The world’s focus on mental health has been intensified by the coronavirus pandemic, with lockdown having had significant and widespread negative impacts on mental wellbeing across the globe. Not only are mental health problems on the rise, but mental wellbeing is also increasingly accepted to be an integral part of all-round employee health—and, more often than not, an integral part of workplace productivity. It’s no coincidence that mental health is now included in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Mental health support is now well and truly on the corporate map. Demand for solutions is on the rise and, perhaps unsurprisingly, ambitious new mental health startups are coming up with innovative solutions. In this post, we’ve profiled 22 of the UK’s up-and-coming mental health and wellbeing startups. From AI psychotherapy to female-focused hypnotherapy, these companies are tackling employee burnout, preventing mental illness and successfully matching the increased demand for mental health care.
1. Ieso Digital Health
Total funds raised: £27.8m
Ieso Digital Health (previously trading under PsychologyOnline) provides online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for the treatment of common mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety and other disorders. One-on-one therapy can be accessed through the NHS or via self-referral.
Ieso has over 700 accredited CBT therapists and offers clinically-validated treatment for depression. The therapy is based on the idea that thoughts and beliefs impact feelings and behaviour, and equips patients with the tools needed to combat negative thought patterns.
The Cambridge-based company was registered in 2000 and has been led by CEO and ex-venture capitalist Nigel Pitchford since 2019. To date, it has raised almost £28m of investment across seven funding rounds, as well as a £453k grant from Innovate UK to explore cognitive and behavioural biomarkers for the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions. Investors include Ananda Impact Ventures, Cambridge Angels and Clearly Social Angels (CSA).
2. Oxford VR
Total funds raised: £14m
Oxford VR is a startup which develops virtual reality software designed to be used in the treatment of mental health issues. Since being founded in 2016, the company has raised an impressive £14m through three funding rounds. Its latest round, in February last year, totalled £9m at a pre-money valuation of £11m.
Run by a team of clinical experts and experienced industry professionals, Oxford VR is at the forefront of mental health technology. Its products, which are more cost effective and efficient than traditional treatments for mental illness, are targeted at both consumers and the public sector. As well as a fear of heights treatment, the company is currently developing programmes for depression and anxiety disorders, including OCD and social anxiety.
Total funds raised: £5.31m
Founded in 2015, PsyOmics is developing new ways to diagnose mental health disorders, reducing misdiagnosis and accelerating time to treatment. A Cambridge University spinout, PsyOmics is looking to streamline mental health treatment and optimise clinical capacity, while providing personalised care for patients.
The company has undertaken five fundraising rounds so far, raising more than £5.31m from backers including BGF Growth Capital and the University of Cambridge Enterprise Fund. Its latest fundraising totalled £1.5m and valued the company at £6.5m. Censeo, their comprehensive digital mental health assessment platform, is used by GP practices across the country and allows health care providers to access an in-depth, psychiatric level review of every patient, within their own service. PsyOmics aims to increase clinical capacity, reduce operating costs and improve outcomes for patients, all across the UK.
Total funds raised: £4.1m
Set up by trained psychiatrist Andres Fonseca, Thrive develops interactive mobile apps which are designed to help employers manage their employees’ mental health. It can detect, track and help manage mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety and phobias. From meditation and thought training to sleep improvement, the NHS approved smartphone app is designed to help anyone improve their mental health remotely.
Thrive has undertaken five fundraising rounds so far, the last of which took place in March this year and raised £2.9m at a pre-money valuation of nearly £7m. Since being founded in 2012, Thrive has enabled thousands of employees to easily get the vital help they need in a confidential and effective way.
Total funds raised: £3m
Fintech, but make it mental health. Founded three years ago in 2018, MasLife is a financial management platform that puts the focus on mental health and wellbeing. Raising £3m at its latest funding round in February this year, MasLife looks to balance users’ financial, mental and physical health by promoting a greater understanding of their own habits and behaviours.
MasLife was born out of the belief that in order to live a healthier—and wealthier—lifestyle, people need to find ways of understanding how day-to-day decisions make an impact on their financial wellbeing. MasLife helps users harness this knowledge to make calm, confident and stress-free financial choices—improving both their finances and their mental wellbeing.
Total funds raised: £2.76m
Spill develops software that allows users to access mental health support from counsellors through online video, over the phone or by messaging. The service is offered entirely through business messaging app Slack. The app identifies which employees need extra emotional support by asking them four questions via the slack app, and then allows them to book a therapy session. Any employee can ask a therapist a question and access mindfulness tools and exercises at any time.
First incorporated in 2017, the company has since gone on to raise £2.76m of equity investment across three rounds. Its most recent raise took place in January 2021 and totalled £2m. The round was completed at a pre-money valuation of £6.84m and was backed by Seedcamp, Ada Ventures and the Government’s Future Fund.
