One year after their $3 billion mega-merger, Headspace and Ginger launch new ‘unified’ behavioral health offering
Headspace Health is rolling out a unified corporate mental health and wellness offering for its members. The rollout comes about a year after digital mental health companies Headspace and Ginger completed their $3 billion merger.
Through this new initiative, users will be able to access Ginger’s on-demand coaching, therapy and psychiatry services. The offering will also provide users with Headspace’s meditation and mindfulness offerings.
“Headspace Health’s unified experience is about making it easy to engage with mental health and wellbeing services and be kind to your mind, no matter where you are on your mental health journey” , Headspace CEO Russell Glass said in a statement.
In terms of overall strategic importance, the rollout reflects how Headspace and Ginger are increasingly combining their operational strengths to expand the company’s reach and impact. This has been a major focus for the pair since their blockbuster deal crossed the finish line in October 2021.
Karan Singh, COO of Headspace Health and co-founder of Ginger, addressed this topic during a MATTER conversation last week.
“It’s been challenging and fun bringing these teams and experiences together,” Singh said. “Coming out of this, [we’ve] has built an incredibly affordable, accessible and truly comprehensive mental health and wellbeing solution that covers everything from mindfulness and meditation, to coaching, therapy, psychiatry services and management of medicines for our members.
As part of the new rollout, employees using the unified enterprise platform will be able to access a personalized mental health plan and care navigation tool. During this time, employers will get insights into employee engagement and results.
The news from Headspace Health comes as rates of depression and anxiety have soared amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The World Health Organization reports that the pandemic has triggered a 25% increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide. This has spurred an influx of digital mental health tools and investments aimed at tackling the crisis.
However, most of the tools exclusively target low acuity cases.
The seeds of a unified platform
Since Headspace and Ginger announced their merger, the management team has focused on providing its partner companies and their employees with self-care and clinical care options.
Ginger was founded in 2011, with a focus on virtual coaching, therapy and psychiatry sessions. The company raised over $220 million in venture capital prior to the merger.
At first, Singh said Ginger focused on using smartphone data to help predict when someone might be experiencing anxiety or depression. But the business model was a tough sell to providers working in a fee-for-service environment who already had long patient waiting lists.
So the team decided to provide clinical behavioral health care instead.
“I think one of the biggest lessons — and, frankly, the kind of mistakes we made — in those early days was that we weren’t tackling the fundamental problem of states,” Singh said. “This problem was still largely about access to care, that people just couldn’t walk through the front door. That’s really what drove me to go from selling to providers to creating a virtual clinic and becoming one.
When the Ginger team pivoted, they decided to focus on coaching and clinical services.
“When I look back on the decision to become a supplier, we often talk about the three Cs: coaching, clinic and content. [We said] pick two out of three,” Singh said. “Let’s focus on a few [areas] which we think we can do very well, and, for us, Ginger had largely built coaching and clinical services.
While Ginger had some level of content creation, Singh noted that the more the team dug, the more they realized that creating quality mental health content required a business in its own right.
Meanwhile, Headspace was ahead of the game with content development. The Headspace team was already nominated for an Emmy Award for its Netflix meditation guide before the merger.
Founded in 2010, Headspace got its start as a direct-to-consumer meditation platform. The company had approximately $215 million in funding before the merger.
“It’s a very different skill set. It’s certainly not something that’s widely held in healthcare — creating a compelling experience, or psychoeducation, that people want to consume,” Singh said. “Most of what is produced is not very good. I think one of the things that’s really helped is having that common mission, that vision, those shared values and really being able to bring the best of what both teams have to offer – and there’s differences.
This new announcement marks the first time Headspace-Ginger tools have been integrated into a single offering.
“Headspace has played a pivotal role in de-stigmatizing mental health for over a decade, making meditation and mindfulness accessible, accessible, effective and affordable,” said Leslie Witt, Head of Product and Design at Headspace Health, in a statement. “Thanks to our unified experience, we now use Headspace as a gateway to a full range of evidence-based mental health services – from a wide range of self-care tools to fueling well-being and healthy habits, to a range of human services, from coaching to psychiatric care, to meet more acute needs.
Headspace Health isn’t the only digital mental health company to offer mediation and clinical services.
Calm, a virtual mediation app, announced a new solution for self-insured payers, providers and employers that offers condition-specific mental health programs, as well as caregiver communication support and follow-up medication.
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