The New Brain Game


Mental healthcare, and how we care for our brain, is getting a closer look.

  • Over 40% of adults report that the pandemic has had a serious, sustained impact on their mental wellness.
  • Last December, the US Surgeon General issued an urgent advisory requiring a swift, coordinated response to the building youth mental health crisis.
  • 1 in 5 adults in the US experience mental illness each year, or about 50 million people across the country.

As exploding demand exacerbates the shrink shortage, we’re reaching a breaking point.

Outside the Box

Digital mental healthcare is nothing new. Investors have poured billions into the space over the past several years. But a budding wave of startups, from hypnotherapy to insomnia tech, are looking to tackle the crisis from unique angles.

You’re getting sleepy… Growing evidence shows that hypnotherapy, which aims to facilitate a state of deeper psychological processing, can help patients overcome everything from depression to chronic pain. Self-hypnosis apps like Reveri ($1.8M) and Mindset ($5M) are looking to launch into the mainstream.

Designer therapy. A common critique, generalized mental health apps can start to feel too cookie cutter. Different demographics face different life stressors, and a few startups are honing in on select markets.

  • In January 2021, Hurdle raised a $5M seed for its culturally sensitive digital health platform for People of Color.
  • Intellect just raised $10M to scale care across APAC countries, while ThoughtFull secured $1.1M to bolster mental health in Southeast Asia.
  • Mantra Health, a digital mental health clinic targeting young adults, raised a $22M Series A in January.

Fried. Taking a toll, the American economy is losing $210B a year from absenteeism, reduced productivity, and medical costs associated with mental health concerns.

Stepping up, Dawn Health and Revery ($2M) are targeting insomnia with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) programs. Big Health, behind digital therapeutics for insomnia (Sleepio) and anxiety (Daylight), just raised $75M. Honing in on burnout, Quan just raised $1.15M to lend HR help for their employees.

Brain pills. Distinct from antidepressant meds, braincare startups are manufacturing pills to combat mental clarity, sleep quality, and stress. BRAINLUXURY just nabbed $8.1M for its brain wave-optimizing formula, Heights raised $2M for its subscription brain health care, and hims & hers launched mental wellness supplements.

Big picture: Across the mental health landscape, startups are beginning to acknowledge that solutions to mental health aren’t one-size-fits-all. Calm and Headspace are quickly catching on, making moves to create integrated experiences beyond meditation. And as the psychedelic space heats up, expect lots more innovation to come.