About one in five adults in the U.S. experience mental illness each year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Yet, nearly a quarter of adults with a mental illness are unable to receive treatment, Mental Health America reported.
San Diego-based Headlight, which announced last week that it raised $18 million in Series A funding, aims to improve access to mental health services. The company also hired new leadership, including CEO Geoff Swindle, who was formerly chief business officer at PillPack and Amazon Pharmacy.
Headlight — previously called Sokya Health — cares for patients both in-person and virtually in Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Texas and Washington. It offers talk therapy, medication and nasal esketamine treatment (which is derived from ketamine). It treats a variety of mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, trauma and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Headlight is in network with most major insurers, such as Aetna, Cigna and UnitedHealthcare. All of its clinicians are full-time, W-2 employees.
“I think, fundamentally, we’re in a mental health crisis in this country right now. Access is a problem. Affordability is a problem. The way we’re approaching the market and I think what differentiates us is we’re really leaning into our model of a full-time clinician who is a W-2 employee with benefits,” Swindle said in an interview.
The $18 million Series A funding round was led by Matrix and EPIC Ventures. In total, the mental health company has raised about $24 million, Swindle stated.
With the financing, Headlight will expand into new markets and hire “hundreds” of therapists by 2025, according to a news release. The company will also invest in its technology and product, Swindle added. He said he plans to take some of the lessons he learned from the pharmacy space at PillPack and Amazon Pharmacy and bring it into the mental health space.
“I think it goes back to developing a customer experience that really does simplify access in the mental healthcare landscape,” Swindle said. “Navigating that journey is very complicated. People struggle, number one, with just getting access, and number two, knowing where to go and how they approach it. Do they pay cash or can they bill through their insurance? I think as we leverage our product, our customer experience, and our technology to really simplify the interactions with our customers and our clients, that solves a huge chunk of the need that exists out in the marketplace.”
He added that the company’s goal is to develop a brand that is “very consumer-focused” and to follow outcome measures.
“There are many players in this space, but I fundamentally don’t believe that many of the big problems in mental healthcare are being solved,” Swindle said. “And I think it’s going to take a creative mindset to think through clinical protocols and processes on the continuum of care for us to really solve that. I think that’s going to require us to lean deeply into our clinicians and also lean deeply into how we build the best customer experiences for people trying to navigate that journey.”
Photo: SIphotography, Getty Images