At least 1 in 5 people will experience mental illness at any time.
Yet for many, treatment is prohibitive due to long-waiting lists for mental health professionals, hospital bed shortages, and medication that comes with adverse side effects.
The notion of mental wellbeing has widened to include social determinants of health and emotional wellbeing, with as much effort put into the cause and prevention of illness and treatment.
Mental health startups are looking at mental wellness from various angles, including leading research into new pharmacological therapies, personalised diagnostics and treatments, and telehealth. The approach is evidence lead and solution-focused, underpinned by valuable partnerships with clinicians and academic researchers to create life-changing results.
And investments are booming, let's take a look at the most funded companies over the last few years:
Alan is a one-stop employee health service offering "personalised access to information, proactive care, care delivery, payment and post-care."
Following the mental health app Jour acquisition in 2021, the company launched Alan Mind app to broaden mental health and wellbeing offerings. The app takes a comprehensive look at mental health, from preventing psychosocial risks to ongoing individual support.
Alan raised €493 million, including €183 million in Series E in 2022.
atai Life Sciences (Germany)
atai is a biopharmaceutical company that leverages a decentralised platform approach to incubate and accelerate the development of highly effective pharmaceutical treatments for complex mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and addiction.
An example of its work is a clinical study into PCN-101 (R-ketamine) as an alternative treatment to slow-acting antidepressants and treatment-resistant depression.
The company is also exploring the use of RL-007 to treat the cognitive impairments associated with conventional treatment for schizophrenia is also underway. RL-007 (a GABA / nicotinic modulator) is a small molecule that modulates the excitatory/inhibitory balance in the brain to improve learning and memory.
atai Life Sciences has raised $522.1 million in funding over rounds. It most recently raised Series D funding ($225 million) from an IPO.
Compass Pathways (UK)
Compass Pathways is a mental health care company dedicated to accelerating patient access to evidence-based pharmaceutical innovation in mental health.
The Company pioneers the development of a new model of psilocybin therapy, in which our proprietary formulation of synthetic psilocybin, COMP360, for use in treatment-resistant depression (TRD), is administered in conjunction with psychological support. It completed a phase 2b clinical trial of psilocybin therapy for TRD in 22 sites across Europe and North America was the largest randomised, controlled, double-blind psilocybin therapy clinical trial ever conducted.
Patients who received a single high dose of COMP360 psilocybin with psychological support showed an improvement in depressive symptom severity after three weeks. The company is also trialling the use of COMP360 psilocybin therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder and anorexia nervosa.
Workplace wellness company Founded in 2016, Unmind is a whole-person, whole-organisation approach to wellbeing transformation.
Unmind is a mental health platform that empowers staff to improve their mental wellbeing proactively. Using scientifically-backed assessments, tools and training, customers can measure and manage their mental health needs, including digital programmes designed to help with stress, sleep, coping, connection, fulfilment and nutrition.
Koa Health (Spain)
Koa Health is a digital-first approach to workplace wellness grounded in science and evidence-based techniques from cognitive behavioural science, mindfulness and positive psychology. It delivers digital resources to facilitate good mental health. Its central app Koa Foundations, focuses on wellness and prevention and includes digital activities to reduce stress, improve sleep and promote relaxation.
Another app, Mindset, helps individuals better understand and live well with depression by offering cognitive behavioural therapy-based techniques to complement in-person treatment.
It has patents into not only mental health, but also the tech that underpins digital health services. It has a robust research foundation that includes sharing and publishing its findings with peer-reviewed journals and industry conferences to increase the knowledge of the larger scientific community.
Koa Health has raised a total of €44.1 million in funding over two rounds, including €30 million from a Series A round in 2021.
Beckley Psytech (UK)
Founded in 2019, Beckley Psytech is a private, clinical-stage biotechnology company dedicated to improving the lives of people suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders by developing a pipeline of psychedelic compounds into licensed pharmaceutical medicines.
The company's most advanced programmes focus on developing BPL-003, an intranasal synthetic formulation of 5-MeO-DMT, for treatment-resistant depression and ELE-101, an intravenous synthetic formulation of psilocin, the active metabolite of psilocybin, for major depressive disorder.
Beckley Psytech has raised €94 million (£84 million) over five rounds, including €49 million in 2021.
ieso is turning real-world clinical data into digital services. Founded in 2000, the company is developing AI-driven, evidence-based mental health solutions to democratise access to mental health therapy at scale.
The company currently provides typed therapy to more than 20 million adults through the UK National Health Service (NHS), including therapist-led online CBT programmes for anxiety, stress, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), phobias, sleep problems and social anxiety.
ieso's research is published in numerous peer-reviewed journals, increasing industry understanding of scalable digital mental healthcare solutions.
Mindfulness and meditation apps are big business. Meditopia was founded in 2015 and is the world's most popular mental wellness platform for non-English speakers. Part mental coach, part meditation retreat, it services over 30 million members in 12 different languages.
In 2021, Meditopia launched 'Meditopia For Work', a series of tailored mental health solutions for companies ranging from one-to-one coaching sessions with employees to comprehensive support to the HR teams.
Moka.care is a digital-first mental health company that offers B2B virtual therapy sessions, an employee wellness tracking platform, and other mindfulness products.
The company was founded in 2020 and facilitates digital and in-person individual and group therapy with qualified therapists and certified coaches.
Unobravo is an innovative online psychology group formed by a diversified team of psychologists who work only via video call.
The company has access to over 2000 psychologists who have carried out more than 500,000 sessions.
The company has raised €17.2 million in funding over three rounds, including €17 million from a 2022 Series A round.
Companies to watch:
Mindpax.me is a leading digital therapeutics tools company tackling bipolar disorder. Founded in 2015, it focuses on improving the clinical conditions and quality of life for people with bipolar using a combination of long-term symptom monitoring and targeted psychoeducation.
Digital therapeutics currently manage conditions such as diabetes, heart problems, and neurological conditions like Parkinson's Disease.
When used in conjunction with medication by people with bipolar, digital therapeutics can be a great supplement that helps patients, doctors, and carers understand the symptoms of mental disorders more and therefore make better decisions faster.
HMNC Brain Health (Germany)
HMNC Brain Health is a clinical-stage precision psychiatry biopharma company pioneering the development of personalised therapies powered by its AI platform and predictive companion diagnostics suite.
The company develops a unique pipeline for targeting both Major Depressive Disorder and Treatment-Resistant Depression, leading to far shorter treatments and higher remission.
Its work includes a joint venture with Develco Pharma, where it is developing an oral-prolonged release formulation of racemic ketamine that combines the rapid efficacy of ketamine with superior tolerability and convenience to provide an enhanced treatment option for TRD.
Lead image; Keenan Constance.