Five years ago few startups tackled mental health.
“From a company point of view, this is maybe the bottom of the first inning,” Haders said. “The market that exists today and the market that exists in five years will be very different.”
So far, the most prominent player appears to be New York-based Talkspace. In May, it raised $50 million in a Series D round.
The company’s mobile app connects users to licensed therapists, which has been endorsed by Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps.
Approximately one in five Americans encounter mental illness each year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Access to a mental health professionals can be a barrier.
Locally, an issue has been the psychiatric system. It’s strained to the point where patients often wait long periods for emergency, inpatient and continuing care, the San Diego Business Journal detailed in a three-part series in April. Hospitals roundly lose money in the area, forcing them to balance care and finances.
Tekeze Solutions’ software is designed to quickly connect patients to behavioral health services. Called ERConnect, providers can view and share notes on patients, allowing them to locate care, set appointments and make referrals.
“Think of ERConnect like Google, with a streamlined interface to do only one thing,” said Tekeze CEO Andres Gutierrez in an email. “Google does search, so the metaphor provided shows you a magnifying glass icon and the ability to search for anything you enter.”
The San Diego company was spun out of Family Health Centers of San Diego, a federal health center.
Gutierrez said the application was initially developed for primary care, but also proved apt at connecting dots in mental health, particularly among the uninsured and under-insured.
Several San Diego hospitals and clinics use the platform. Tekeze is working on monetizing it.
In Carlsbad, MedCircle’s video-streaming service features mental health content from credentialed doctors. It’s built on the idea that access to mental health professionals is too difficult and costly.
Some videos are free, but it has a premium version with in-depth content that runs $19.95 a month.
MedCircle CEO Douglas Colbath is best known as the founder of Spyglass Inc., a startup that created the software engine behind Microsoft’s browser, Internet Explorer. He was unavailable for an interview.
In a news release Colbath said he sees curated mental health content as a solution to internet ills like cyberbullying, as well as a connected world that’s paradoxically made people feel disconnected.
Neal Bloom, the founder of Fresh Brewed Tech and who invested in Concert Health, said tech is making inroads in mental health.
“I like talent tech plays that are applied to niche industries, and this is a great one that also has good incentives for the supply and demand to make the marketplace efficient,” Bloom wrote in an email.