SoftBank leads mental health startup Cerebral's $300M round, propelling valuation to $4.8B

Launched just two years ago, online mental health startup Cerebral is growing rapidly, propelled by increased demand for behavioral health care services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The San Francisco-based company banked $300 million in a series C round led by the SoftBank Vision Fund 2. New and existing investors including Prysm Capital, Access Industries, WestCap Group and Artis Ventures also backed the funding round.

In two years, the company has raised $462 million in total funding.

The startup also counts gymnastics champion Simone Biles as an investor and chief impact officer.

Cerebral aims to be a one-stop shop for comprehensive, online mental health care and wellness. The company offers counseling, therapy and medication delivery and management online for mental and behavioral health conditions such as depression, anxiety, serious mental illnesses, substance use disorder and nutrition.

“Our rapid growth is a testament to the dedication that the Cerebral team has to our mission: to transform access to high-quality mental health care. We wish to build a world where anyone, regardless of their situation, can feel comfortable coming forward to get the mental health treatment they need and not be burdened by barriers like stigma, cost, and convenience,” said Kyle Robertson, founder and CEO of Cerebral, in a statement.

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The company has been growing quickly to keep up with an unmet need in the U.S. market, he said. "It is still just the beginning for Cerebral," he added.

Exacerbated by the pandemic, mental health facilities have experienced severe capacity constraints with many patients waiting three to four months for appointments with a psychiatrist or a therapist.

Cerebral has more than 2,000 clinicians practicing across all 50 states, which enables the company to dramatically cut wait times compared to traditional mental health providers, according to company executives.

The company has provided care to more than 200,000 patients since its January 2020 inception.

While traditionally direct-to-consumer, the company is now laser-focused on investing in new service offerings and accelerating value-based care arrangements with health plans. Cerebral is currently in-network with major health plans such as Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, Magellan and Medicare, covering more than 80 million lives, and continuing to grow. The company also is partnering with a growing number of employers. 

Aligning with its mission to improve access to high-quality, long-term mental health care, Cerebral is investing in new service offerings, strategic partnerships, international expansion and M&A opportunities to further solidify its position as the one-stop shop for behavioral care. 

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“Roughly half of the American population is affected by mental health issues. However, obstacles like cost, limited provider availability and fear of judgment remain in the way of getting the treatment they need,” said Priya Saiprasad, partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, in a statement. “We believe that Cerebral is lowering the barriers to mental health care with an integrated platform combining therapy, counseling and medication management for effective, long-term support."

The mental health market is booming, and investors are pouring major cash into the sector. Globally, mental health startups raised a record high of $2 billion in equity funding in 2020, according to CB Insights.

Mental health is the top-funded therapeutic focus so far in 2021 with $3.1 billion raise, according to a recent report by Rock Health, a venture fund dedicated to digital health.

Cerebral is among a crop of digital mental health startups that have reached "unicorn" status, which signifies a privately held startup company valued at over $1 billion. Modern Health, Lyra Health and Ginger, now merged with Headspace, are also in this camp of startups.