Mental health startups represent the fastest growing tech sector in 2023, according to VC firm a16z. These ventures are addressing an urgent problem, as the CDC reports the percentage of US adults with signs of anxiety or depressive disorders has risen dramatically over the last three years.
The numbers are staggering. 31% of adults surveyed experience signs of anxiety or depression, up from 11% in 2019. Adolescents and college students have seen a particularly sharp rise in depression rates since the start of COVID.
So it makes sense that Atlanta university students are teaming up to bring new mental health solutions to market.
Last week eight teams, made up of Georgia Tech and Emory University students, pitched their ideas as part of the 2023 EGHI/GT Hackathon for Mental Health Technologies.
The goal, EGHI (Emory Global Health Institute) Director Dr. Rebecca Martin said, was to bring together students from different backgrounds to address “urgent, real-time, global health” challenges.
The teams selected to pitch are building solutions for a variety of B2B and B2C users. That includes healthcare providers, those in recovery, neurodiverse children, and community leaders looking to help people navigate difficult mental health conversations.
The hackathon winner, SensAI, is a gamification app designed to support children experiencing neuromotor disabilities.
The SensAI team will now spend the summer in Georgia Tech CREATE-X Startup Launch, a program designed to help students scale their business ideas.
This is the fourth iteration of the EGHI/GT Hackathon but the first pitch to be done in person. The program is the brainchild of Ravi Bellamkonda and Steven W McLaughlin, who now serve as provosts of Emory and Georgia Tech respectively.
During previous iterations of the hackathon, students have built ventures related to COVID response and natural disaster technology platforms. You can learn about previous Hackathons here:
Local Mental Health Tech Startups To Know
Platforms like BetterHelp, Headspace, and Calm are household names today because individual consumers and their employers are looking to help combat poor mental health outcomes.
Multiple Southeast startups have also been gaining ground in the mental health tech space recently.
One, Atlanta Ventures-backed Reframe, is a neuroscience-based program app for alcohol reduction. Created from Georgia Tech graduates, Reframe has raised $27.4 million in outside funding to date, according to Crunchbase.
Nashville-based Psych Hub, a mental health digital education platform, raised a Series A at the end of 2022. Wayspring, also based in Nashville, closed its Series D in 2021 to expand its behavioral and social support services platform.
The local mental health scene has also made international headlines recently. Kentucky-based BehaVR merged with OxfordVR in the UK at the end of 2022. Now operating under the BehaVR name, the startup looks to use virtual reality to create better behavioral health outcomes.