Insights

Seven companies tackling the growing problems within mental health

In honour of Mental Health Awareness Week, ClearlySo's Healthcare & Well-being Sector Leads have put together a list highlighting 7 amazing companies innovating in the mental health space:

By Carl Bergholtz & Tendai Nhachi, Sector Leads for Healthcare & Well-being · May 22, 2020

Mental health relates to the psychological and emotional well-being of an individual. Mental disorders comprise a broad range of problems characterised by some combination of abnormal thoughts, behaviour and relationships with others. More familiar examples include schizophrenia, depression, intellectual disabilities, and disorders due to drug use. Nevertheless, because the spectrum of mental health is very wide – as  most mental health problems are not easily defined as well as the inherent stigma attached to having a mental disorder of any kind, not all people will admit to having a defined mental illness; driving the conclusion that there are more people with mental health disorders than otherwise reported. A study conducted in 2018 shows that the NHS is struggling to cope with the rising demand for mental healthcare with patients having to face long delays to access treatment.[1] Areas of concern include support for pregnant women and new mothers, depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts in children and adults.

This is especially concerning considering the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. There has been a rise in reported mental health problems arising from pandemic-related lockdowns and social distancing requirements. It is safe to conclude that coronavirus can be expected to eventually drive the United Kingdom into mental health crisis as months spent under lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic could have a devastating impact on our mental health. A spike in anxiety, depression and abuse cases reported in the United Kingdom during this lockdown provides an indication for this basis. Several CEOs for mental health focused companies that we have been talking to over the past couple of months have told us about a significant increase in the demand for their digital therapy solutions because of anxiety attached to coronavirus and the resulting lockdown.

Mental health is not always evident in people but the consequences of not addressing mental health disorders in a timely manner can be damaging not only to the individual but to those around him or her as well. Investment in mental health is therefore particularly important but the issue is not reflected in the amounts invested in the sector in previous years. Recently, however, there has been an increase in the amount of investment being channelled towards mental health related companies, yet the numbers are still lower than expected. Octopus Ventures has published a new study that shows that investment into global mental health technology exceeded half a billion pounds in 2019.[2]

We believe there is an unaddressed impact investment opportunity in mental health and therefore we have outlined seven companies that, we believe, are making a notable contribution to solving the mental health and wellbeing problems that we have been seeing.

 

Companies to watch:[3]

Headquarters: London, UK                         Founded: 2015

eQuoo is an emotional fitness choose-your-own adventure game that teaches you psychological skills. It uses psychoeducation, gamification and storytelling to enhance resilience and act preventatively for destructive cognitive and emotional reasoning (such as generalization). The company’s end-goal is to create a fun intervention game that is evidence-based.

Headquarters: Malmö, Sweden                 Founded: 2016

Flow is a medical device company developing a medication-free, medical grade headset designed to offer treatment for depression. The company’s device combines brain simulation with behavioural therapy in a fully automated mobile application based on peer-reviewed scientific literature, enabling individuals to address both the physical and behavioural elements of depression at their own pace in the comfort of their home.

Headquarters: Cambridge, UK                   Founded: 2000

IESO is a developer of digital health platform designed to access clinically proven mental health care in the community. The company’s platform is based on evidence-based cognitive behavioural therapy that uses proprietary technology, augmented with natural language processing and artificial intelligence, to offer real-time monitoring of therapist protocol adherence and risk detection, while providing guidance to the therapist in relation to clinical decision support to systemize practice and reduce variation in treatment, enabling therapists and health providers to accelerate commercialization and product development activities at the lowest cost.

Headquarters: Barcelona, Spain                Founded: 2013

Psious is a developer of a virtual reality platform designed to bring value to mental health treatment. The company’s platform uses hyper-realistic virtual environments to treat anxiety disorders by means of virtual exposure therapy, enabling professionals to improve mental health therapies.

Headquarters: Cambridge, UK                   Founded: 2015

Psyomics is developing unique technology to radically improve the way mental health conditions are assessed and triaged. Drawing on both psychiatric and psychological expertise, their digital diagnostic tools provide every patient access to a complete mental health review up front. Their aim is to revolutionise the way mental health conditions are identified and diagnosed, increasing clinical capacity and helping patients to access the right level of support, first time, every time.

Headquarters: London, UK                         Founded: 2012

Thrive is a developer of emotional applications designed to treat mental health problems. The company’s application track specific stressors in the workplace with secure, anonymous, aggregate user data for detailed breakdowns on depression and anxiety screenings to support the wellbeing of the entire organization, enabling individuals to prevent, detect early and treat stress, anxiety, depression and phobias.

Headquarters: London, UK                         Founded: 2016

Unmind is a developer of a workplace mental health platform intended to assess the mental well-being of the employees. The company’s proactive approach offers scientifically backed tools and training for healthier, happier, more human organizations, helping employees maintain their mental wellbeing including exercises, assessments and customized programs to help with specific issues like sleep, stress and concentration.

 

[1] The state of health care and adult social care in England 2018/19, Care Quality Commission, October 2019

[2] Global investment in mental health technology surges above half a billion pounds, January 2020

[3] Company information and data provided by PitchBook Data, Inc