Total funds raised: £2.32m
TalkLife has developed an online support network where young people with mental health issues can interact with one another, and also with healthcare professionals and clinicians. A year after its launch in 2013, TalkLife entered the Bethnal Green Ventures accelerator programme. It has gone through eight funding rounds to date, the latest of which raised more than £723k at a pre-money valuation of £6.5m.
TalkLife is run by a global team of clinicians, engineers and designers, partnered with an impressive team of researchers from Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Microsoft Research. It’s mental health platform markets itself as a safe and engaging place for young people across the UK to meet like minded, supportive people and improve their mental health.
Total funds raised: £1.4m
The world’s first live mental health platform, MindLabs is developing a mobile app which provides a range of mental health related content and services to users across the globe. With backers including Passion Capital, Seedcamp and the brains behind Zoopla, Uber and Carwow, MindLabs raised an impressive £1.4m at its first fundraising round at a pre-money valuation of £3.7m.
As well as deep-breathing, mindfulness and meditation classes with world-class therapists, MindLabs has also developed a wearable halo, which monitors your brainwaves, heart and respiration rate, and even the tension in your muscles. It recommends workouts, techniques and can refer you to a therapist.
Total funds raised: £1m
This female-focused hypnotherapy app helps women who are feeling tired, stressed and anxious to feel calm and confident. The Clementine community aims to empower women by helping them interrupt and replace their negative thoughts with empowering ones.
After being founded in 2017, Clementine entered the We In Social Tech accelerator. Its first funding round in October 2020 then saw them secure £1m from Fortunis at a pre-money valuation of £2.9m. Described by the Guardian as one of the seven apps every woman should own, the Clementine app is aimed at busy women who want to shift their mindset and build confidence in every aspect of their lives.
10. Boutros Bear
Total funds raised: £750k
Boutros Bear helps people recovering from Cancer by providing an online health and wellbeing platform which supports them in their return to work. With 63% of cancer patients being working adults—and 20% of them facing discrimination after their return to work—this digital therapeutic platform is aimed at both employees and employers. Users have access to a 12 week programme designed to improve recovery and support the patient’s journey.
Backed by Syndicate Room, Boutros Bear is designed to promote mental wellness, increase employee retention, reduce costs and help users understand legal obligations. The company secured £750k in its latest funding round, at a pre-money valuation of £1.1m. Boutros Bear will be launching its trial programme later this month.
Total funds raised: £666k
InsideOut operates a mobile app which provides users with a curated set of self-help tools and content to help them deal with life’s challenges. The app was founded by ex-management consultant, Laura Stembridge, after she saw that many workplaces are not equipped to sufficiently support their employees’ mental health. InsideOut has so far secured £666k in funding across four rounds. Its latest fundraising, in March last year, totalled £446k at a pre-money valuation of £3.7m.
Making the case that poor mental health is costing business, InsideOut’s vision is to help employees unlock barriers to performance and improve productivity. The wellbeing app offers on-demand coaching and therapy, community events and a range of tools and education services for use in the workplace.
Total funds raised: £540k
Aya is a digital mental wellbeing companion that uses neuroscience, psychology and machine learning to help users understand how their mind works and match them with the right solutions. Co-founded by computational neuroscientist, Mandana Ahmadi, Aya was founded on the belief that existing technology solutions in the mental health space do not adequately adapt to individual needs. In response to this problem, its online support platform interacts with the individual and matches them with a personalised programme.
Founded in 2019, Aya entered the Techstars London Accelerator in September 2020. It has secured one round of funding to date, raising £540k in March 2021 at a pre-money valuation of £1.5m.
Total funds raised: £480k
Aimed at young people, the MeeToo app allows users to talk anonymously about difficult things with other people of a similar age or experience. After being founded in 2015, MeToo attended the Business Growth Programme. It has raised two funding rounds so far, the last of which raised £480k at a pre-money valuation of £5m.
As well as being able to access help for your own experiences, MeeToo’s wellbeing platform allows users to draw on their own experiences to help others. It promises a moderated safe space for young users, with all posts and replies checked before going live. With 6,000 users every month, MeeToo looks and feels like social media—but behind the scenes it is run by a team of moderators and counsellors, working hard to ensure that the platform is a safe space where every user gets adequate support.
14. Awakn Life Sciences
Total funds raised: £325k
Awakn Life Sciences is a clinical-biotech company working to bring psychedelics into mainstream mental healthcare. Founded in Bristol in 2016, Awakn Life Sciences is attempting to treat addiction by researching, developing and delivering psychedelic drugs and therapies. According to Awakn, Psychedelics have the potential to deliver better patient outcomes and radically change mental health services in the UK and EU.
Its first funding round in July 2020 raised £325k from undisclosed investors at a pre-money valuation of £612k. Awakn has multiple future revenue streams, including clinic and research revenue.
Total funds raised: £179k
Litha is a deep-tech AI company developing a revolutionary way to improve chatbots through humanlike conversation. Litha’s technology promises powerful psychotherapy that addresses the cause rather than just the symptoms of anxiety, stress and mild-moderate depression. The team behind Litha is working on AI psychometrics and psychotherapy programmes, giving employers the opportunity to be one of the first organisations to offer true psychotherapy to every single employee.
