Its easy to get anxious, stressed out and mentally exhausted in a world of hyper-connectivity and always-on media.
When any local or national tragedy occurs, the pain associated with it can feel amplified thanks to constant reminders and commentary from social media and news.
If you arent worried about an economic downturn, you may be worried about whether the next virus outbreak will reach your local city or town. Also, we cant forget that its an election year, so all the joys of partisan politics will likely come with high emotions as we near November.
Its no wonder that anxiety impacts over 40 million Americans, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Whats more concerning is that a 2019 report cites that over 56% of American adults who have a mental illness havent received treatment.
However, with all those factors working against us, Im encouraged about the future knowing there is an army of dedicated entrepreneurs and mental health professionals who are racing to put more people at ease.
This includes the growing field of psychiatrists, psychologists and a wide range of medical experts who are embracing new technologies to reach new patients who are in need.
Frankly, Im inclined to believe that this year could be the year where mental health startups truly go mainstream, for a few good reasons.
First, its important to acknowledge that the sheer discussion of mental health has evolved from being a topic that was often swept under the rug to being front and center on television commercials.
The stigmas associated with mental health simply have changed over the last many years.
If you look at the cornerstones of American culture, like sports or entertainment, you can see this shift occurring.
Olympian Michael Phelps can be seen in TV ads for Talkspace, a message-based therapy platform. NBA star Kevin Love penned a deeply honest piece about his challenges with mental health. Most recently, sports icon Lebron James partnered with the meditation app Calm, touting the importance of mental health.
On TV, normalized portrayals of things like therapy sessions are not uncommon in movies or mainstream content.
Next, the interest in the mental health space from the investment community continues to translate into funding. Some estimates suggest nearly a billion dollars in venture capital being deployed to this space in recent years.
The growth of this space feels reminiscent of other periods in time when new industries began to bloom, such as when online gaming or digital currency startups sprouted up in mass numbers.
Headspace, Calm, Talkspace, Mantra Health and BetterHelp are just a few of the growing names working to tackle services ranging from meditation to bridging doctor-to-patient interactions.
This is a bi-product of anticipated consumer demand, which now seems more warranted based on efficiencies in pricing and access.
Finally, advances in technology have enabled entirely new ways for doctors and patients to connect, ranging from pure text messaging to video conferencing to virtual reality. In turn, this enables medical professionals to forego traditional overhead expenses like offices, allowing for a lower cost of treatment.
Many employers have even embraced the value of these services and have begun offering them as core employee resources or discounted benefit services. This is for good reason.
A 2018 study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine highlighted that 86% of employees reported that after receiving treatment for depression, they performed better and reported lower rates of absenteeism at work.
The changing cultural sentiment, alongside increasing investment funding and technological improvements that expand access to more people, represents a momentous opportunity for emerging and growing startups in the mental health field this year and for years to come.
Ultimately, this should be perceived as a great win for all of us. If you, your family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers can be just a little bit happier, our society will undoubtedly become a better place.
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