There really isn’t a better time to get into the field of mental healthcare. The COVID-19 pandemic has put an enormous amount of stress on the country regarding deaths, isolation, and more. As a result, a higher number of people are suffering from mental health issues and addiction. Among the many demographics that have been heavily impacted by COVID-19 are college students, who have seen their lives utterly upended, taking classes from their bedrooms, fearing the wellbeing of those around them, and even facing expulsion for engaging in typical college activities.
Many startups are rushing into the fray to offer innovative mental health solutions and support systems. One that’s particularly interesting is the New York-based digital mental health company, Mantra Health, which recently disclosed that it has raised a large amount of funding to help it with its mission of serving college students.
What Is Mantra Health?
Mantra Health was founded in 2018 by a team of two entrepreneurs and a renowned medical expert. Columbia professor and psychiatrist Dr. Ravi Shah partnered with Ed Gaussen and Matt Kennedy, two former startup operators and venture capitalists, to form a company dedicated to addressing holes in the mental healthcare system that the founders say on their website they noticed through “family and personal experiences.”
“Life today is more frenetic, complex and ambiguous than anytime in history,” explains the startup’s website. “For the emerging generation of adults, this can mean carrying an extraordinary amount of stress and worry. On top of that, yesterday’s approach to mental healthcare doesn’t work for today’s generation — it’s too expensive [and] too slow.”
Mantra Health is banking on a more diverse, innovative, and holistic response to issues of mental health among the younger generation: combining specialist psychiatric care, medication (when necessary), online support tools, and “expert content.” Those using Mantra Health’s services will be able to see affiliated providers who are trained and certified like any other mental health expert. The difference is that Mantra Health makes mental healthcare available outside of those regular appointments. “We simply built modern tools to make them available to you wherever you might be,” said the website. “While medication is a part of our offering, we’re firm believers that there is so much more available to improve one’s emotional wellbeing.”
Support for Mantra Health
This approach has already proved popular among universities and investors, who have already thrown their support behind Mantra Health. The company recently made public its partnerships with major colleges to supply its services: Pennsylvania State University, St. John’s University, and Moravian College. These schools will bolster their current offerings with Mantra’s recently launched Managed Care Program, which co-founder Edouard Gaussen told Mobi Health News isn’t dissimilar from what the company was offering before; however, it’s more focused on the startup’s goal of fostering a “closed-loop telehealth platform.” According to Mobi Health News, this platform consists of three major components: “a telehealth app for students, a collaboration portal used by campus counselors to monitor patients and refer them to Mantra providers, and a proprietary EHR system that follows cases across the closed.”
In addition to the partnerships, Mantra Health has garnered financial confidence. The startup disclosed last month that it raised $3.2 million in seed funding in 2019. The fundraising round was led by Global Founders Capital, with support from Western Technology Investment and Hof Capital, as well as a slew of angel investors.
Co-founder Matt Kennedy attributed this interest to Mantra Health’s unique business model. "What really makes us different is ... we are keeping the school in the loop, and the school is typically still seeing that patient when they're working with us," Kennedy told Mobi Health News. "The school is collaborating and seeing the patient, and then you have a Mantra provider who's also seeing the patient."
With the partnerships and fundraising already under its belt, Mantra Health appears to be in a good position for more growth going forward. Additionally, the coronavirus pandemic has served to exacerbate mental health struggles among younger demographics. There has never been a better time for this type of venture.