HomeFundingUK-based PsycApps secures €1.7 million to develop its gamified mental health app

UK-based PsycApps secures €1.7 million to develop its gamified mental health app

Healthtech startup PsycApps is taking a new approach to mental health intervention – games. The team has just scored €1.7 million in investment to develop its evidence-based gaming app, eQuoo.

The mental health of our young people is becoming an increasingly concerning conversation. It’s now reported that about 50% of teens and tweens have self-reported to be struggling with one or more mental health issues. 

At the same time, the provision of mental health care is notoriously inefficient and insufficient. Existing digital mental health apps are also failing to fully grasp the attention and engagement of young people to make a difference. 

This is what PsycApp’s platform aims to overcome – taking an evidence-based gamification approach. 

New funding

Today, the UK-based startup has announced a €1.7 million raise in seed funding from US-based Morningside Ventures. 

It’ll be used to help the company scale and further develop its mental health platform and game, eQuoo.

Addressing a growing need

Founded by Silja Litvin and Vanessa Hirsch-Angus in 2016, PsycApps’ platform offers an accessible, scalable, and sticky mental health intervention that gives higher education institutions the ability to impact students’ mental health positively.

Silja Litvin, PsycApps Co-Founder and CEO, explained: “After working in an NHS priory, I realised that my clients were reaching me way too late – often after six months on a waitlist and years after experiencing the first symptoms. I wanted to find a way to give them the skill set they needed before they needed it. If a student drops out of their course due to mental health issues, it will change their lives in a way that hurts them and society. With eQuoo we give young adults a tool that helps them grow mentally, stay mentally healthy and get help if they’re experiencing issues.”

The evidence-based game, eQuoo, has been built with young adults’ habits and needs in mind. It’s reported that about 70% of young adults are casual gamers, so the founders put their experience in clinical psychology and gaming together to develop a treatment that young people could engage with and enjoy. 

With over half a million players globally, PsycApps’s goal is to reach every young adult needing an emotional and mental boost in a way that makes it easy for them to stick with the program. 

Stephen Bruso, Digital Health and BioTech Partner at Morningside Ventures, said: “Digital health interventions will be critical in how our society addresses the second, ongoing pandemic of mental health issues. However, designing these interventions to maximize long-term engagement and outcomes will be critical to making a difference. Silja and her team have shown robust engagement and outcomes data in large clinical studies, and we are proud to partner with them to bring eQuoo to people in need everywhere.” 

The startup is directly targeting the education market, where secondary schools, colleges, and universities desperately need tools to help keep their students healthy, with many of their existing mental health care programs failing to live up to expectations. 

Linked to school curriculums 

Ofsted, the UK’s education regulator and schools and colleges assessor, has required schools and colleges to include a resilience and personal growth program within their curriculum before they can achieve a top rating. Currently, eQuoo is the only scalable tool covered by Ofsted, with clinical trials proving a positive impact on students’ resilience, anxiety, and depression.

Cambridge Regional College and Paragon Skills are two of eQuoo’s early adopter clients, covering nearly 20,000 students and apprentices. They chose to ensure that their students have access to evidence-based tools that reduce the risk of failing to complete their course or reaching the results they would have otherwise achieved due to mental illness.

Niki Husher​, Safeguarding and People Business Partner at Paragon Skills commented: “Over the past four years, Paragon Skills has seen a significant rise in the number of our learners reporting concerns about their mental health. By working with eQuoo, we have provided direct access to a self-help tool that reduces anxiety and depression and builds resilience. This, alongside other mental health initiatives, means that we are well placed to support our learners in overcoming any barriers they may face in achieving their apprenticeship.’ 

Michelle Dowse, Deputy Principal at Cambridge Regional College, added: “Educational establishments across the UK have seen considerable growth in students requiring support with their mental health, in part due to the pandemic.  Whilst we at Cambridge Regional College are providing a range of services to support these students, we recognise that PyscApps can help us to support students before they need that intervention and those in need of immediate support. We are using the eQuoo app to build the resilience of our students and are pleased to be collaborating on this project”.

Patricia Allen
Patricia Allen
is the Head of Content at EU-Startups. With a background in politics, Patricia has a real passion for how shared ideas across communities and cultures can bring new initiatives and innovations for the future. She spends her time bringing you the latest news and updates of startups across Europe, and curating our social media.
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