Mental health has been put into the highlight in a huge method in current occasions. For many people, our lives and life have modified massively in the final yr, and alongside that, we’re collectively dealing with pandemic-fueled mortality on a world scale in a method that hasn’t existed for generations, a excellent storm of types that has inevitably had an impression on our way of thinking and our moods.
Today a startup that has constructed a platform to assist folks take into consideration and reply to this case is saying a huge spherical of development funding, particularly to assist handle all of this and the way it performs out in one of many extra stress-inducing points of our life — our workplaces.
Unmind — a London startup that has constructed a mental health app for the workplace — has raised $47 million, a Series B that it will likely be utilizing to proceed investing in its analysis and growth and likewise to develop its enterprise attain. The funding is being led by EQT Ventures –- a very active investor at the moment in UK growth rounds — with participation additionally from Sapphire Ventures and former backers Project A, Felix Capital, and True.
The core of Unmind’s service is an app constructed round a set of questions to assist workers discover their very own states of mental health, which might embody melancholy, nervousness, insomnia, and a host of different manifestations. It gives recommendation and content material to start addressing the outcomes of that — workout routines, recommendation, podcasts, hyperlinks for additional studying, and hyperlinks to seeing additional assist from professionals (no more machine interfaces, however people). It additionally gives a service to the employers, sharing anonymized knowledge from the app with them in order that they, too, can think about how higher to reply to their workers’ wants.
The app has seen some notable traction particularly in the final yr, a time when the dialog about mental health has develop into way more commonplace and significant, given the setting we’ve been dwelling in.
Unmind doesn’t disclose person numbers, nor how they’ve grown, but it surely tells me that uptake and adoption of its app ranges from 15% to over 60% of a corporation’s workforce (this varies by dimension, and the emphasis that the group itself places on utilizing the app, amongst different issues). It mentioned that of these workers who’re utilizing Unmind, 88% have mentioned they expertise an enchancment in mental wellbeing, work, or relationships, whereas 92% report greater confidence, consciousness, and understanding of mental health.
The firm additionally mentioned that revenues grew by greater than 3x in the final 12 months. Meanwhile, its clients embody main retailers like John Lewis and M&S, excessive avenue financial institution TSB, Uber, Samsung, Virgin Media, British Airways and Asos — a record of corporations which have sturdy levels of customer support round them, have been enormously impacted by the lockdowns, and you may think about should have a lot of individuals working in them fairly wired as a results of being on the entrance strains of interfacing with a stressed-out wider inhabitants of shoppers.
The firm was co-founded by Dr Nick Taylor, who beforehand had been a scientific psychologist and labored for years in mental health care (and earlier than that was a classically-trained singer), who mentioned he got here up with the concept after feeling like he was seeing too many individuals solely for the primary time at a stage when their points have been already very superior.
“I kept encountering the same frustration time and again: I wish I’d met this person six months ago,” Taylor mentioned in an interview.
As with every kind of preventative healthcare, it’s at all times higher to determine and work on points earlier than they develop huge and extra pressing, and so he set out to take into consideration how one would possibly method the idea of a preventative check-up and check-in for mental health.
The workplace shouldn’t be a dangerous place to base that effort. Not solely is it typically a supply of stress for folks, but it surely’s a common place for them to be day-after-day so creating a method of assessing mental health by means of that implicitly creates a type of routine to the trouble. It additionally doubtlessly means a nearer connection to the employer to work on points extra collectively when and in the event that they emerge, in a method that the employer won’t do (or ever uncover) by means of different means.
The connection between work and mental health is a longstanding one however has maybe been confirmed out greater than ever earlier than in the final yr.
“I didn’t know what would happen with mental health during Covid,” Taylor recalled. “I actually wondered if it would be demoted,” given the entire different conflicting priorities. “But the prevalence of mental illness has escalated. It’s out of control. And in the workplace, it’s a leading cause of absenteeism and turnover.” And given how full-on all the things has develop into, together with doubtless extra hours spent working since now all of it has merged with our house lives, everyone knows (and could be amongst) many people who find themselves feeling extremely burned out proper now.
Taylor mentioned that in reality fairly the other has occurred to his early skepticism: mental health has develop into entrance of thoughts, “and the shackles of stigma are falling away.”
This is a part of what has actually caught the attention of buyers: know-how that’s not simply efficient, however very related to proper now. “It is now universally recognized that our Mental Health is as important if not more important than our physical health – but has long been neglected. That is now changing rapidly,” mentioned Alastair Mitchell, a accomplice at EQT Ventures. “As a result there has been a massive rise in the popularity of consumer mental health apps which is now being matched by surging demand from employers and employees for the same in the workplace. Unmind is the leading mental health app for the enterprise and we are so excited to work with Dr Nick and the team to support their scaling globally.” EQT can also be a strategic investor, not simply a monetary one: it’s rolling out Unmind throughout its personal workplace and its many portfolio corporations.
Unmind, it must be famous, shouldn’t be the one firm that has recognized this “opportunity,” when you might name it that. They embody different startups like SF-based Ginger — which has additionally constructed a platform that companions with employers, but additionally healthcare suppliers and different stakeholders, to assist folks determine and handle their way of thinking. Ginger has been well-capitalised over the years. Others in the identical area embody Welbot in New York, Spill additionally out of London and a host of others offering completely different points of mental wellness like Calm and Headspace, the meditation apps.
I’m inclined to suppose that, given the scale of the issue and that mental health shouldn’t be a bunfight however one thing that takes a village to handle, the important thing can be in how every firm approaches its remit, and the way folks reply to it, and whether or not what folks do finally use outcomes in higher bridges for workers to getting the assistance and peace they want, whether or not it’s from the app or a skilled.
“We have a responsibility to connect with our mental health in the same way that we do when it comes to healthcare,” Taylor mentioned, likening the trouble to the way it takes a variety of ability units generally to work on the complexities of a health subject. “Great healthcare integrates across a number of systems.”