Lyra Health expands specialized care for teens, kids in response to growing childhood mental health crisis

Employer-focused Lyra Health is building out specialized care for teens and kids in response to the growing crisis in childhood mental health.

The company is expanding its proprietary network of evidence-based behavioral health experts to provide families with access to more than 3,900 licensed providers. Lyra also offers a unified platform for comprehensive therapy and medication management treatment options for kids and teens aged 0-17.

“Traditional approaches to childhood mental health care have failed our kids, as well as their parents and caregivers,” said Connie Chen, M.D., chief operating officer at Lyra Health. “It has been extraordinarily difficult for families to find specialists practicing evidence-based care, and parents are left poorly supported when coping with these difficult and complex family situations.”

Nearly 1 in 5 children suffer from a mental, emotional or behavioral health disorder, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A recent study found that the prevalence of depression and anxiety symptoms in children and teens since COVID-19 has doubled.

The pandemic has also intensified mental health issues and other psychosocial stressors among parents and caregivers, with 70% of parents reporting symptoms of anxiety and depression, stress disorders or suicidal ideation.

"Mental health of parents and kids are just inextricably linked. You can't really talk about them separately," Chen said in an interview. "Watching your kids struggle with mental health challenges, it's just all-consuming, and it really affects the parent as well." 

Lyra's platform offers comprehensive, age-tailored support for kids and teens of all ages, Chen noted. "We think about specialization at a very nuanced level for kids. A toddler is different developmentally and cognitively and in their experiences than a school-aged child," she said.

Families also face significant access challenges for mental health services. Only 1 in 5 kids gets specialized mental health care, Chen said.

"Because of the access challenges, parents spend a lot of time trying to find help," she noted, citing the time spent trying to schedule appointments, going to appointments and missing work.

"Oftentimes, by the time they get help, the child is in crisis. That stress really translates to the workplace," she said.

About 21% of parents voluntarily quit their jobs in the past year or are planning to quit their jobs in the coming year, particularly to address their child's behavioral health needs. 

"There's incredible need with so many people are seeking care and there's just a huge shortage of great care options available. That is precisely the problem we're trying to address with the new offerings," Chen noted.

Lyra also worked to ensure that the care options provided are integrated on the platform. "If you treat every individual family member separately, that really doesn't speak to the fact that everyone makes the family unit," she said.

Burlingame, California-based Lyra Health provides an array of in-person and virtual behavioral health benefits to more than 1,500 leading companies and serves more than 10 million members around the world.

As part of its expanded offerings, the company brings together evidence-based therapists with digital content created expressly for adolescents, utilizing Lyra’s technology-enabled model. Lyra's enhanced therapy for teens streamlines access to specialized providers and combines video-based therapy with between-session digital lessons, exercises, guides and assessments tailored to the unique needs of each teenager in care. 

"All of this content has been developed through extensive user research with many teams to really shape the character development, storylines for visual style and to really ensure that we are addressing teen-specific challenges like social anxiety and perfectionism and bullying," she said. The company takes a thoughtful approach to how it approaches privacy for teens seeking mental health support, she added.

Lyra Health expanded its coaching programs for parents and caregivers to provide guidance, teach new skills and address common parenting challenges such as tantrums and bullying. 

The new solutions will be available in 2023.

Families also face the challenge of managing care for complex needs. As part of its advanced care coordination solutions, Lyra is introducing one-on-one support to help parents and caregivers connect with providers specializing in Autism Spectrum Disorder.

“Since Lyra’s inception, child and adolescent mental health has been a critical area of focus, as demonstrated by the depth of our specialized provider network and care programs,” Chen said. “Our clinical team continues to research and develop new services to support young people and their families through evidence-based care and engaging apps and content.”

Launched in 2015, Lyra Health works with companies across a broad sweep of industries from retail to healthcare, manufacturing and tech and has built out solutions to meet the growing demand worldwide for accessible and comprehensive mental health services. 

The company offers evidence-based care across a range of mental health concerns, including more serious issues like alcohol use disorder and suicidality, with programs for those conditions rolled out in early 2022.

As it grows, Lyra has broadened its offerings, ramping up its focus on workplace mental health with new services for HR leaders and managers. In March, the company launched new services to offer managers and teams data insights, workplace advisory services and a multimodal approach to learning to increase mental health literacy.

Its among of crop of new companies focused on expanding access to mental health care for employees at an individual level and has caught the interest of venture capital investors.

In January, Lyra Health snagged $235 million in series G funding, sending the health tech unicorn’s valuation to $5.58 billion as the company focuses its efforts on global expansion. Lyra has raised nearly $1 billion ($915 million to be exact), to date.

Lyra has demonstrated, through peer-reviewed research, that its model helps people improve their mental health conditions more quickly than traditional approaches, according to the company.