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Prioritizing Mental Health: Meet the CEE Startups Changing the Narrative

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One in two people is affected by a mental illness in their lives. The dramatic decline in mental well-being that occurred between 2019 and 2020 and continued into 2021 through the COVID-19 pandemic, persists with no sign of recovery, according to the latest Annual Mental State of the World report

The challenges posed by mental health conditions affect all ages and social groups. Specific groups have been particularly hard hit, including health and care workers, people with pre-existing mental health problems, and women. 

“Mental health is health – we don’t really differentiate and are very keen on investing in next-generation products and solutions that address the mental health crisis either directly or indirectly (better primary care, better modalities of exercise, sleep, nutrition, etc.)”, said Karel Zheng, an investor at KAYA, for The Recursive.

A significant number of individuals living with mental health issues are not receiving the necessary treatment and support. There is a rise in diseases of despair, such as depression and anxiety disorders among young people, along with increased cases of self-harm and suicide. Moreover, specific challenges include burnout among workers.

The world stands on the verge of a global mental health crisis, which “has led to a significant increase in demand for companies and professionals specializing in mental health support”, shared Michal Rokosz, Partner at Inovo VC. He also identifies two main trends, accounting for the development of the sector,  one of them being the shift in the attitude towards mental health issues.

“People now recognize that it is no different from physical health issues, removing much of the stigma that used to surround seeking therapy”, he said for The Recursive. 

“Secondly, there’s a growing interest from employers in supporting their employees’ mental well-being. The demand for business-to-business (B2B) solutions that help maintain and improve mental health in the workplace is rapidly increasing. Employers are recognizing the value of investing in mental health, not just for the well-being of their employees but also for the overall productivity and health of their organizations”, adds Michal.

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In response to this increasing need, CEE startups in the niche step in to bridge this gap. Let’s take a moment to explore what solutions they offer to these pressing challenges.

 

7 Mental Health Startups in CEE

Mindly

Solution: Mindly, a startup originating from Kyiv, aims to link clients with licensed therapists through an end-to-end mental health platform for online therapy.

 It offers AI-powered patient care and automation for clinical administration. It currently works to supplement paid clients with free services for those unable to pay. 

Investor’s Perspective: “Our commitment to mental health stems from the belief that it is a critical component of overall healthcare, deserving of significant investment and attention. Among the many teams we’ve met, Mindly has been the standout. What has set them apart was particularly their great learning curve, incredibly effective execution, and an honest ambition to build a company that will have an impact on a global scale”, shared Michal Rokosz, Partner at Inovo VC. 

Hedepy

Solution: Their digital platform, founded by Lukas Krcil, Roman Zamecnik and Martin Zdrazil, offers psychological and psychiatric support, including workplace and school therapy.

Hedepy has been active in the Czech market since 2020. Over the course of four years, the platform has extended its reach to ten additional European markets, such as Poland, Romania, Ukraine, Greece, and Finland. It holds the leading position in its sector in five of these markets and presently delivers over 60% of its therapies internationally.

Moreover, the platform launched online psychiatric services in 2023, provided via verified psychiatrists in collaboration with Unicare Medical.

Upheal 

Solution: Another Czech startup, a platform for mental health clinicians, brings an AI-powered space for clinicians to save time through note-taking and transcribing sessions. It assists clinicians with securing video calling, and organizing the data into summaries, highlights, and other analytics.

According to Upheal’s data, the company is now processing 25K therapy and psychiatry sessions monthly.

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In February, Upheal raised $3.25M in a round, led by Credo Ventures, with the participation of KAYA VC and Inovia Capital.

Digiburn 

Solution: A digital burnout check-up and treatment mobile app was launched in 2020 by Georgi Natchev. Previously, he shared for The Recursive that as more people will look for mental health solutions, telemedicine will remain a top MedTech tool. 

Digiburn empowers users to proactively manage their mental well-being, whether for prevention or addressing existing conditions. It offers regular burnout check-ups via the app. These check-ups are integral to a three-month self-guided journey aimed at reconnecting with the mind and recognize patterns that contribute to stress.

4mind

Mental health at the workplace is another concern that has been on the rise for the past couple of years, as the data shows that the mental health of workers in Europe is worsening

Solution: Romanian 4mind, established in 2020 by Adina Pintea, is a company that aims to tackle this by providing cost-effective solutions accessible to companies of all scales. The founder previously emphasized for The Recursive the necessity for employers to possess suitable resources to assist employees with various mental health concerns.

Users have the option to engage in individual therapy sessions, participate in group sessions and webinars, talk with chatbots, and discover digital activities.

Sentur

Solution: Founded by Faris Sweis, former CTO of Telerik, and experienced clinical psychologist Sarah Houy, this platform merges AI and digital therapy. It aims to serve as an easily accessible and efficient digital companion, offering 24/7 support to users. 

In 2023, the company experienced significant growth, acquiring over 1K customers primarily from North America, the UK, and Australia, reflecting the increasing global demand for mental health services. The company is co-based in Sofia, Bulgaria and Denver, Colorado.

LANGaware

Solution: LANGaware employs AI to predict and monitor cognitive and mental health conditions (such as Mild Cognitive Decline, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Depression).

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Founded by Dr. Vassiliki Rentoumi, a Greek researcher, LANGaware introduces innovation in healthcare by utilizing digital biomarkers to analyze language, voice, and speech. The platform has undergone thorough testing and has demonstrated effectiveness in clinical as well as virtual care environments in both the US and Greece.

LANGaware’s clients are health systems, providers, and pharma companies aiming to lower healthcare expenses and enhance patient results by ensuring precise diagnoses and reducing unnecessary treatments.

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https://therecursive.com/author/teodoraatanasova/

Teodora Atanasova is a News Editor at The Recursive. She covers everything around funding rounds, exits, startups expanding to international markets, big tech opening R&D in CEE, meaningful for the ecosystem partnerships.