Emotional wellness startup Aura raises $2.7 million from Cowboy Ventures and Reach Capital

Aura, an app for emotional well-being, has raised a $2.7 million seed round co-led by Cowboy Ventures and Reach Capital, with participation from others.

When Aura first launched a couple of years ago, its bread and butter was short, three-to-seven-minute meditations based on your current mood — be that stressed, anxious, happy or sad. Since then, co-founders Steve and Daniel Lee say the company has grown to a few million users. “We’ve since grown to become everyone’s emotional wellness assistant,” Steve told me. “We ask how people are feeling right now and then offer content to help them feel better.” Aura works with therapists, coaches and meditation teachers to offer a variety of content to help people get the type of help they’re looking for. In addition to meditation, Aura offers life coaching, music and inspirational stories. Premium users, who pay $60 per year, have unlimited access to content,
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Ex-One Medical exec launches mental health studio

Access to timely, quality mental health services can be a struggle. Octave, a mental health studio founded by Sandeep Acharya, One Medical’s former head of strategy, is launching today to help with just that.

“The mission of Octave is to create a society where people are as proactive about their mental well-being as they are about their physical well-being,” Acharya told TechCrunch. Octave offers individual therapy, a stress management coaching program and daily, drop-in classes for people seeking mindfulness, help with insomnia and general coping skills. Drop-in classes start at $15 per class while coaching is $75 per session. Octave, however, is still quite costly for ongoing therapy ($180 a session) — and cost is often a significant barrier for people seeking mental health services. Octave is designed to address people’s therapy needs who may not already have a relationship with a therapist.

Sandeep Acharya, Octave founder and CEO

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Sometimes You Just Have an Emotional Cold

If I get into an argument with someone, especially one that shouldn’t affect my life in any real way, I know I’m gonna feel like shit for a while, and that I need to lay low or I’ll make it worse. And now I have the right words for that feeling: an emotional cold.
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Former Uber exec Andrew Chapin takes the wraps off his stealth mental health startup

One can only imagine what it was like to work at Uber in the years leading up to Susan Fowler’s infamous blog post. Many of the company’s leaders were said to be overly-competitive, sexist and inappropriate — “brilliant jerks,” as Arianna Huffington once said, — and its over-arching “move fast and break things” mentality hardly left room for employees to take a step back and reflect on how the company’s culture was impacting their mental health. Andrew Chapin joined Uber in 2011 as one of its first hires in New York. He worked his way up to head of vehicle solutions and established Uber’s vehicle finance program, which helps drivers obtain and pay off car leases. He says the struggles within the company gave him severe anxiety, something he was all too familiar with from his stint as a commodities trader at Goldman Sachs. “There were days when I was walking
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MIT researchers teach a neural network to recognize depression

A new technology by MIT researchers can sense depression by analyzing the written and spoken responses by a patient. The system, pioneered by MIT’s CSAIL group, uses “a neural-network model that can be unleashed on raw text and audio data from interviews to discover speech patterns indicative of depression.” “Given a new subject, it can accurately predict if the individual is depressed, without needing any other information about the questions and answers,” the researchers write. The most important part of the system is that it is context-free. This means that it doesn’t require specific questions or types of responses. It simply uses day-to-day interactions as the source data. “We call it ‘context-free,’ because you’re not putting any constraints into the types of questions you’re looking for and the type of responses to those questions,” said researcher Tuka Alhanai. “Every patient will talk differently, and if the model sees changes
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How to Stay Sane When Your Baby Is in the NICU

When Amanda Sloane went home from the hospital two days after delivery, she left her newborn daughter, Emerie, in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). As Sloane was wheeled out the front doors empty handed, she passed wheelchair after wheelchair of women leaving with their newborn babies. And every time she… Read more...

Mental health startup Lantern winds down its customer operations

Mental health startup Lantern, which raised more than $20 million in funding, is winding down its commercial operations after a couple of acquisition deals fell through, TechCrunch has learned. As part of the wind-down, Lantern is laying off about 25 people, which is the majority of the staff, with a handful of former team members to focus on what’s next for the company. Their last days will be August 1, 2018. Lantern, which offers tools to deal with stress, anxiety and body image for about $50 a month, will continue to be available for paid customers through the end of the year. However, coaches are no longer available to users. All of Lantern’s programs were based on cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, which examines the relationship between thoughts, feelings and behaviors. The programs were designed to empower people to learn how to manage their anxiety, stress and/or body images on a daily
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MentalHappy helps companies send custom care packages to employees going through a rough time

