Venture Capital Firms See Profits in Therapy, but Is a Profit Model Appropriate?
Toll on Mental Health
In the wake of the pandemic, many Americans have struggled with their mental health. Lock-downs, working from home, social distancing, and even masks left some feeling disconnected and lonely. Fears related to the virus and the general uncertainty around outcomes left many in a state of ongoing anxiety. For those who lost loved ones, grief was often kept bottled inside as so many were left unable to be with their loved ones to say goodbye.
The World Health Organization estimates there was a 25% increase in anxiety and depression during year one of the pandemic. Therapists are experiencing an explosion in requests for appointments as pandemic-weary patients seek support.
Breaking Down Roadblocks to Care
The demand for mental health services is making it difficult for some to get timely or affordable care. Some therapist’s practices have wait lists. There is also the issue of whether a practitioner is in-network with insurance.
Some investors are addressing these potential roadblocks. Private equity companies and venture capital firms such as KKR and Summit Partners are investing billions to acquire psychology practices and to build out telehealth platforms. Investors spent $4.5 billion in the US last year on mental-health technology start-ups.
Is Profit Model Appropriate?
The investors claim they will offer more in-network providers, enhanced protection of patient privacy, and more clinicians, which could ultimately boost access to care. The build-out of remote care options could also help in this regard.
Critics argue prioritizing profits could come at the expense of patient care. As investors look for ways to cut costs and increase the bottom line, a variety of scenarios could play out. Possible issues include practitioners being required to see many patients per day or being pressured to prescribe unnecessary medications.
Those looking for care may feel the need to ask who’s calling the shots as they seek out a therapist. It’s a sensitive issue that speaks to the need for expanded focus on mental health both on a financial and societal level.
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