We're facing a mental health crisis in this country. One in five U.S. adults today lives with a diagnosable mental illness, and the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 have led to nearly half of Americans to report that the coronavirus crisis is harming their mental health, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll. As the pandemic disrupts our lives physically, socially, emotionally, and financially, many of us will experience a subclinical mental health struggle with anxiety, mood issues, family and relationships.
As a psychiatrist, I'm especially worried about people who can't access the mental health support they need, often because they cannot find therapists they can afford who have availability. Finding a mental health provider who can actually treat you is the first hurdle, since most are fully booked with standing patients. Online directories offer long lists of providers, but it's almost impossible to tell who is available to see new patients. Then there's the expense: According to the CDC, 29% of adults with a cognitive disability were not able to see a doctor due to costs. Even those with insurance have no guarantee of finding help, as insurance provider lists are often so inaccurate they are nothing more than ghost networks. An estimated 50% providers who accept insurance are unavailable for new patients.
We need to fix this. For a long time I've thought about what this fix should look like: an online marketplace for qualified mental health providers that makes it easy to find a doctor or therapist in your area, with expertise in your particular issue, who has availability to see you, and who accepts your insurance. You choose your provider, and click to book an appointment. This marketplace also benefits the doctors and therapists, who gain a pipeline of new patients into their practice, help with appointment scheduling, and an EMR system for maintaining patient notes and simple billing.
This is exactly what Andrew Adams has built with Headway, a mental health marketplace which matches patients and providers. It's designed to give care providers software to manage medical documentation, scheduling and billing — and then, in exchange for credentialing the providers as in-network, offer insurance companies access to a rapidly scaling network of providers.
A Stanford-trained engineer and entrepreneur, Andrew is an astute technologist who works late nights and talks a mile a minute. In my first call with him, as we riffed on the Headway concept, I could see the sketch in my head coming to life. A few days later we invested in Headway's Series A funding round. The company is scaling rapidly in New York, and is well-positioned to grow nationally at a time when we critically need this help.
If there's ever been a time when a new business arises to meet the moment, we are there. By fixing barriers to access and cost, I believe Headway is on track to help many people get the help they need, and deserve.