to integrate into massive corporations like UHG.
 
Global advocacy nonprofit Made of Millions announced a new platform for digital mental health media and live-streamed programming (and ReThink BHI Co-Author Solome joins the board).
 
Vinaj’s Telosity youth mental health tech fund announces seed investment into Flipd, the digital wellness company that’s engineering well-being, by nudging people to be happier, healthier, and more productive with their time.
 
Headstream, the youth mental health tech accelerator, announces finalists for their first startup cohort.
 
NYC Well reveals new app library with reviews of apps and online tools to help consumers manage their health and emotional wellbeing.
 
CORI Innovation Fund makes Opportunity Zone investment in behavioral health startup Voi; Voi relocates to the Opportunity Zone in Springfield, VT.
 
Carrot Health, a leading provider of healthcare solutions powered by social determinants of health, has been named Top Innovator in the ⁦Accenture Health’s ⁩HealthTech Innovation Challenge.
 
Henry Jones, CEO of online mental health services provider ⁦Big White Wall (US),⁩ writes about the need for good, cost-effective solutions to address mental health conditions.
 
One Drop snags Sanofi's digital diabetes head plus new behavioral science VP.
 
Virtual behavioral health care company AbleTo Health will open an office in South Florid and hire 100 employees, according to Newmark Knight Frank.
 
Global investment in mental health technology surges above half a billion pounds, according to UK-based Octopus Ventures.
 
Wellin5 acquires Therachat, marking its entry in the US telehealth market.
 
Electronic Caregiver, a 24/7 virtual care and health technology company, and Mindyra, an innovative digital behavioral healthcare company, team up to improve lives of patients with mental illness.
 
Cognoa has entered a new partnership with Autism Learning Partners (ALP) that will provide parents with the Cognoa for Child Development app.
 
XenZone⁩, the UK's largest provider of online mental health services, including the renowned Kooth service for children and young people, has appointed Tim Barker as its new chief executive.
 
A center comprised of 19 acres of private woodlands dedicated to tech addiction recovery is slated to open next month. It will provide a natural environment conducive to healthy, therapeutic experiences, so participants can enjoy an alternative to the technological world.
 
The AeBeZe Labs app, Moodrise, provides a glimpse into how troops might be monitored for anxiety and depression in space, and the most harmful effects of mental illness staved off.
 
The mayor’s Chief Technology Officer is looking for tech-based solutions to housing discrimination and Latinx mental health problems in upper Manhattan, calling for applications from startups and tech companies worldwide to address the two problems.

Spotlight: 2020 Predictions
We’re putting a spotlight on new and interesting startups, initiatives, and trends in digital behavioral health in each month’s edition of ReThink: Behavioral Health Innovation. In this issue, we speak with Kevin Dedner, the Founder & CEO of Henry Health.

Solome: Kevin, please tell us more about Henry Health?
     Before I tell you about Henry Health, I have to tell you how the company was founded. It was really through a series of life events. It all started with the acquittal of George Zimmerman. I had terrible headaches as I was processing the outcome. That led me to begin researching the stress associated with being black and its impact on health. My work revealed that unmanaged stress and mental health issues were silent killers of black men. I was astonished to learn how stress impacts our body and I felt very compelled to do something.

     At that time, I was leading a public health consulting firm and our senior policy lead, Dr. Ashley White, and I started thinking aloud. We thought about doing everything from writing a book to launching a national survey. As life would have it, I experienced a period of depression during that time and saw three therapists before I found one who I felt was a good fit. As I was recovering from my depression, a close colleague, Oliver Sims, asked to meet with me. Oliver had been doing some angel investing and knew he wanted to help start a health technology company. When we spoke, a light went off, and I knew that all that I had experienced had brought me to this moment. Henry Health was born out of that conversation.
     Henry Health is a disruptive platform created to arrest the toxic stress, depression, and anxiety killing too many black men too soon. Our digital community provides self-mastery support and culturally sensitive teletherapy to black men so they can show up whole, operate with joy, and live with power. Members move towards this power by utilizing resources including meditations, daily inspirational messages, and remote access to therapy. We are aggressively serving black men, who have the lowest life expectancy of any adult subgroup in the US. Changing the health of black men improves their economic and social potential and will ultimately change the world.


Steve: How is Henry Health leveraging digital technologies to "rethink" how behavioral health services are delivered to this underserved community?
     We exist to ensure black men can show up whole, operate with joy, and live with power. That’s just not a catchy phrase for us. We are leveraging technology to cultivate a virtual safe space with culturally intentional content and services that support self-mastery and wellbeing. Henry Health members will have the ability to track their wellbeing over time. We hope to learn from their progress and use that insight to inform the development of new features and services that support their continued healing and self-mastery. 
 
Solome: What kinds of organizations are you typically working with?
     Our intention is to partner with organizations that share our commitment to reducing stigma, improving access to culturally sensitive mental health services, and extending the life expectancy of black men. In January, we released a Call for Partners in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. We are now working with multiple nonprofits, health systems, churches, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the region to design Pioneer Programs. Through these programs, groups of individuals will have the opportunity to beta test the Henry app and provide feedback to our team. Since there is historic distrust of medical systems and stigma associated with mental health in the black community, building a brand worthy of trust is an absolute must. We are purposefully working with other organizations that have a proven track record of supporting black men in order to do this effectively.
 
