Mantra Health, a digital mental health startup focused on young adults, has raised $22 million in Series A funding led by VMG Partners. The round includes new investors New Market Venture Partners, Elements Health Ventures, 14W and Alumni Ventures. Returning investors include Canaan Partners, Global Founders Capital, Baleon Capital, Western Tech Investments and City Light Capital. This latest investment brings the company’s total amount of funding to nearly $28 million.
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The company provides virtual mental healthcare services to college and university students in the United States. By combining clinical services with software and design, Mantra Health aims to improve the mental health of more than 20 million university and college students through partnerships with higher education institutions and health insurance plans. Mantra’s care program has been deployed on 52 campuses across the country, including Penn State, Miami Dade College and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Mantra Health equips campus counseling offices with a dedicated psychiatry or therapy provider to work exclusively with the school. The company says it’s not interested in replacing universities’ counseling operations and instead works as a digital extension of on-campus counseling staff and provider groups.
The startup was founded in 2018 by Ed Gaussen, Matt Kennedy and Dr. Ravi Shah. Gaussen, who is now the CEO of Mantra Health, told TechCrunch that the trio started the company out of deep curiosity around how to improve the status quo of mental healthcare for young adults. Gaussen says he has a sibling who dropped out of college in 2016 due to mental health issues and saw firsthand how difficult it was to find an appropriate provider.
“I saw firsthand through that experience the chaos of finding an appropriate provider, the costs related to treatment, and so many gaps in the process of getting the right support,” Gaussen said. “I ultimately spent the majority of my time as a VC learning about this space and trying to understand what was being done to solve the multiple problems in the system. It was always a personal goal to become a founder and that curiosity turned into an obsession, which ultimately led to starting the company with Matt and Ravi.”
To get started with Mantra Health, students take an online assessment to learn about their care options. From there, they can schedule an initial video consultation to discuss their symptoms and treatment options. The Mantra Health provider then works with the student to develop a personalized plan that includes therapy, lifestyle changes and medication, if appropriate. Students have ongoing access to their mental health provider and also have tools to track their progress.
Gaussen says the company will use this latest funding to quadruple the size of its team over the next 12 months across all operations, including product development and clinical operations. Mantra Health is also going to focus on clinical investments in its virtual provider group and continue its expansion across the country. The company is also dedicating partial proceeds of this round to scale its diversity scholarship, which offers financial support to marginalized individuals who are pursuing a degree related to mental health.
Regarding future plans, Mantra Health COO and co-founder Matt Kennedy says the company plans to introduce new digital-first treatments and other services for its patients.
“Over the next year or so, we’ll introduce new digital-first treatments for patients, new specialties within our provider group, and continue to expand our payment mix,” Kennedy said. “Ultimately, Mantra will have a mental wellness pathway tailored to each student from the day they walk on campus to well after graduation.”
In addition to the funding announcement, Mantra Health is debuting a new insurance referral program to support both short-term, episodic care and long-term mental healthcare needs for young adults. The program is designed to work with students’ insurance as the payer instead of the school. Mantra is already in-network with Optum, Cigna, as well as other local payers, and has launched the new insurance referral program as a pilot.