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Breakthrough raises $5M to improve access to mental health care for millions

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One-in-four Americas suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder and far too many go without treatment.

Breakthrough has raised $5 million to make mental healthcare more accessible through its online counseling and telepsychiatry service.

Breakthrough allows you to get “therapy from your own couch” by connecting you with licensed mental health professionals who conduct sessions via live video.  Each therapist provides a video introduction, so patients can choose someone they feel comfortable with. Patients can find, book, and talk to therapists online to get the care they need from home.

The company accepts insurance from Blue Shield of California and Magellan, which includes over 2 million members. The company claims that this distinguishes it from competitors and represents the largest coverage of any telepsychiatry service other than the Veterans Affairs department.

Access to mental health care is worse than other types of medial services. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said that 60 percent of people with mental health conditions and nearly 90 percent of people with substance use disorders don’t receive the care they need. Access to mental health care is worse than for other types of doctors, and 45 percent of the untreated cite cost as the primary barrier. Seeking help for mental health issues is expensive and associated with a stigma.

By putting the process online, Breakthrough seeks to cut down on both. The anonymous aspect helps patients feel safer and the short, at-home sessions are cheaper than a scheduled doctor visit. This is also helpful for people in rural areas or with packed schedules who struggle to make it into a doctor’s office. Furthermore, research shows that telemental health services deliver th same clinical outcomes as those achieved when the service was provided face-to-face.

The founders are experts in this field. CEO Mark Goldenson spent four years doing research in the Stanford Department of Psychology and was previously a product manager at Paypal. COO Julian Cohen spent 30 years working in mental health care. He served as the CMO for United Behavioral Health, CEO of Cigna Behavioral, and as President of the Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Institute of Psychiatry. Chief Medical Information Officer Dr. Mark Levine founded one of the largest psychiatric part cites in Northern California, and VP of Engineering Andy Neuschatz was a founder of the startup BabyCenter.

This first round of financing was led by The Social+Capital Partnership with participation from First Round Capital and Great Oaks Venture Capital. Breakthrough is based in Redwood City.

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