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Five female founded mental health start-ups to watch

We list some of the best female-founded mental health apps

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Mental Health: Female founded businesses, apps and start ups

As the femtech world and wellness industry start to combine. We explore the mental health apps, startups and female-founded businesses you need to know.

Mental health conditions, especially after two years of pandemic restrictions and lockdowns, are on the rise. It is estimated that 1 in 4 people in England will experience some form of mental health issue such as depression or anxiety each year.

Spiritune

Spiritune combines principles of neuroscience and music therapy to inspire positive mental health outcomes. It aims to help reduce stress while increasing emotional regulation, productivity and performance through the music-based app.

The app was created by Jamie Pabst after she struggled with her own stress levels while working in the finance industry in New York. She realised the lack of accessible resources and wanted to create something impactful. The company highlights that headphones can become health tools allowing people to support their emotional health and perform better.

Jamie wrote: “Music is one of the most powerful stimuli that addresses the brain networks that underlie stress, emotions, motivation and reward. My vision to combine the effectiveness of music therapy and the accessibility of audio to help people better manage stress drove the creation of Spiritune.

Appreciating the role our auditory system plays in our health through my mom’s hearing loss, and understanding the significance of music in neurological function through my sister’s pursuits in music therapy, I am dedicated to bringing the vast benefits of music to people and organizations globally to create better health outcomes.”

It also offers a workplace setting that can help employers to boost productivity and employee well-being.

Mental health: female founded business, apps and start ups

Thymia

Thymia is a health tech company with a difference founded by CEO Emilia Molimpakis.

Thymia researchers developed a game based on neuropsychology combined with facial micro-expression analysis and speech pattern analysis to make faster mental health assessments. Its’s system allows clinicians a fun and engaging way to monitor their patient’s health. The game records subtle differences that doctors may miss and it also offers a way to monitor patients from home.

The app may have increased benefits for women in that it is also being developed to search for early signs of Alzheimer’s and Parkinsons’ Disease. Although both diseases affect both sexes, studies show Alzheimer’s is more prevalent in women. This is reversed when it comes to Parkinson’s Disease as men are 1.5 times more likely to develop the condition. However, women have a higher mortality rate and faster progression of the disease.

Speaking with Health Tech World, Emilia said: “In the patient’s view, they are just interacting with beautifully animated screens. However, what we are doing on the backside is where we are looking for specific patterns of behaviour because depression is associated with differences in cognitive function, psychological and behavioural patterns. Put all of those together and you get a signature for depression, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.”

Thymia secured €920k at the end of June 2021 from investors to help grow the company.

Moody Month

While practising good mental can be essential for every day of the month, there are times when it may be a little more difficult than others.

Pre-menstrual stress (PMS) can cause mood swings, tension, anxiety or depression. It can also cause social withdrawal and irritability. Although people with periods will recognise the start of their period, it can be tricky to know what is PMS or what may be depression or anxiety.

Moody Month, founded by Amy Thomson, helps users to receive a forecast of information on what is happening in their bodies each day. Amy was inspired to create the app after her periods stopped due to stress, travel and burn-out while working in event management in London.  She began searching for answers but was shocked to find a severe lack of information available for women. She also felt that period tracking apps stopped short at providing long term care for the entire cycle.

The app can help users to optimise their well-being by changing their mood, food and following fitness advice. It also tracks your hormonal cycle to better understand your moods and symptoms making it easier to recognise when it may be PMS. The more information input to Moody Month, the better the app is able to track and deliver information.

The best part?

The app is free unless you purchase something when using it.

Mental Health: Female founded businesses, apps and start ups

Heart it out

Femtech products or solutions are often designed after founders become frustrated by a gap not addressed in women’s healthcare. When it comes to mental health start-up, Heart It Out, that’s exactly what happened.

Nithya J Rao became concerned by the lack of psychologists practising in India which led to the creation of the platform. The result was a data-driven platform that can help to train psychologists for 16 weeks before they meet a patient. It also offers therapy to address issues such as depression and anxiety.

The startup also launched a free helpline called Briefly during lockdown which aimed to provide access to a network of 27 volunteers psychologists. They went on to help more than 600 patients with trauma and anxiety.

Patients can self-refer themselves through the platform for a number of different therapies including couple, family and child services. It also offers a ‘supervision’ service where professionals can join two or more psychology professionals in a continuous, collaborative, and supportive process. It aims to facilitate the exploration, monitoring and enhancement of professional functioning.

The website states: “Heart It Out began humbly as a ‘Room on the Roof’ in a quaint neighbourhood, providing a safe space for people to talk their hearts out. Today, it is a tech platform poised to provide confidential and non-judgemental access to mental healthcare, to 1.5 billion people by 2030.”

Altopax

Altopax combines care with community by offering a virtual group therapy platform aimed at connecting mental healthcare providers with patients who need care.

Pharmaceutical and health investor Narmeen Azad created the platform to help others connect with a group of peers who are also experiencing the same mental health condition or chronic illness. Healthcare providers can also connect with other professionals to discuss personalised, integrated care.

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Start-up raises US4.2m to address disparities in women’s mental health

LunaJoy Health seeks to address the complex needs of high-risk women

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LunaJoy Health co-founders Sipra Laddha, MD and Shama Rathi, MD

The US telehealth start-up LunaJoy Health has raised US$4.2m in funding to address disparities in women’s mental health.

