Using Innovation to Solve the Child Mental Health Crisis
Children’s mental health is a growing problem, exasperated by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, from 2007 to 2019, there was a 329% increase in pediatric emergency room visits for deliberate self-harm and a 60% increase in visits for all mental health disorders. This led the American Academy of Pediatrics and other child health organizations to declare a National State of Emergency in Children’s Mental Health in 2021.
Despite the gravity of the crisis, the U.S. is experiencing a severe shortage of mental health practitioners. By some estimates, half of the children in the United States who have a mental health disorder do not receive the treatment they need, and 80% of counties have no child or adolescent psychologists at all. As a result, desperate parents drive hours to get their children the help they need, doctor’s offices are swamped with more patients than they can handle, and ERs become holding rooms for suicidal teens waiting days for a bed to open up in a facility.
The shortage of healthcare providers isn’t the only obstacle to getting children the help they need, especially for lower-income individuals. Even when an available provider can be found, they often do not accept Medicaid, potentially cutting off access to care for over 40 million children in the U.S.
Youme Health: A Telehealth Platform Solving the Child Mental Health Crisis
Genius Guild invested in the seed round of Youme Healthcare, a child mental health telehealth platform that has delivered close to 4,000 sessions to pediatric clients and their families over the last year, with 70% of their clients on federally funded insurance like Medicaid. Because Medicaid reimbursement rates vary by state and medical professions, Youme Healthcare can use its expert knowledge of the insurance landscape to negotiate rates with non-Medicaid providers and Medicaid MCOs. Youme Healthcare’s business model is also 100% telehealth so that children and their families can receive their services from anywhere with an internet connection, whether they’re in a rural or urban environment.
Given the scope of the problem, both government and private resources are being deployed to create solutions. Venture capital funding for digital solutions to the child mental health crisis grew to $919 million in 2021, up from $54 million in 2017 and more than double the amount raised in 2020 (Rock Health). A number of startups have entered the market, including Brightline, Daybreak, Little Otter, and Charlie Health, to develop digital solutions to address this crisis and get help for children in need.
Why Genius Guild Invested in Youme
Genius Guild invests in companies led by domain experts using a market-based approach to solving some of the world’s toughest problems. Hafeezah Muhammad, the founder and CEO of Youme was the vice president of sales and customer experience for Thriveworks, one of the largest mental health companies in the U.S. Other members of the team include clinical director Jennifer Ryan, who has spent over 10 years in pediatric behavioral health, and revenue cycle director Crystal Gray, who has over 15 years of experience in medical insurance claims billing.
Genius Guild invests in companies with scalable, sustainable business models. Hafeezah’s deep expertise in the space, especially how to navigate federal and state programs to maximize reimbursement rates, has helped the company create a strong protective moat. In Youme’s first year, the company’s annual revenue rate (ARR) was over $420K on less than $20,000 in outside investment. The average provider reimbursement paid out by Medicaid to Youme is $120, with $50 on average paid to Youme’s healthcare providers and $70 retained as Youme’s revenue.
Genius Guild invests in companies that are making a difference. 82% of Youme’s clients have seen improvement by their fourth therapy session. Youme also works with families alongside their children in individual, group, and parent training sessions in order to engage the entire family and community systems that impact children and adolescents.
As we continue to focus on our investments in health and clean/green tech spaces, we would welcome introductions to corporate innovation and investment arms of major healthcare companies, pharmaceuticals, and insurance companies for partnership and co-investment opportunities. Please feel free to connect them directly to Kathryn at firstname.lastname@example.org.