Europe’s VCs Pile Into Mental Health Startups As Wellness Buzz Cools

  • The COVID-19 pandemic created a wellness growth throughout Europe, with mindfulness applications escalating rapidly. 
  • By the start out of 2022, investor urge for food in the aggressive wellness market place began to plateau.
  • VCs pumped a file $771 million into European startups tackling psychological health problems in 2021, per Dealroom.

Wellness was at the time synonymous with goop eggs and mindfulness coaching – a shiny practice reserved for the upper echelons of Hollywood.

But as a slew of pandemic-fueled lockdowns clamped down on human conversation, swathes of the population out of the blue turned to an unlikely but easy outlet to maintain their very well-remaining: wellness applications.

Startups like Headspace, Quiet, and Meditopia soared to prominence across Europe as individuals sought relief from the seemingly unlimited restrictions. Downloads of wellbeing and exercise applications surged from 565 million to 811 million in a solitary quarter in 2020, in accordance to

Investors immediately took note of the newfound demand from customers and invested $8.3 billion into wellness and mindfulness startups in 2021, nearly double the $4.3 billion invested in 2020, in accordance to Dealroom.

These applications helped folks manage their psychological properly-currently being through self-assistance mechanisms like meditation and mindfulness. But psychologists have been obvious that they are not substitutes for clinically-authorized treatment plans for mental overall health ailments.

Now, there is a new wave of startups hunting to move over and above wellness and tackle mental ailments. Firms boasting every little thing from digital therapeutics to the infrastructure required for psychological healthcare administration bagged a document $771 million in Europe in 2021.

In 2022, a host of seed-stage startups supplying scientific companies for psychological wellbeing and diseases secured funding, with numerous partnering with the UK’s National Overall health Provider (NHS). 

“The scale of the challenge of mental sicknesses turned obvious soon after COVID-19,” Joseph Zipfel, main expenditure officer at SFC, informed Insider. “The NHS has become really open up to operating with early-stage organizations at a large scale. That is not some thing we utilised to see a handful of a long time in the past.”


Inspite of the creeping investor curiosity, there are a range of complications with relying on startups for psychological ailment therapies. A lot of these platforms may be “effectively-intentioned”, but “giving people with a prognosis just for the sake of the diagnosis” operates the threat of “reifying mental disorders,” Dr. Mauricio Alvarez-Monjarás, a clinical fellow at UCL, claimed. 

 The deficiency of regulation or accreditation prerequisites was also a “double-edged sword,” he additional. “These applications are often designed by folks without having medical experience.”

But startups that intention to secure VC funding haven’t experienced it uncomplicated, in accordance to Arden Tomison the founder of Thalamos, a startup that digitizes the administration of the Mental Overall health Act. Tomison, who lifted $1 million very last summer time for his startup, reported that VCs identified it “a lot sexier to converse about mindfulness and yoga”, as there were being “much less mental disease concentrated solutions, and acute mental well being methods.”

Regardless of this, he explained the risk-return in this location for VCs, “if they can get their head around it, is huge,” owing to the reduced competitors but substantial client retention and social impact.

It’s currently a nascent sector, but wellbeing tech-concentrated money have been the most intrigued, mentioned Ben Lakey, cofounder of Syndi Wellbeing, a startup that provides a electronic infrastructure for the NHS and psychological health people. “The investors that know the area and the challenge get it.”

But personnel psychological health system MyMynd’s founder and CEO Henry Majed mentioned startups ended up now attracting focus from generalist VCs, who had been “waiting around for a shakedown of the crucial gamers” — a indication of the sector’s developing momentum.

Buyers have not reached a consensus on what a booming mental health care ecosystem appears like just nevertheless. 

For Damien Marmion, an investor in Syndi Overall health, the up coming phase is a “shift toward a horizontal services which aggregates all these alternatives in one space, like Syndi.”

However, Lascelles and AlbionVC investor Molly Gilmartin stated the subsequent stage was the verticalization of psychological wellness, which meant that startups will as a substitute create a niche target on underserved markets, for precise situations like schizophrenia or anorexia. 

But the prospect of verticalization also spotlights the sector’s rising pains.

Gilmartin agreed that whilst “there is quite a few possibilities for founders to build clinically-centered instruments” for specialized niche demographics, founders concentrating on specific verticals will have to take into consideration scalability and privacy as aspect of the equation down the line. 

“The more individualized we get, the extra cautions you would have to be about privateness,” Dr. Alvarez-Monjarás mentioned. 

Lots of of these expert services are also underpinned by one-to-1 human contact, such as treatment periods — and protecting it is a essential difficulty that startups need to have to contemplate when they start off to scale.

“There is some thing about the human romance concerning individuals, and possessing the ingredient of shared expertise and staying a social being, which some thing like AI is not going to be able to exchange,” he added.