Apps: Mental Health, Forums and Therapy Reviews

By pjain      Published Oct. 26, 2019, 3:06 a.m. in blog Startups   

MH Scr, 101

What is the technology

Digital mental health” denotes such promising technology as smartphone apps, AI chatbots, visual chat therapy, and the algorithmic triaging of patients to a vast network of suitable providers.

Psychology of Participants in Health Eco-systems

  • The competing interests experienced by those determined medical professionals in the audience: a. A desire to make the world a better place. b. A need to make money.

VC Funded MH Companies, Startups

Consumer mental health startups continue to attract capital from private market investors. Basis was one of many startups to benefit from VCs' growing appetite for innovative businesses in the mental health sector. As the stigma associated with seeking mental health support has dwindled and technology developments have allowed for personalized mental health tools and practices, more entrepreneurs have entered the space. Basis, despite having many of the ingredients needed for startup success, couldn't achieve success with its direct-to-consumer approach to therapy.


Basis was one of many startups to benefit from VCs' growing appetite for innovative businesses in the mental health sector. As the stigma associated with seeking mental health support has dwindled and technology developments have allowed for personalized mental health tools and practices, more entrepreneurs have entered the space.

  • Oct 2018 Basis launched a website and app for guided conversations via chat or video with pseudo-therapists or people trained in research-backed approaches but who lack the same certifications as a counseling or clinical psychologist.

TC story noting that the company, led by former Uber VP Andrew Chapin, had raised a $3.75 million round from Bedrock, Wave Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners.

  • June'2019 Basis quietly shut down its website and app, its co-founder and chief science officer, Lindsay Trent, a former research psychologist at Stanford, exited and a good chunk of eight-person team went out the door.

WHY: Basis, despite having many of the ingredients needed for startup success, couldn't achieve success with its direct-to-consumer approach to therapy.

When asked why the Basis app and website were no longer active, Chapin said the company is in the process of "shifting business models." He declined to provide further details.

  • Closed funding rounds in 2019, but would up rather quickly
  • Lightspeed declined to comment.
  • Wave Capital
  • Bedrock did not respond to requests for comment.

Basis, which did not claim to treat diagnosable conditions like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, charged $35 per 45-minute phone call with its paraprofessionals. Its use of unlicensed therapists sparked concern in the mental health provider community. 

  1. Harley Therapy founder Sheri Jacobson, an accredited counselor and psychotherapist, noted flaws with the service: "For me, replacing professional therapists and all of their lived experience and empathy with telepsychiatry administered by novice advisers could be potentially dangerous," Jacobson said in a statement. "Would you let a learner driver navigate an oil tanker?"

  2. What could go wrong? - @chrissyfarr "Because Basis works with paraprofessionals --- people trained in research-backed approaches but who don't have the same certifications as a counseling or clinical psychologist --- it's a much cheaper alternative to paying for a therapist."

Unmind Workplace mental health service

Unmind,  Closed funding rounds in 2019.

Blackthorn Therapeutics - ML Personalized Medicine

Blackthorn Therapeutics 

This is a neurobehavioral health company using machine learning to create personalized medicine for mental health Closed funding rounds in 2019.

Talkspace Talkspace


  • a leader in the online counseling space) Closed funding rounds in 2019.

Whether Basis will find its footing is TBD. What's clear is VCs are still willing to dole out checks as they experiment with the mental health space, but if startups don't start proving viable business models and learn to navigate the complex adoption curve, we'll see additional startups cease operations and mental health tech's moment in the sun will end all too soon.

MH Niches, Tech, Hacks, Ideas

Corporate MH Secure/Private Wellness => More productive, Growth

  • Pause, West Hollywood, CA - A personal companion for a mindful workplace Pause is a personal companion for a mindful workplace. We provide employees with personalized solutions for mental health driven by data from connected devices. We work with employers to provide metrics on engagement and health outcomes.