For many people, their workplaces become like a second family. More companies are recognizing this with better benefits such as longer family leave and wellness programs. But when an employee needs to take a break or is going through a hard time, they can feel alienated–sometimes enough to seek a new job. MentalHappy wants to help them stay connected to their companies with care packages, called Cheerboxes, designed for people experiencing a major life event. Founded in 2016 by CEO Tamar Lucien and CTO Kwame Ampem, the Las Vegas-based startup is currently participating in Y Combinator’s accelerator program. Cheerboxes help signal that employers care about their workforce’s mental health and also fill a gap in the “corporate wellness” space. Even though companies can now offer a wide range of benefits ranging from meditation apps to better insurance plans, there still aren’t a lot of ways for them to express interest
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Meru Health wants to make mental health care more accessible

Getting mental health services can be burdensome. And if you’re already going through a tough time, you’re probably looking for help sooner than later. But based on the current landscape, it can take months to find the right therapist who also takes your insurance. This is where Meru Health hopes to come in. By providing its service as a benefit for employers to offer to their employees, Meru Health can operate as a first line of treatment where people can get help in a matter of weeks, Meru Health co-founder and CEO Kristian Ranta told TechCrunch. Ranta, who lost his brother to suicide a few years ago, said there are “unfortunately lots of people suffering from depression and who are vulnerable to burnout.” It’s true. Worldwide, more than 300 million people suffer from depression and 260 million suffer from anxiety disorders, according to the World Health Organization. Meru Health
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YC alum Modern Health, a startup focused on emotional wellbeing, gets $2.26M seed funding

Modern Health founders Alyson Friedensohn and Erica Johnson

About one year ago, a note from a CEO thanking his employee for using sick days to take care of her mental health went viral. It was a reminder to Alyson Friedensohn of what she wants to accomplish with Modern Health, the emotional health benefits startup she founded last year with neuroscientist Erica Johnson. “We want that to be normal. We want the email she sent to be normal, to be able to be that open,” Friedensohn tells TechCrunch. Modern Health, a Y Combinator alum, announced today that it has raised $2.26 million in seed funding for hiring, accelerating the development of its healthcare platform and growing its network of therapists, coaches and other providers. Offered as a benefit by companies, Modern Health’s services are meant to improve employee well-being and retention rates. The round was led by Afore, with participation
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Lyra Health raises $45M to create a smart network for treating mental health problems

Treating issues with mental health can be a daunting and very sensitive task for anyone that is suffering from any kind of mental illness — but the problem for many is that a lot of patients just don’t know where to start, according to David Ebersman. That’s where Lyra Health hopes to help. The service works with employers to offer a tool to their employees that helps them securely and confidentially begin to understand what kind of treatment they need to seek if they feel like they are suffering from any mental health problems. Employers naturally have a stake in this as they want their employees to stay health, but the goal is to offer a sort of safe space where users can benefit from years of growth in pattern matching and data to help them figure out where to start. The company said it has raised $45 million in a
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This eQuoo app games you to into learning useful psychological skills

 Mental health is one of the behest issues of recent times, with Kendall Jenner, Emma Stone, Lady Gaga and even The Rock opening up about their mental health issues. Even the royal family has got in on the act, setting up the Heads Together charity. And it’s not just a fleeting issue. The World Health Organisation says depression will overtake cancer as the world’s main… Read More

Two large Apple shareholders say it needs to research the impact of smartphones on kids

 Two of Apple’s institutional shareholders, hedge fund Jana Partners and California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), are calling on the company to study the impact of smartphone use on child development. In an open letter, the two investors said that after reviewing research, they believe that Apple needs to give parents more resources and software tools to make sure… Read More

Quartet raises $40M Series C to help healthcare providers collaborate on patient care

 Healthcare in America is a mess with no quick solutions and many people aren’t getting the help they need. Created to bridge mental and physical healthcare, New York City-based Quartet Health wants to make life better for patients with a platform that allows providers to collaborate on treatment plans. Currently available in six U.S. markets, Quartet announced today that it has raised… Read More

Pacifica launches a new online therapy service that integrates with its self-help app

 When admitting you are struggling with anxiety or depression is hard enough, asking for help can seem insurmountable. Pacifica’s self-help app was created to make cognitive behavioral therapy exercises accessible to more people. Now the startup is launching a Therapist Directory for users who want to take the next step. The service allows them to find a provider, attend consultations… Read More

Sunrise gives mental health patients AI-guarded group chat

 Between therapy sessions, mental health patients can feel alone. Sunrise Health is a new startup aiming to improve mental healthcare by combining the constant support of group chat, the openness afforded by anonymity, the guidance of professional therapists and the safeguard of artificial intelligence watching for abuse and emergencies. Read More