Q&A: How Headspace Health’s acquisitions are changing its mental health product – Reuters


Headspace Health revealed two acquisitions this year, the latest coming earlier this month when the digital mental health company announced the purchase of mental wellness app Shine. In a crowded field of mental health startups, the company is using acquisitions to grow its product and add new capabilities. Leslie Witt, director of product and design at Headspace, said the Shine deal was part of a larger effort to provide content that meets the needs of more groups, including people of color, women and the LGBTQIA+ community. Headspace Health also picked up Sayana, maker of AI-powered mental health and sleep tracking apps. And Headspace itself is the result of a merger between meditation app Headspace and virtual mental health startup Ginger, which shut down nearly a year ago. Witt sat down with MobiHealthNews to discuss the company’s acquisition strategy, how its offering might change in the future, and what’s next for the competitive digital mental health industry. MobiHealthActualités: So it wasn’t Headspace’s first acquisition this year. How do you choose your acquisition targets? Do you plan to continue at a similar pace? Leslie Wit: I think, as you’re no doubt seeing, the consolidation of the mental health and behavioral health areas, which we’ve been talking about for some time, is starting to happen. In some ways, the biggest part of our story that overlaps with that is the merger of Ginger and Headspace proper. But we see many opportunities through three lenses. Most of the acquisitions we’ve made, both as a combined entity and some of the ones we’ve made separately, are fit for some content purpose that aligns with our core mission and help increase our reach from from a self-service mental health perspective. , capabilities that bring new levels of technology, especially around AI, conversation and community, and then talent. All of this happened in small consolidations, where we’re not looking to keep their offering as a stand-alone offering, but to incorporate the talent they bring to the table in our core focus areas, accelerate our building capacity, and then increase our content libraries. MNH: You were in Headspace for about two years, shortly before the merger with Ginger. How has the experience changed from a product perspective? Spirit: I’m going to share with you a little bit about why I joined Headspace, which was basically to respond to what we heard from our potential members, often members who came and then didn’t find what they needed, which was more benefits and acute mental health care. And from our corporate buyers, they were seeing this beloved brand, a well-known brand that was attracting 30%, 50% of their employees to sign up and open a door to care. But that front door only led so far. I fundamentally believe in the power of mindfulness and meditation tools, but they cannot meet all mental health needs. And especially when someone is in a state of acute anxiety, acute depression, they need access to professional human services. For Headspace, this led to the direct realization that we didn’t have a quick and viable path forward without merging, and Ginger was the perfect partner to partner with. We have been working on this landscape of services over the last year to ensure that we can really open the door to care for everyone. That we can learn who you are, what you need, assess your goals, classify you in a personalized way towards the right type of transfer of care, with the right start. And put you on a path where we really set the dimensions of a lifelong mental health journey, helping you develop habits of practice that give you a deeper capacity for self-care that can then be intensified when the need arises. MNH: What are some of your goals for changing your offering in the future? Spirit: one is personalization, not only of services, but of measurement and results, so that we can continuously be in a cycle of learning and improvement where we understand what you need from the beginning, we will serve the right thing, we evaluate whether or not . worked for you, and do it both individually and together. We’re building what I often call the middle piece, the bridge that exists between the self-service content of the Headspace app and the text-based coaching, teletherapy and telepsychiatry of the Ginger service. To really focus on more clinical content and programmatic content, we launched a stress program. This is a 30-day program that really takes you in a way supported by clinical and behavioral science, from an introduction to stress reduction to a stress reduction habit and practice. We’re doing the same for anxiety and sleep, and we see a lot of potential to start hybridizing the interaction between coaching and that level of human support in the core product itself. And last but not least, I think we have a lot of opportunities in the community. We see people engage in an almost cohort-based way around certain content areas. [For example,] we see people coming to Headspace in times of struggle with infertility and we see a lot of potential and desire to start linking community and peer support. MNH: There are a lot of digital mental health companies out there right now, and you mentioned earlier that we might be at the beginning of a wave of mergers. How do you think the whole space will change this year? Spirit: Some of the ways I see the game changing is that we go back, in a very good way, to some of our pre-Covid rules. And with that, I think there’s a lot of pressure [figuring out] what is the persistence, the relevance of telehealth. What we typically find is that, of all the telehealth services, the ones that catch the most in digital form are actually behavioral health. We’re starting to look at some of this teen mental health crisis. I think it’s outsourced right now. And as a mother of 11-year-old twins who sees what is happening in this landscape, there needs to be more participants in this space. And we must celebrate those who have already been there and ensure that their capacity and access continues to expand for everyone. We also see where companies have played an outsized role in promoting employee access to mental health services. There are more and more needs and support from the public sector. We have a relationship with LA County and see great potential to partner with governments, educational institutions and broader health systems to ensure that health parity and equity goals are met.
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