Founded in April 2019 in Leicester, Litha entered the PwC Scale Programmes accelerator the following month. It has secured two funding rounds so far, raising in £101k at a pre-money valuation of £4.4m in its latest round. After nine years of research, Litha will be completing the development of its AI psychotherapist in May 2021.
16. BlueSkeye AI
Total funds raised: £135k
Leading the way in behavioural understanding, BlueSkeye AI is developing an app designed to track the mental health of patients. Its mission is to improve wellbeing and patient outcomes by building objective, accessible, scalable and affordable mobile apps for mental health monitoring, aimed at both the public and medical professionals.
Founded in April 2019 as a spinout from the University of Nottingham, its first round of funding took place in January this year, and totalled £134k from undisclosed investors at a pre-money valuation of £1.5m. BlueSkeye AI was born out of a desire to have a positive impact on the world: it is looking to streamline healthcare provision through improved treatment recommendations and the longitudinal monitoring of patients across the globe.
17. Mindful Healthcare
Total funds raised: £111k
Providing affordable online access to world class treatment for young people with mental health issues, Mindful Healthcare is the first service of its kind. The company operates an online programme, working with family members, teachers and GPs to help young people recover from mental illness. It is looking to provide innovative technological solutions to long NHS waiting lists and the high cost of private alternatives.
Mindful provides comprehensive, integrated recovery programmes directly to those facing mental health challenges delivered through an affordable, online service. Its programme is designed to treat, educate and build resilience in young people, helping them to recover from mental health conditions as quickly as possible. Backed by Crowdcube, Mindful Healthcare has secured £111k across two funding rounds. The latest round, in march last year, totalled £21k at a pre-money valuation of £1.1m.
18. Dr Julian Medical Group
Total funds raised: £96k
Dr Julian Medical Group is an online mental healthcare and wellbeing service, providing accessible and affordable mental healthcare for both the public sector and corporate organisations. The company was founded in 2015 and has so far been through two accelerator programmes—the Business Growth Programme and the Digital Health London Accelerator. After securing £95k in its first round of fundraising in April 2018, it was featured on the London Tech 50 in 2020.
Dr Julian works with organisations to provide mental health support for employees, operating through both video and instant messaging. Its online platform brings together a range of highly experienced therapists and psychologists to provide online therapy whenever and wherever you are.
Total funds raised: £85k
Founded in 2020, Betwixt is revolutionising the way we approach mental health and helping users harness “the psychological superpower of self-awareness”, all through a smartphone adventure game. The company has raised two rounds of funding, one for £30k in April 2020, which included backing from Bethnal Green Ventures, and the second for £55k in August 2020. The latter was completed at a pre-money valuation of £675k.
The smartphone game is centred around self-reflection and promises to help users make sense of themselves by encouraging them to capture their thoughts and feelings in writing. Based in a magical world called the InBetween, the aim of the game is to escape, but the only way to do that is to face yourself. Throughout the journey, the game responds to your emotions, strengths and fears and makes real what you think.
20. Monkey Mind
Total funds raised: £50k
Founded in 2015 by mindfulness coach, hypnotherapist and psychotherapist Graham McDowell, Monkey Mind’s ‘no nonsense’ wellbeing app is designed to help both individuals and organisations measure, understand and improve their mental wellbeing anytime and anywhere. Its wellbeing survey equips entire organisations with a wellbeing score and its Inner Balance coaching service provides users with mindfulness training and follow-up surveys to monitor their progress.
Aimed at both schools and corporate organisations, Monkey Mind has so far secured £50k through two rounds of funding, with its latest round totalling £25k at a pre-money valuation of £63k. Its mission is to help organisations discover, understand and improve how their people are thinking and feeling.
21. Mind Moose
Total funds raised: £20k
Mind Moose is teaching children to improve and maintain their mental health through interactive wellbeing software. Founded in Manchester, Mind Moose has so far been through two accelerator programmes—Bethnal Green Ventures and BioCity. Using researched-based activities and characters, Mind Moose is providing a space for children to go on a “journey of discovery”. Using the app, they’re taught how to look after their minds, keep their bodies healthy, deal with emotions and develop resilience.
In its first fundraising round to date, Mind Moose secured £20k at a pre-money valuation of £251k. As well as providing kids with practical tools to help them understand themselves and others, Mind Moose also offers parent and teacher guides to encourage conversations with supportive adults around mental wellbeing.
Total funds raised: £10k
Discova provides an anonymised mental health, wellbeing and resilience app, powered by artificial intelligence, all for less than the price of a cup of coffee. It promises personalised, evidence-based self-help interventions, with action plans for the most common issues.
The Newcastle-based company was founded in September 2018 and, later that year, entered the North East Pre-Accelerator Programme. The Discova team works with both psychologists and peers to ensure that real experiences (both professional and personal) are shared in a friendly and practical way.
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