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Femtech and mental health – the biggest developments



The rise in femtech over the past few years has brought female health to the forefront of the market. From period tracking apps to fertility support, technology has opened up a whole new world for women looking to take control of their health. But how is the tech addressing women’s mental health concerns? Femtech World reports.

Over recent years, as a population we’ve all been increasingly aware with mental health, with books, courses and apps all being produced to support users’ emotional wellbeing.

In England, around one in five women has a common mental health problem such as anxiety, depression or self-harm.

And the pandemic is said to have disproportionately affected the mental health of women in particular. In fact, research from the US using real-time survey data, found that the gender gap in mental health in the US increased by 66 per cent over the course of the pandemic.

Now, femtech is being leveraged to help women take care of their mental health across a number of spheres – with a number of exciting developments and deals having been launched in recent years.

Maternal health

The magnitude of pregnancy and becoming a parent can often be the trigger for mental health issues in women.

And Covid-19 exacerbated the issue, with the risk for depression during pregnancy doubling during the pandemic, while breastfeeding issues were also magnified, with statistics revealing to a 41 per cent newborn readmittance rate for feeding problems in the US.

To combat the most common issues, in September 2021, women’s healthcare specialist Sonder Health and virtual reality firm BehaVR have teamed up to create NurtureVR, a VR-based digital therapeutic to help expectant mothers with stress, anxiety and fear.

When combined with Sonder Health’s existing services, the platform provides mothers-to-be and new parents with round-the-clock support.

It provides mums and their families with access to 22 weeks of educational material, mindfulness skills and immersive experiences, along with around-the-clock access to specialty-trained telehealth lactation consultants and registered dietitians.


In October 2020, femtech start-up Clementine raised £1m in equity funding from impact venture capital firm Fortunis.

The female-focused hypnotherapy app, aims to help women find their inner calm, become more confident, reduce anxiety and sleep better.

It offers a range of bite-sized sessions of what it calls cognitive hypnotherapy, a style of talking therapy that encourages a person to shift their mindset, using a combination of soothing music and spoken word to lull users into a sense of calm.

The app was developed by Kim Palmer, who named it after her habit of bringing a clementine into stressful meetings and using it as a subtle tool to quell anxiety, by peeling or holding it to help keep her focused. Many of the hypnotherapy sessions on the Clementine app work in the same way: five-minute recordings designed to easily fit into users’ days.

Banishing worry

Women are statistically more likely to suffer from anxiety than men, although why this should be is unclear.

Worry Tree was developed by lifelong worrier Louise Stevenson, after her husband told her that her anxiety was having a negative impact on every aspect of family life.

The app is one of just 15 approved mental health tools in the NHS app library, and helps users notice and challenge their worries. It is available for anyone to use, but 75 per cent of users are women.

It uses CBT techniques to train people who suffer from excessive worry to notice when they are worrying and try to build more constructive habits of problem-solving and distraction.

Connecting mothers

As well as the physical and emotional changes that accompany pregnancy and motherhood, many new mums suffer from feelings of isolation and loneliness.

The Peanut app was founded in 2017 when Michelle Kennedy had her first child and found there was little social support available.

Having worked in social networking for ten years, Michelle set out to reduce feelings of isolation and make sure no one has to navigate womanhood alone.

Peanut started life as a way of bringing new parents together socially and has since grown and developed to connect women at every life stage – from puberty and pregnancy through to motherhood and menopause – so that women of all generations can access support.

Breast cancer support

One woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every 10 minutes in the UK. And while survival rates have improved massively over recent years – when diagnosed at its earliest stage, almost all people with breast cancer will survive their disease for five years or more – it can still be a worrying time.

Charity Breast Cancer Now’s Becca app provides specialist support to help sufferers live with, through and beyond their diagnosis, particularly when it comes to their mental health.

Easy-to-use flashcards give information, support and inspiration to anyone struggling to find their “new normal” following diagnosis.

It includes patient stories, information on side effects of different treatments, menopausal symptoms, fatigue, diet, exercise and body image.






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



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



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



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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