LunaJoy aims to eliminate inequalities in mental health and “redesign” the way women access care.

The platform, which offers mental health therapy, counselling and medication management, is developing care models that cater to underserved populations, providing care that seeks to address the complex needs of high-risk women.

The funding round, supported by Y Combinator, FoundersX Fund, Goodwater Capital, Magic Fund, VentureSouq, Nurture Ventures and NorthSouth Ventures, is hoped to help the company expand its capabilities and close disparities in maternal health care.

“The support from our investors, coupled with the current focus on maternal health improvements through TMaH funding, sets the stage for the change we need to see so badly across the industry,” said Sipra Laddha, co-founder and CEO of LunaJoy Health.

Mental health is a lifetime pursuit, and we want to design a way to engage and support women with a variety of needs and varying degrees of risk.

“By using technology, we can measure and treat symptoms more effectively, delivering a better service model to meet rising demand and a shortage of therapists in the US.”

This financial and strategic support, Laddha said, will help LunaJoy roll out its “novel” integrated care programme, LunaCare, across select communities in need of maternal mental health.

The investment will also facilitate the integration of advanced technology solutions to enhance care coordination and patient monitoring.

Surbhi Sarna, partner at Y Combinator, said: “LunaJoy Health’s mission to bring a new standard to maternal health care for Medicaid mothers aligns perfectly with our goal of supporting scalable solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.

“We are proud to back such a vital initiative that promises significant impact.”

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New survey to ‘amplify’ marginalised voices in healthcare decision-making

UK charities enter partnership to address gender gap and advocate for inclusive healthcare policies

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The gynaecological health charity Cysters and Endometriosis UK have announced a partnership to amplify women’s voice in healthcare decision-making.

Despite progress in healthcare data collection, there remains a gap in representing the experiences of marginalised groups, particularly for those impacted by conditions and diseases like endometriosis.

Decision-makers in Parliament and the NHS often rely on data and statistics to inform policy and resource allocation. However, these datasets may not accurately reflect the experiences of marginalised communities.

A recent report from Endometriosis UK that gathered data on the experiences of being diagnosed with endometriosis in the UK found that whilst the ethnicity of respondents who identified as ‘white’ was proportionate to the data collected in the Census 2021, the remaining data was not illustrative of the ethnic diversity of the UK, with 15 per cent of respondents choosing not to respond to the ethnicity question.

To address this gap and advocate for inclusive healthcare policies, Cysters and Endometriosis UK are launching a new survey initiative aimed at amplifying the voices of marginalised groups in healthcare decision-making.

“We know that the current statistics are not inclusive of all communities, particularly marginalised groups,” said Neelam Heera-Shergill, founder of Cysters.

“By encouraging those from marginalised communities to share their experiences through this survey, they will be helping us to advocate for the changes that are needed, backed by evidence from their communities.

“In addition to delving into the diagnosis journey for people of colour and the unique barriers they encounter. We aim for this research and findings to pave the way for additional funded research on all menstrual-related conditions affecting people of colour.”

The survey seeks to gather insights into the experiences of marginalised communities, particularly concerning conditions and diseases like endometriosis.

Participants are encouraged to share their experiences openly and honestly, knowing that their responses will contribute to shaping more inclusive healthcare policies.

Sarah Harris, a researcher at Cysters, said: “We urge everyone to participate in this survey and share it far and wide. Together, we can ensure that all voices are considered in the conversation surrounding healthcare policy and resource allocation.”

The survey is anonymous and takes approximately 15 minutes to complete. To participate, visit Delayed Diagnosis of Endometriosis Among People of Colour in the UK Survey.

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Menstrual care start-up launches period equity initiative across college campuses

The initiative is hoped to facilitate access to period care and educate students on the use of more sustainable products

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Cherie Hoeger, founder and CEO of Saalt

The US menstrual care start-up Saalt has launched a new initiative aimed at addressing period poverty and environmental sustainability.

The Period Equity Initiative aims to reduce 100 million tampons from the environment while combatting period poverty.

Institutions, including Harvard University, Vanderbilt University, Northwestern University, the University of Utah and the University of Nebraska, are already participating in the programme.

One in five female college students in the US have had to decide between buying period products and paying for other basic essentials like food and other bills according to a nationwide survey.

The initiative, a direct response to the demand for more units for student populations, underscores the issue of period poverty, which affects students across America, challenging the misconception that it is solely an “overseas problem”.

Saalt aims to make period care accessible and affordable through the subsidisation of reusable period products, such as cups, discs, and period underwear, to participating universities and their campus affiliates.

The project is hoped to not only facilitate access to period care, but also educate students on the use of more sustainable products, which are designed to be reused rather than discarded.

“Every day we hear from customers about how life-changing Saalt cups are for them,” said Cherie Hoeger, founder and CEO of Saalt.

“Creating period equity and managing the environmental impact created by disposables are pressing matters that demand urgent attention and innovative solutions.

“Through our Period Equity Initiative, we’re taking a proactive approach to tackle these challenges by leveraging our expertise and aligning with universities across America to make a big impact closer to home.”

The Period Equity Initiative, Hoeger added, furthers Saalt’s commitment to making period care more affordable, accessible and sustainable.

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