    • Shubh Jagani - Founder
    • Isaac Hunter Lead Product Designer - 1st employee
  • wayForward Health, Delhi (aka PsyInnovations Inc) was established in New York, USA with a mission to make mental healthcare accessible to everyone, globally! We use our psychology and technology expertise to build products that help people in their everyday life situations from better performance at work or school to better relationships and beyond. Our products help to overcome some of the biggest barriers to providing mental healthcare like stigma, lack of access and cost.

Suicide Prevention

---- XFR Learning to Manage Tech, Minimalism, Stress of Modern Life


Minimalism, Decluttering - reduces Stress

Managing Tech

XFR Fertility Management

PN Training helps MH

Stress of Moving



Chatbots for MH

Social Media, EC, Addictions to Tech/Shopping

EQ, Trauma Recovery

Sort Hacks, Misc MH

Improving Access to behavioral health care

Integrated options for those in need of crisis support

  • Piñata

Social isolation in young people, College

Hackathon resources

--- mHealth and MH Startup Tips

UXD, Design for mHealth, MH

MH Startup Tips

Deeply partner across disciplines

As Seegal notes, the mental health technology space is not one that operates in a silo. Only through interdisciplinary collaboration can any company truly make an impact in the space. That’s why the panelists recommend building an advisory team that incorporates relevant aspects of the mental health technology space, which could include clinicians, technologists, payers, and potentially even patients.

Co-founders should complement each other

Creating your co-founding team is perhaps the most critical decision your company will make. Especially in the mental health technology space, successful companies know how to balance skill sets and domain expertise within the founding team. For instance, bolster a technologist’s role in the company with a clinical co-founder.

Mental health is more than the absence of mental illness

When Modern Health surveyed their users about why they sought help, less than 10% selected “mental health.” Instead, most users selected other categories like money, work stress, and personal relationships. Find ways to engage potential users in areas that might not be traditionally considered “mental health.”

“Who’s gonna use? Who’s gonna choose? Who’s gonna pay the dues?”

More than just a catchy phrase, Laws uses the answers to these three questions as guiding principles when considering the viability of innovations in the mental health tech sphere. This three-pronged analysis is critical for the healthcare industry in which patients, providers, and payers often have misaligned incentives.

There’s no one size fits all for mental health

Friedensohn explains that similar to physical health, there really is no one size fits all solution for mental health. It’s important to create a holistic mental health system that triages each person to the right type of care based on their level of need. The mental health provider system can be particularly confusing with the wide spectrum of care options such as LCSWs, therapists, psychotherapists, coaches, psychologists, psychiatrists, and many more. Having a deep understanding of the nuances across mental health resources is integral to aligning your product with the user’s needs.

Design with end-users in mind

Even the most clinically efficacious technology won’t solve the problem if users are not interested in using the product. Understand your user base and what they’re looking for. Is your product using language and tone that resonates with your users? Does the product offer interventions that align with the user’s emotional context?

Solutions need to combine technology with a human touch

Ramo points out that while digital technology in mental health can outperform humans at predicting and triaging mental health issues, such as companies like Crisis Text Line, it is equally important to incorporate a human touch. Only by combining a human touch with innovative technologies can we truly shape mental health care in the right direction.

Funding requires focus

When it comes to raising your initial funding, don’t feel pressured to check all the boxes. Friedensohn recommends focusing on one of the three main buckets listed below and creating your pitch narrative around that one aspect: 1) Team — do you have a team that has the X factor? 2) Traction — is your company already gaining some form of traction (whether it be engagement, efficacy, or paying customers). 3) Market opportunity — what’s the market size? Do you have a key, novel insight into the market? Prioritize nailing down one of these for your initial pitch to VCs.

Ask for help

You’ll have to ask for help and don’t be afraid to say that you don’t know how to do it. While common to all founders, this especially applies to the new, but rapidly growing mental health tech ecosystem. There’s no reason to start from square one when so many other mental health tech founders are breaking new ground and willing to pay it forward.

Balance hustle with self-care

Starting any company requires an incredible amount of hustle. In a space as multidisciplinary and nebulous as mental health, there will undoubtedly be roadblocks and pitfalls along your founding journey. While it may seem obvious, it can be easy to forget to take care of your own mental health! Self-care and self-compassion are incredibly important traits to build into your mindset as well as your company’s ethos as it grows.


