Mental illness is a growing ‘first world’ problem, affecting at least one in four people worldwide. London-based Spill is a new app that offers messaged-based therapy to help people increase their emotional intelligence and improve their ability to take on life’s challenges.
Founded in 2018, the startup has just raised €760k in seed funding from Passion Capital, Seedcamp and angel investors including Made.com founder Julian Callede and Urban co-founder Jack Tang.
Spill was borne out of the co-founders’ frustrations with existing barriers to both public- and private-sector options for mental wellness. For anyone going through a tough time, or simply looking for support and coaching, the choices available in the UK have been either a months’ long NHS waiting list to see a counsellor, or paying upwards of €70 per session in order to see a private therapist. Both come with the baggage of a significant and inflexible time commitment, as well as social stigma.
On Spill’s app, users can connect with BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) registered or equivalent counsellors and psychotherapists using anonymous written therapeutic communication – thereby offering private, discreet, convenient, accessible and flexible well-being support for individuals. The company works with employers, workplaces or universities to make its app available to employees, individuals and students for free and as a workplace or student benefit.
“Spill is the resource that we wished we had during our own challenging times,” said co-founder Calvin Benton. “It’s designed to be used more like a consumer app rather than a medical one, so that individuals won’t be embarrassed to have it on their home screens helping to reduce any stigma.”
84% of existing Spill users have not previously accessed any mental health guidance or counselling. This figures demonstrates the benefit and potential reach of an easy-to-use, convenient and non-intimidating service. The app has already been incorporated into progressive organisations of all sizes, from small startups with as few as only ten employees to larger fast-growth companies such as Monzo and Rightmove, as well as corporations including Hargreaves Lansdown. The company’s vision is to make therapy and counselling a default workplace benefit.
“We’re extremely proud to work with the Spill team because we genuinely believe that people are what differentiate and distinguish great companies,” said Eileen Burbidge of Passion Capital. “We always encourage our portfolio companies to invest in their people, and we believe that Spill is an ideal way for all companies and workplaces to do this for the benefit of their employees’ well-being, executive coaching or simply improving interpersonal communication skills and team dynamics.”
The app also provides benefits to counsellors and professionals looking to offer greater impact to even more individuals. Calvin’s own mother is a counsellor and his father a clinical psychologist, so the team has first-hand experience with the “supply”-side of the solution.
“I grew up seeing how much my parents enjoyed helping people, but I also witnessed what a restrictive working structure they had,” said Calvin. “With Spill, counsellors can make a difference to many more lives, fit work around their own family commitments, get useful feedback to grow and learn, and reach people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to access help. We’re enabling counselling work fit for the 21st century.”
“We’re incredibly excited to invest in the team at Spill who are creating the modern approach to mental wellbeing at work and at home,” said Devin Hunt, Seedcamp Venture Partner. “Modern businesses know that mental health is as important as physical health and Spill is the perfect solution to support different people’s mental health, wherever they are, on their own terms.”
“Our aim is to make ‘Spilling’ about your feelings a commonplace habit, regardless of whether people are doing it to approach challenges at work, overcome a life problem, navigate the in’s and out’s of a relationship, or just become a better and more self-aware human overall,” added co-founder Gavin Dhesi.
This latest capital injection will be used to grow the company’s engineering team, further the development of its core offering to organisations, and drive potential expansion into universities and academic institutions.