New Investment: Mental Health Support for Low-Income Youth of Color - Acumen

New Investment: Mental Health Support for Low-Income Youth of Color

August 11, 2020

Acumen has invested in MindRight Health, a health tech company increasing access to inclusive mental health support for low-income youth of color with its text-message-based coaching service.

THE CHALLENGE

In the United States, low-income youth experience frightening or threatening situations—from financial hardship to physical violence—with alarming regularity, especially in communities of color. As a result, many low-income youth of color experience high levels of stress that can negatively affect their cognitive capacity, and emotional and physical health. Yet low-income communities often have less access to emotional support services to help them manage this stress than higher-income populations.

The majority of accessible support services for low-income youth focus on one-time crisis response rather than holistic, preventative approaches such as routine mental health care. This crisis response approach is not only ineffective for tackling underlying challenges, but also inefficient for Medicaid plans which spend, on average, four times more on youth members with behavioral health diagnoses.

THE INNOVATION

MindRight offers daily mental health coaching over text message for low-income youth and young adults of color. 

MindRight’s health plan partners pay a monthly fee for each covered member active on the platform. Young people covered by MindRight’s health plan partners sign up free of charge by sending a text to MindRight’s number. Users are then assigned to a team of coaches that proactively checks in every day by text message to listen without judgment, offer support, and help users build skills to manage their emotions and stress. By connecting every day, MindRight’s coaches both support users through their challenges and celebrate their wins. As needed, MindRight is also able to connect its users to additional clinical interventions and resources. 

WHY ACUMEN INVESTED

Acumen America is committed to backing entrepreneurs tackling the rampant disparities in our health system and reimagining access to quality care for low-income communities and communities of color. MindRight’s model is poised to improve health outcomes for youth by addressing a deep and damaging gap in care. It is also poised for scale: by using text messaging, MindRight has the potential to radically increase young people’s access to culturally-responsive support.

“The U.S. healthcare system is finally beginning to understand the importance of investing in  preventative care to both control costs and improve outcomes. Acumen America is excited to support entrepreneurs accelerating that systemic shift by driving better care and access for low-income communities. MindRight’s platform provides essential support to youth who too often lack trusted resources to turn to as they navigate the multi-faceted challenges of adolescence in low-income communities of color. We’re inspired by Founder and CEO Ashley Edwards’s vision to expand access to support for youth in these communities to improve their health and overall life outcomes,” says Acumen America Associate Director Eliza Golden Roady. 

“Acumen America is the ideal partner for our work. Their track record of investing in innovations at the heart of equity and social justice is directly aligned with our vision of creating systems of healing for communities of color. We are proud to join their community of social entrepreneurs and look forward to the impact that we can create together,” says MindRight Health Founder and CEO Ashley Edwards.

For more on Acumen’s guiding investment philosophy, see our eight Investment Principles.

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