After more than a year of stress and isolation, many Americans are in desperate need of mental-health care.
However, one entrepreneur felt the growing group of startups hoping to solve Americans’ depression and anxiety didn’t quite go far enough.
So Brad Kittredge in 2017 cofounded Brightside, a mental health startup that offers virtual cognitive behavioral therapy, medication management, and self-care advice, for patients experiencing severe mood disorders rooted in depression or anxiety. On Thursday, it raised $24 million in Series A funding led by ACME Ventures. Triventures and Bullpen Capital also participated in the round. The company declined to disclose its valuation.
Brightside’s virtual-only approach was new when Kittredge started the company four years ago, but telemedicine has effectively upended mental-health care since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Other virtual care companies Better Help, Cerebral, and Talkspace have all benefited from pent up demand flocking online.
Loneliness, isolation, and stress have catalyzed soaring demand for mental-health services just as therapists and psychiatrists were shutting their doors, so startups like Lyra and Ginger stepped up to work with companies to offer virtual services to their employees.
Kittredge wanted to take a different approach.
The former 23andMe executive bypassed employers to bring care directly to patients, who pay for Brightside out of pocket through a monthly subscription. Brightside currently does not accept insurance. Over time, Kittredge said that he envisions Brightside working alongside the traditional healthcare system by accepting insurance or partnering with hospitals and primary care clinics.
“It was important for me to solve, my father managed depression for his whole life and it took him a decade to find the right treatment,” Kittredge said. “Both of my cofounders lost parents to suicide. This was a growing crisis even before COVID.”
Brightside offers patients access to trained therapists and prescription delivery for a monthly fee, Kittredge said. The app’s behavioral management tools like diet and mood tracking are free for all patients.
After answering an intake form, Brightside’s technology produces a recommendation for the best course of treatment for the patient based on information the startup’s collected on treatments and outcomes from previous patients. That’s partly how Brightside is able to go a step further in treating more severe cases of anxiety and depression than some of the other startups currently offering mental-health care, Kittredge said.
“I think the reason people shied away from it is that it’s hard,” Kittredge said of developing a virtual treatment for severe mood disorders. “It’s real-life challenges that are complicated and complex to treat.”
Kittredge said Brightside is currently studying the effectiveness of its approach among patients and the results of a clinical study will be released soon. Brightside will ideally participate in additional studies going forward. Its newest round of funding will help achieve that goal, he said.
Brightside shared the pitch deck it used to raise its Series A with Insider. It omits confidential financial and proprietary information.
Here is the presentation Kittredge and his team used to raise $24 million for Brightside, a virtual mental-health care startup.
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