Startups Brightline, Brightside Health spark big investments for virtual behavioral health

The weather forecast called for cloudy skies in the Bay Area on Tuesday, but it was a dazzling day for two mental health startups.

Brightline, a company that provides virtual behavioral health care for children, adolescents and families, banked a $105 million series C funding round. The Silicon Valley company has lined up notable venture capital and payer investors. Global investment firm KKR led the round, and existing investors GV (formerly Google Ventures), Optum Ventures, Oak HC/FT, Threshold, 7wireVentures, Children's Medical Center Corporation (parent corporation of Boston Children's Hospital) and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts also participated.

The company has brought in more than $200 million to date.

Another Bay Area company, Brightside Health, a telemedicine platform that offers access to personalized treatment and providers for a range of mental health concerns, secured $50 million in series B funding, the company announced Tuesday.

ACME Capital and Mousse Partners led the round, with participation from existing investors Bullpen Capital, Triventures and Trousdale Ventures, bringing Brightside Health’s total funding to date to $75 million.

Digital health startups focused on mental health continue to rake in eye-popping investments. Mental health startups in the U.S. maintained their spot as top money raisers in 2021, bringing in $5.1 billion—$3.3 billion more than any other clinical indication in 2021, and nearly double 2020’s funding total of $2.7 billion, according to a Rock Health report.

Brightline eyeing next phase of growth

The latest funding round pushes Brightline's valuation to $750 million, Bloomberg reported.

Launched in 2019, Brightline, formerly Emilio Healthcare, developed a technology-enabled behavioral health home for children and their families. The company's growth comes at a time when rates of behavioral health conditions are skyrocketing across the country and having a disproportionate impact on working families—leading to rampant productivity loss and employees leaving the paid workforce in droves. One in 5 caregivers report having quit their jobs in the past year or are planning to do so in the coming year to care for their children's mental health.

The company's platform offers digital on-demand support, coaching programs, and extensive clinical services to support families struggling with anxiety, cyberbullying, ADHD and depression.

The company plans to use the new investment to expand access to care by exploring coordination with ecosystem partners for specialized care, innovating its care model with interactive content interventions and expanded care modalities, and continuing to provide next-generation employee benefits, company executives said in a press release.

Brightline also plans to expand its tailor-made services for teens as well as specialty programs to support diverse populations including caregivers of young children with autism spectrum disorder and youth who identify as LGBTQ+ and/or BIPOC.

Brightline's digital on-demand platform, Connect, along with its coaching programs and clinical services are now available in all 50 states.

The company now works with 50 employers and covers more than 24 million health plan lives with plans to reach over 50 million health plan lives in 2022. Brightline partners with health plans and employers including Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Blue Shield of California, Competitive Health, Municipalities, Colleges, Schools Insurance Group (MCSIG), Sequoia, Stanford University and Xcel Energy.

"Our healthcare system is failing our children, which has devastating public health and economic consequences. We simply cannot ignore that fact any longer," said Naomi Allen, co-founder and CEO of Brightline, in a statement. "Brightline is the only nationally scaled leader serving this immense need in the market. With this investment, we are uniquely positioned to continue to expand our on-demand support and care offerings to meet the broad spectrum of youth mental health needs."

Brightside Health looks to scale up virtual mental health care

Brightside Health plans to use its fresh capital to expand access to high-quality mental health care to more people across the country, improve the platform, strike new partnerships and build its team, with plans to grow from 57 employees to an expected 175 this year.

“The Brightside model of combining data, technology, and clinicians is changing mental health outcomes, with 86% of our members feeling better within the first 12 weeks,” said Brad Kittredge, founder and CEO of Brightside Health, in a statement.

"Because we stand behind the quality and accountability of our care model, we are happy to put our dollars behind delivering the best possible outcomes and open up the path to true value-based care in mental health. Together, we can treat depression and anxiety in an approachable, affordable way and positively change lives," Kittredge said.

The San Francisco-based company, founded in 2017, treats the full spectrum of symptom severity, including people with complex conditions, and offers timely appointments from home, available in as little as 24 hours. The company offers access to treatment through video visits, unlimited messaging, ongoing support and medication delivery.

Brightside Health executives say the platform adheres to evidence-based approaches, guided by a network of psychiatric providers and licensed therapists who utilize innovative support tools and follow structured, clinically proven protocols to deliver effective care at scale. 

After an intake assessment, Brightside Health leverages a proprietary machine-learning algorithm to evaluate more than 100 data points about an individual to efficiently assist providers in tailoring treatment to each person. In a recent study, Brightside Health delivered over 50% higher treatment response and remission rates than a leading U.S. health system. Currently, 86% of Brightside Health’s patients experience clinically significant improvement, and 71% achieve remission levels, within their first 12 weeks of treatment.

“From day one, Brightside Health has been committed to delivering superior clinical outcomes and the safest possible care. That came across clearly even from the earliest conversations we had three years ago. This north star has wisely guided the team to develop a truly scalable precision medicine platform that has resulted in go-to-market partnerships with clinically-discerning national payers, opening up access to superior mental health care for over 30 million insurance members nationwide,” said Aike Ho, lead investor at ACME Capital, in a statement.