Brave Raises $40M for Medicaid Mental Health

Serve a large need. Serve it at scale. Serve it well. It’s a popular playbook for many mental health startups, but Brave Health is looking to put a twist on the model with $40M in Series C funding.

Brave’s strategy differs from employer-focused mental health providers like Lyra and Headspace in its commitment to Medicaid members, no easy path considering only a third of psychiatrists accept new Medicaid patients.

To serve this population, Brave employs nearly 200 behavioral health providers and supports them with a tech stack that’s one part teletherapy tool and one part engagement platform.

  • These providers offer virtual counseling, therapy, and psychiatry, while the priority is to get Medicaid patients referred to mental health services into care as quickly as possible.
  • This engagement component is key. Brave boasts an 80% contact success rate and has received 23k referrals this year alone through partnerships with payors and hospitals.

The fresh funding will be used to help Brave expand beyond the 18 states in which it currently operates, and to accelerate the activation of more value-based contracts.

  • After entering its first VBC contract with Molina Healthcare of Texas earlier this year, Brave’s now signed two others to push the total number of lives it could potentially cover under risk-based arrangements to over one million.
  • It’s also likely that we’ll see Brave double down on partnerships with other startups in the Medicaid space, building off of existing relationships with MedArrive (in-home care) and Doula Network (maternal mental healthcare).

The Takeaway

Brave’s “you can’t treat who you can’t reach” approach is fairly unique among its cohort of VC-favorite mental health startups, but its focus on Medicaid sets it even further apart from competition. By taking ownership of getting members into treatment as well as their care journey, Brave seems well-positioned to deliver results for both health plans and the patients they serve.

Lyra Expands Into New Mental Health Conditions

Mental health benefits provider Lyra Health recently announced a trio of new solutions designed to address complex conditions such as alcohol use disorder and suicidality.

Lyra is seeking to effectively support the employees often overlooked by traditional health plans, such as those with serious mental illnesses and substance use disorders.

The new offerings will launch in early 2022 and include:

  • Lyra Reset addresses problematic alcohol use through virtual therapy, group sessions, symptom assessments, peer support, and medication. Lyra Reset promotes a durable recovery by providing resources for the entire family.
  • Lyra Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Suicidality combines virtual therapy sessions with therapist-prescribed skill-building lessons to help patients decrease suicidal thoughts.
  • Lyra Concierge provides personalized support for children, adolescents, and adults who need help accessing specialized mental health support or rehabilitation facilities.

The Trend

Many new digital mental health companies are focusing primarily on patients suffering from depression and anxiety, a large market given the pandemic-fueled climb in mental health disorders. 

However, as these companies begin to mature (Lyra has raised $680m and is valued at $4.2b), many will expand into other serious conditions.

This trend has the potential to help patients find specialized care that fits their needs, while also supporting employers looking to maintain a healthy and productive workforce.

K Health Acquires Trusst, Sets Sights on Mental Health

Digital primary care provider K Health announced its acquisition of text-based therapy app Trusst for an undisclosed sum, expanding its services into the rapidly growing online mental health arena.

  • Trusst offers a proprietary mobile platform that has the look and feel of regular text chats, adding a layer of familiarity to sensitive conversations with a therapist. To use the service, patients download the Trusst app and fill out a short questionnaire about their symptoms before being connected to a licensed therapist.
  • K Health provides a public symptom checker that funnels users into an AI-guided assessment of their health concerns, then allows them to connect to a physician via a telehealth call or explore treatment options through its paid service.

Both companies share a similarly lightweight digital-first approach to healthcare, providing services without the cumbersome overhead of many competitors, and expanding access to mental health professionals who would otherwise be prohibitively expensive or difficult to reach. K Health intends to fold Trusst’s services into its existing offerings, which include 24/7 access to primary care providers and prescriptions for as low as $12/month.

The Hottest Space in Digital Health

According to Rock Health’s H1 2021 digital health funding report, the virtual mental health space attracted over $1.5b during the first six months of the year, making it the leading clinical focus for new digital health capital. 

That definitely seemed true last week. The K Health acquisition took place one day before  Headspace and Ginger’s blockbuster merger, and the timing is far from a coincidence.

With so much investor attention on the space and a limited number of mental health service providers, companies are quickly staking claims through M&A activity, and K Health is betting that Trusst’s text-based therapy could be the answer to meeting the growing demand for accessible mental health services.

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-- The Digital Health Wire team

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