Steve: How can our subscriber community of MCOs, VCs, and other stakeholders help you?
     I would encourage your stakeholders to read our Call for Partners and reach out to us if there is alignment. We are also actively raising a financing round and on target to close the round in March, which means we are also open to connecting with members of the angel and seed-stage investor community.
 
Editor’s note: February is Black History month. Read a note from Victor Armstrong, MSW, Vice President of Behavioral Health for Atrium Health, and a member of the National Council's Board of Directors: What Does Black History Month Mean to Me?

Tech-Enabled Care Delivery

Managers and younger employees are struggling to adapt as a generation of people with higher rates of reported mental illness enter the workforce.
 
Behavioral health services delivered via telemedicine now account for nearly one-third of all telemedicine visits, according to a review of 2019 claims data by Excellus BCBS.
 
Read more about the top 3 data challenges to addressing the social determinants of health.
 
Stress less: tech companies in the mental health space are finally going mainstream, via Forbes.
 
While mental health counseling is available on most college campuses, the stigma around mental health can keep students away from the help they need. This is why researchers at Texas A&M are developing evidence-based services to help manage students’ mental health.
 
Virtual reality makes empathy training scalable. Now, companies are trying to measure how well it works.
 
JoAnn Difede, professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, talks about experience working with a simulated digital therapy for PTSD patients and how it led to her current work on VR therapeutics.
 
Telepsychiatry brings mental health care to rural areas and underserved communities where trained professionals are in short supply.
 
Psychiatrists urged lawmakers to support the expansion of telepsychiatry and to remove barriers to care for patients in remote and underserved areas.
 
After several years of recognizing sleep’s role in productivity and controlling healthcare costs, some employers are actively giving employees tools to do something about it, taking advantage of new hardware and apps to affect behavioral changes.
 
The Humana Foundation announced it is investing $7.6M in eight communities across the southeastern United States to address social determinants of health.

Tools & Technology

Would you tell your innermost secrets to Alexa? How AI therapists could save you time and money on mental health care.

Does time spent using digital technology and social media have an adverse effect on mental health, especially that of adolescents? Here, two scientists discuss the question and how digital devices might be used to improve well-being, via Nature.

Snapchat revealed a new mental health tool that connects users with expert resources when they search potentially triggering topic. The goal of Snapchat 's new mental health tool, Here For You, is to provide proactive resources in the app for those “who may be experiencing a mental health or emotional crisis.”

It’s increasingly clear that the microbiome influences mental and physical health. Now, scientists have taken this topic a step further and linked the microbiome to the likelihood of specific personalities.

Can AI support youth mental health? UT researchers explore whether artificial intelligence can help identify teens and young adults at risk for mental health problems by ethically following their online footprint.

Online communities deserve protection from harm as well. In this article, Dr. Nina Vasan, MD and Dr. Neha Chaudhary, MD of Stanford Brainstorm argue that social media companies should start safeguarding their users, especially teens, from harm on their platform.

Video-game therapy may help treat ADHD, study finds.

A Denver startup is developing a software add-on that will help identify gamers that are struggling with mental health issues and get them help.

A University of Nottingham spin-out says its AI-powered technology uses a phone’s camera to spot physical changes caused by mental illness.

PMAC, mental health training and wellbeing professionals, discuss the link between social media and mental health, highlighting that the blame may lie with humanity rather than technology and how we can make a change.

How bad is tech use for kids, really? Nir Eyal discusses here.

'The Biggest Classroom': How tech and mental health help craft the next generation of physical education.

Bring on the GIFs! Can depression memes be a coping mechanism for people with mental illness?

Finally...

Are you going to be attending NatCon20 in Austin this April? Respond back to this email if you or your company is interested in getting together with Steve, Solome and other behavioral health startups, investors, health plans and providers!

Got a tip? If you have newsworthy information about a behavioral health tech or a startup, please respond back to this email and we'll be in touch.
ReThink Co-Authors
Solome Tibebu is a digital health investor, behavioral health technology strategist, and a mental health advocate. Solome is the founder of Cognific, a behavioral health consulting firm for healthcare and human service organizations, funds, and technology vendors. Prior to Cognific, Solome worked in corporate development, served in enterprise behavioral health EHR sales, ran a mental health tech startup, and has been developing healthcare startup communities since 2012. Solome is an advisor to several companies and national non-profits, and is the founder of AnxietyInTeens.org
Steven Ramsland, Ed.D. has more than 25 years of experience in the development and delivery of health and human service programs. He has held senior leadership positions in the development of several innovative service systems including a Medicare Shared Savings Program ACO, a primary care provider network, several national managed behavioral health companies, and innovative community programming. Dr. Ramsland is CEO of Catalyst Health Resources, Venture Partner at FundRx, Health Tech Advisor at Dreamit Ventures, and adviser to a number of behavioral health tech startups.
Sabrina M. Woodlief serves as the Senior Project Specialist, aiding in the creation and preparation of high quality deliverables. She conducts primary and secondary research, analyzes qualitative and quantitative data, trends, and marketing strategies, synthesizes complex data into understandable results, and edits deliverables for style, grammar, punctuation, spelling, and syntax.
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