Nearly one in five adults in the United States is living with some form of mental illness. While there has been some progress made over the past two decades to make treatment more accessible, obstacles like affordability, availability, and social stigma continue to keep many people from receiving the care they need. And when global events are heightening feelings of isolation and anxiety, this disconnect can be even more acutely felt.
Today, we’re investing in a company called SonderMind that is actively working to make behavioral healthcare more accessible, approachable, and utilized. SonderMind is solving several challenges to finding and affording care. For consumers, the SonderMind platform matches people with a therapist best suited to their needs while seeking to optimize insurance coverage whether the session is in person or via video.
For care providers, SonderMind enables therapists to expand their patient reach while maintaining the benefits of running a direct-pay practice. The platform connects providers to networks of new patients, helps with payor credentialing, manages the billings and claims processes, and guarantees instant payment on claims.
Legislation and Evolving Norms Drives Positive Change
In 1996, Congress passed the Mental Health Parity Act (MHPA) that for the first time required group health payors to offer the same lifetime dollar limits for mental health coverage as the medical coverage plans they offered. Then in 2008, Congress passed the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) that brought parity to other financial requirements for obtaining behavioral healthcare. Still, both the MHPA and the MHPAEA only applied to group health insurers and mostly to companies with more than 50 employees.
Under the Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010, behavioral health services became one of ten mandated essential health benefits. More people gained access to coverage as new individual and small group plans that were now also required to offer behavioral health services at the same level as medical coverage.
Over the course of the two decades that Congress was working to make behavioral healthcare more accessible to Americans, general perceptions around mental healthcare were evolving. Long considered taboo to discuss, as many prominent people including celebrities went public about their personal experiences, the stigma attached to seeking help for behavioral health has begun to dissipate.
While younger generations continue to survey as more stressed and feeling less mentally healthy as compared to older generations, they’re also more likely to seek out diagnosis and treatment for mental health conditions. Student demand has led universities to prioritize their mental health resources and as younger people enter the workforce, they are more comfortable talking about these challenges: millennials are more than twice as likely to talk about mental health with their bosses than older generations.
Unmatched Supply and Demand
So if all these conditions are true — mental healthcare has more expansive coverage, people are experiencing more stress and mental illness, yet are more open to actively seeking treatment — why is it so hard to find the care needed? The simple answer: for consumers, there are few ways for them to find the right providers who can address their needs and, importantly, accept their insurance. For providers, the vast majority of who are independent practitioners with excess capacity, there hasn’t until now been a framework for easily and economically finding and accepting both cash pay and insured patients.
There’s supply, there’s demand. What’s needed is a conduit to connect the two.
Our Investment in SonderMind
Mark Frank founded SonderMind in 2017 with the belief that mental wellness is a critical issue in the United States and that the right application of technology and data would allow for a much-improved quality and consistency of care. As the company has rolled out in Colorado and now into Texas and Arizona, they’ve gained traction by helping hundreds of therapists expand their practices to provide timely, convenient and affordable access to therapy to people in need.
Mark and his team are building the SonderMind platform with an eye towards the future of care where digital and in-person therapies blend to create more efficient and effective means of treatment and where data and analytics will play a significant role in continuously improving outcomes.
Alongside today’s funding announcement, the company is also announcing that Eric Roza, former CEO of Datalogix and current XIR with GC, will be joining the board of directors. With Mark’s vision and proven operational excellence, Eric’s deep knowledge of applying data to innovation and passion for improving health and happiness, and the team’s commitment to the company’s vision, we believe SonderMind has the potential to become the leader in providing effective, timely and affordable therapy to those most in need. We are honored to have them join the GC family today.
— Holly Maloney & Team GC