Mental health start-ups in Southeast Asia are getting more attention from investors. Last week, Intellect announced a strategic investment from IHH Healthcare, Asia’s largest private healthcare group. Now Thought out, another digital mental health platform focused on Asia, has raised $4 million in a pre-Series A round led by Sheares Healthcare Group. Sheares is a wholly owned subsidiary of Temasek.
The round, which Thoughtfull said was oversubscribed, also included participation from returning investors Vulpes Investment Management, The Hive Southeast Asia, global family offices, and founders of companies like Grab and Zalora. australiabusinessblog.com last covered Thoughtfull in October 2021 when it raised its seed round.
Thoughtfull is Sheares’ first investment in mental health in Asia. Sheares’ other investments include the latest exit, a US-based senior care company called Iora Health, which was acquired by One Medical.
The startup’s platform, called ThoughtfullChat, includes personalized self-guided content and progress tracking, and access to mental health professionals through video calls and text-based coaching.
Thoughtfull claims that sales have increased a total of 30x since its launch in 2019. In the past year, sales grew 10x year-on-year despite economic downturn. The mental health professional network now spans 57 locations in Asia and has users in 95 locations around the world. The app is available in 11 languages.
The startup is addressing challenges such as fragmented mental health systems and the lack of coverage in insurance policies, making it difficult for employers to include mental health programs in their benefits.
Thoughtfull says that in 2022 it became the first mental health startup in the region to partner with insurers such as AIA Malaysia to give corporate clients access to mental health support through AIA’s Corporate Solutions portfolio. It also launched a similar partnership with FWD, another insurer, to provide access to affordable mental health care in Hong Kong and Thailand. One of the reasons it partners with insurers is to make mental health care more affordable for both corporate employers and individuals.
In a prepared statement, Khoo Ee Ping, Chief Corporate Development Officer of Sheares Healthcare, said: “Thoughtfull’s approach to scaling seamless, end-to-end mental health care aligns with Sheares’ mission to invest in companies that shape the future of the shaping healthcare through innovative and patient-centred care. Their successive payor partnerships clearly indicate the demand for their proposition and testify to the strength of their team.”
In addition to Intellect and Thoughtfull, the emerging mental health startup ecosystem in Southeast Asia also includes MindFi, a mental health and wellness enterprise platform backed by Canva, Global Founders Capital and M Venture Partners.