Taking care of our mental health and wellbeing should be a priority in life. Too often, we are all guilty of pushing through hard times, overlooking the signs that we need a mental break, and putting our mental wellbeing on the back burner. Hustle culture doesn’t help, with many people working hard to the point of burnout and exhaustion. It’s simply not sustainable.
It’s been well pointed out that we are currently living through a mental health crisis. Increased societal pressures, dealing with a global pandemic and its aftermath, financial uncertainty, climate crisis – just to name a few of the things in the wider global context that are going on – have all contributed to this. According to a recent Eurofound e-survey, mental wellbeing has decreased across all age groups since the onset of the European pandemic. It is actually reported to have reached its lowest level among young people and professionals – many of whom have lost jobs.
While we are more aware of our mental health and the importance of taking care of it, far too many people are struggling to access the care they need. Healthcare systems across Europe are exhausted and overwhelmed and mental health care isn’t getting the resource support it needs.
Startups have been stepping up to bridge the gap. Bringing digital health solutions directly to users and helping support the mental health of millions. As a result, mental health funding reached about €650 million in Europe, approximately 12% of global funding.
Let’s have a look at some European-based companies that could make an impact on improving mental health:
Mendi: Founded in 2018, Swedish startup Mendi provides its customers with the world’s first brain training device designed for home use with the aim of making every brain healthier. The device uses oxygen and blood flow in the prefrontal cortex to measure brain activity. Apart from the device, customers get an app where they can train their brain activity. The set is safe for all ages and provides an opportunity to improve mental well-being. The company’s mission is to improve the brain health of 10 million people by 2025, and it’s growing fast with team members in Sweden, the UK, Germany, Bosnia, Austria and the USA. In 2020 company raised €3 million in a crowdfunding campaign.
Ōura: Founded in 2013, Finnish startup ŌURA created Oura Ring, a smart ring that delivers personalized health data, insights, and daily guidance. The Ring tracks all stages of sleep and recovery and accounts. Then, the activity, heart rate, body temperature, and sleep data collected by the ring are transmitted wirelessly via Bluetooth to a smartphone app. Tracking sleep is a pivotal way to track wellbeing. Getting a good night’s sleep can help improve our mental wellbeing, reduce stress and improve our mood. Likewise, a poor night’s sleep can be a sign of rising stress levels. The company is on a mission to improve the quality of life via the opportunity to control the course of users’ health. ŌURA has raised about €146 million and has a significant international team of 500+ employees in Finland and the USA.
Reflectly: Mental health app Reflectly was launched in 2017 and has reached more than 250k users across the globe. It is a personal journal where users can reflect on their daily thoughts. Then, the company uses artificial intelligence and cognitive-behavioural therapy to measure users’ mental wellbeing and provide recommendations based on the tracked data. Reflectly is actively growing and raised about €4.5 million in 2020. The company was founded in Denmark and has a team of 20+ across Europe. Mindfulness apps are a soaring trend and a super useful tool for anybody to use to take some time to reflect, unwind and ground.
Oyama: Mental health company Oyama is based in Helsinki and was founded in 2019. Its secure platform allows users to discuss daily challenges and unwind their minds. In addition, the Oyama app provides users with personalized, evidence-based tools from psychotherapy to understand themselves better and a peer-support anonymous community where they can chat with others with similar experiences. The company’s mission is to enable individuals to evolve into balanced humans who will take good care of themselves and others. Oyama is actively growing and has 9 employees in Helsinki. Being able to express yourself and share your thoughts and concerns in a safe space is a great way for people to take care of their mental health, but it’s not always accessible. With this digital approach, Oyama is empowering a virtual community of listeners.
Nuna: Based in Barcelona, Nuna is an online marketplace for mental health professionals. Their vision is to make mental healthcare simple, easy, and accessible. One challenge in mental health is finding the right expert, but with Nuna it’s made easier. The tool helps users find the right expert on a sensitive topic, such as psychotherapy, taking the guesswork out of the equation and bringing people to the experts they need, regardless of location. Founded in 2020, the company offers services in Spanish and English and aims to provide mental health support for people across the globe. The startup is trusted already by mental health professionals around the world and is supported by K Fund and JME ventures.
Meditopia: Founded in 2017, Berlin-Istanbul-based Meditopia has become one of the most prolific mental health apps for non-English speaking countries – with over 35 million members in over 120 countries and 12 different languages. The aim of Meditopia is to democratize the access the mediation, helping users sleep better and reduce stress. The meditations are available through programs spread across different (pre-recorded) sessions and quick two-twelve-minute standalone sessions. In 2021, the startup launched ‘Meditopia For Work’, a series of tailored mental health solutions for companies, expanding its market reach. Meditopia has two HQs in Berlin and Istanbul, 130+ employees and it raised €13 million in 2020.
Sympatient: Founded in 2017 in Hamburg, Sympatient is the first digital anxiety clinic that offers patients the opportunity to receive anxiety therapy at home. By combining app-based cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) with mobile VR, the startup enables patients to learn about their anxiety disorders and effectively manage their fears with exposure therapy. Currently, Sympatient is focused on the German market and has partnerships with all German health insurance companies. The team has raised €1.6 million and has 30+ employees in the Hamburg office.
Triumf Health: Founded 2016, is an Estonian-based company that delivers behavioural therapeutics to children through a mobile game to improve their mental well-being and quality of life. The engaging and fun game Triumf Hero helps kids learn to regulate and recognize emotions and cope with everyday stressors and traumatic events. Its reported that about 50% of mental disorders stem from youth, so the startup is aiming to support minds from an early age, to protect them for generations to come.The app is available in 5 languages (English, Swedish, Estonian, Russian, and Ukrainian). In 2020 Triumf Health became the first Estonian startup to receive coverage at NASDAQ Times Square Display. The company is based in Tallinn and has a small team of 7 people.
Inuka: Netherlands-based Inuka aims to make well-being accessible to everyone. The company unites the power of human connection with the affordability and scalability of technological innovation in its digital coaching platform. Already more than 2000 people have received coaching in more than seven languages. The aim is to empower companies to help prevent chronic stress and burnout amongst employees – by supporting mental wellness. One of the advantages of Inuka is the ability to use the platform in different regions and work across cultures. Inuka also has a social mission and shares its profits with less fortunate people via the Inuka foundation. The Foundation is implementing projects in Kenya, Palestinian territories, Zimbabwe, the Netherlands, and Uganda. Currently, the company has 30+ employees and an office in Amsterdam. It was founded in 2017.
Dreem: Founded in 2014, French startup Dreem is a holistic sleep solution designed with actual human behaviour first and supported by a global community of sleep experts. The company believes that sleep disorders have become a growing public health epidemic that remains untreated due to different obstacles related to diagnosis and treatment. The device monitors brainwaves, analyzes the user’s sleep, and stimulates the brain with sound to extend the amount of deep sleep, improving human performance throughout the day. Dreem has raised about €35 million from investors and government grants.
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