Competitive Landscape

Companies with Apps in Mental Health Technology

Software engineer - founder Julia Nguyen * "I'm Not Well and It's Okay" talk Julia Nguyen is a Việt-Canadian community organizer, writer, keynote speaker, and senior software engineer from Toronto living in San Francisco. Julia is the founder of, an open source mental health communication app. She created Southeast Asian Ladies in Tech. She helped to organize Write/Speak/Code San Francisco and the University of Waterloo Women in Computer Science.

After five years of doing mental health activism publicly, the biggest lesson Julia has learned is the importance of taking care of yourself before supporting others. "I'm Not Well and It's Okay" is about her journey in learning that lesson through her experiences self-advocating for her mental illness, organizing supportive communities, and surviving trauma.

Ayana Therapy & Online Therapy For Communities Of Color

Eric Coly is the founder and CEO of Ayana Therapy, an online therapy app. He used his desire to help a friend gain access to therapy and his own lived experience with mental health challenges to develop Ayana Therapy. Eric strongly believed that if finding a reflection of yourself in your counselor was what you needed in order to find a safe space, then you ought to be ENTITLED to it – hence the name Ayana, which means “Mirror” in Bengali. Ayana Therapy matches members of marginalized communities with compatible licensed therapists based on their unique experiences and identities across race, gender identity, class, sexuality, ethnicity, and ability. Those users have access to their therapists through text, call, and video.

Apps, Therapy Centers, Tech Based Solutions, Coaching, Communications


  • Lyftly: Peer-to-Peer Preventive Care and Early Intervention among Transitional Age Youth Ram S. Ramanujam, CEO

The rapid rise in adolescent mental illness in the US and globally is a rallying call for the immediate deployment of effective preventative care solutions. Early intervention coupled with ongoing collaborative care is extremely critical in the successful management of this challenge.Young adults struggle alone with a myriad of challenges that affect their performance and wellbeing. Family history, stress, emotional issues, anxiety, depression, peer pressure, bad relationships, bad influences and a whole lot of other problems can compound mental health issues and increase the risk for serious mental illness. Oftentimes mental health conditions are masked and this can lead to substance use. One of the key goals for Mental Health Technology innovators is to direct their focus on young adults. With this in mind, a comprehensive solution was created explicitly to offer a comprehensive “24/7, round-the-clock” digital/mobile solution to this burgeoning societal demand. An app has been launched at several colleges and universities across the US in a limited fashion to test adhesion and continued use and small behavioral modifications of the users in their mental wellness journey. This Lyftly app is a data and behavioral science-based solution that offers a tool for early capture and effective prevention/intervention. We believe we can address the many facets of this huge problem by optimally integrating a powerful mental wellness social platform, which includes a community of like-minded advocates that form a nationwide expert peer support network. This is complemented by digital behavioral data and artificial intelligence to provide effective, round-the-clock care for all. Lyftly will engage the user while respecting their privacy and anonymity. This presentation will primarily focus on the details of this platform, solution, and its efficacy.

Solace App

Laurent Shiels, CEO and co-founder of Solace app David Martinez, Solace app director Solace App

  • BLIP session: Brief Learning & Informational Presentation (20 minutes) This presentation begins with our findings from patients, psychiatrists, therapists, administrators and more regarding what they believe to be missing from the current state of our mental healthcare system. These findings include the Customer Discovery Research we conducted alongside Rutgers University and The National Science Foundation.

We would then segway into our proposed solution, that we have devised: The Solace App, which is a peer-to-peer anonymous group chat therapy platform. We just released this app for free to the entire United States, with most of our marketing targeting college students. This BLIP will demonstrate how the app works as well as how it addresses the issues that we discovered in our research. Then we will go on to describe where we see the future of the application, including partnerships we plan on pursuing. We hope that people will learn from the research we conducted. We also intend to collect feedback for the app.


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