Teen behavioral health app BeMe inks partnerships with payers in Kansas, California

BeMe, a digital behavioral health app aimed at teenagers, has inked several partnerships with major payers, including $1.5 million in investment from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas (BCBSKS).

Through the investment, BeMe's platform will be made available to 20,000 teenagers across the Sunflower State. Executives said in an announcement that tools like BeMe will become increasingly critical as youth mental health issues continue to worsen.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among those aged 15 to 24, BCBSKS noted.

Nicki Tessler, CEO of BeMe, told Fierce Healthcare that while the COVID-19 pandemic has shined a brighter light on these challenges, it didn't create them.

"I don't see it as exacerbated so much as I see it as revealed," she said. "It's brought attention and energy to the space in a way it's needed for a long time."

In addition to the partnership with BCBSKS, BeMe earlier this month signed on with Inland Empire Health Plan and Molina Healthcare of California to offer the platform to about 72,000 teens across San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

The team-up comes on the heels of new legislation in the state that requires all youth covered in Medi-Cal plans to have more equal access to behavioral health services.

The BeMe app takes a "medicine in honey" approach to potentially disguise clinical interventions in activities that teens find fun, Tessler said. For example, a user may be prompted to draw a sea creature, but on the back end that drawing is useful as a distress tolerance skill within dialectical behavioral therapy.

Mental health coaching is available 14 hours per day, seven days a week, Tessler said. There is also around-the-clock crisis support for teens who need that level of care.

Tessler, herself a clinical psychologist, said she was inspired to launch BeMe as the mother of teen daughters, wishing to show them "bold moves" that can be taken to improve people's lives.

According to the Kansas announcement, BeMe has seen significant momentum over the past year as more health plans have adopted the platform. Previous investors include Flare Capital, Polaris Partners and California Health Care Foundation, among others.

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or need help for a friend or loved one, call the national Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988 to receive professional, confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days per week.