Online platforms and apps are combining traditional mental healthcare (talk therapy, etc.) with mental wellness approaches like meditation and sleep support

In traditional medicine, the promise of an integrative model—where conventional medical care is combined with more preventative, lifestyle-focused approaches—has largely been a dream deferred.

But there are signs that the promised land of integrative approaches in health may happen faster in the mental space, where new online platforms and partnerships are combining talk and cognitive behavioral therapy with mental wellness tools, including meditation and sleep support.

It’s a trend we discussed in our 2020 trends report back in January, “Mental Wellness and Technology: Rethinking the Relationship.” But the mash-up of mental health + mental wellness approaches is being accelerated by the severe mental health crises unfolding during the pandemic, and which led to the relaxing of regulations (in the US, HIPAA Rules) that allow all kinds of traditional health providers to treat people via telemedicine. It’s new digital platforms that are largely making this more integrative mental health and wellness model possible.

You see all kinds of activity taking mental healthcare and mental wellness out of their once separate lanes. Lyra Health (featured image above), a start-up that provides traditional mental health services to employees digitally, recently inked a partnership with meditation app Calm to provide meditation, mindfulness and sleep support for workers. Hims, the start-up with a $1 billion valuation that provides online physician services, moved into the mental health/wellness space during the pandemic, launching group therapy services combined with meditation sessions. Platforms often work on an “escalation” model, starting with “wellness” approaches and moving to professional care if needed: For instance, the mental health app lets people chat with a behavioral health coach (within one minute) and then moves them to a therapist or psychiatrist if needed. (More examples below.)

With work-from-home fueling the employee burnout crisis, companies now realize that they need to provide workers with both mental health services (teletherapy) and mental wellness support (online meditation and stress-reduction solutions). But the trend is also being spurred by generational shifts, with millennials and Gen Z demanding easier access to therapy and psychiatry while also being much more focused on self-care and mental wellness solutions.

Investors are taking notice of this demand for more mental health and mental wellness technology solutions: Start-ups in this space raised a record-breaking $1.37 billion in the first three quarters of 2020, handily outpacing the $1.06 billion invested in 2019 (PitchBook). And if mental wellness has been driven by consumer spending, wellness companies, like Calm or Headspace, realize that they can tap into the very big pockets of the healthcare and workplace wellness markets.

A stronger focus on mental wellness has been a cultural mega-shift these last few years, with people desperate for strategies beyond pills and professional therapy. But mental wellness as a concept, and what constitutes it as an industry, has remained incredibly fuzzy. This week, the Global Wellness Institute released research that aims to rectify that. It’s the first study to define mental wellness as opposed to mental health, clarify the key mental wellness pathways, and measure the global mental wellness industry ($121 billion) and its four segments: 1) senses, spaces and sleep ($49.5 billion), 2) brain-boosting nutraceuticals and botanicals ($34.8 billion), 3) self-improvement ($33.6 billion), and 4) meditation and mindfulness ($2.9 billion).

This new research shows how crucial it is for governments, businesses and people to focus on mental wellness solutions in addition to traditional mental health in the future. Key findings are here.

If wellness is about realizing that prevention can forestall illness, we will see “more mental wellness” being mixed into traditional mental healthcare delivery in the future. The future of the mental health space: more integration.

Summit Trend in the News

Companies are offering benefits like virtual therapy and meditation apps as Covid-19 stress growsCNBC

2020 has taken stress and depression to new levels for employees, and more businesses are signing deals with teletherapy and meditation apps, often in tandem.
Hims launches group therapy services as first foray into broader mental health initiativeTechCrunch  

Himsthe start-up that provides out-of-pocket physician services online, launched anonymous group therapy services combined with guided meditation sessions as part of an initial push into mental health services.
Lyra mental health service teams up with Calm meditation appCNBC

Lyra Health, a richly funded start-up selling employee mental health services, is adding meditation, mindfulness and sleep support to its program through a new partnership with the mega-meditation app Calm. 

Kevin Love Is Backing the World’s First Mental Health Gym. So, What’s That?Inside Hook

An interesting twist on traditional therapy meeting a wellness concept, the gym, is a new venture called Coa that bills itself as the “world’s first gym for mental health.” 


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