“It seems that anxiety is in vogue,” a friend of mine told me as we discussed how common it is to hear that more and more people close to us are suffering from it. It is not just a perception among our friends. Worldwide, anxiety and depression increased 25% during the first year of the pandemic, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

In 2017, more than 22% of the Latin American population suffered from some mental disorder, according to the World Bank. This is the latest data recorded, so, considering the WHO estimate, this percentage is surely higher today.

The figures are not encouraging at all. The Panamerican Health Organization (PAHO) highlighted that barely 2.8% of the budget allocated to health in the region goes to mental health. Of this amount, 60% goes to psychiatric hospitals.

Adding that not all of the population has access to health services or simply live too far from a public facility to receive regular care, what is left for the rest of us who live in a state of productive anxiety?

Several startups in the region have taken note and are looking to solve the enormous mental health problem that has been accumulating in recent years and that, if left unattended, could lead to a major epidemic of mental and physical ailments.

Mental Health Startups to Keep an Eye on

We put together a list of some of these companies that have stood out in Latin America. They appear here not only because of their recent elevations, but also because of their specific offers and their focus on digital users that is increasingly centred around emotions.

  1. YANA: which stands for “you are not alone” was created in Mexico in 2019 by Andrea Campos. The platform has cognitive-behavioral therapy tools for users to manage their emotions. It also integrates a space to find mental health professionals. The app was named as one of the best of 2020 by Apple and Google. So far, it has US$315,000 in funding. It is backed by 500 Startups, Innogen Capital, Magma Partners, MassChallenge, and Hustle Fund, to name a few.
  2. Terapify: was also born in 2019 and is based in Mexico. Eduardo Velez and Juan Daniel Velez created this startup to offer online therapy services. Since then, it has had three seed rounds, of which the amount is unknown. The entrepreneurs have participated in 500 Startups and Y Combinator.
  3. Pura Mente: is a startup from Argentina founded by three friends. One of them is its current CEO, Martín Becerra. So far, their investments and funding are unknown. However, the company is backed by the VC fund Newtopia, to which Marcos Galperin of Mercado Libre and Manu Ginóbili, a well-known former basketball player, belong.
  4. Momentu: is a Colombian startup was born in 2020, thanks to its founders Juan Pablo Montoya and Noam Grebler Farras. It offers B2B services for companies to adopt its platform for the mental health of their employees. It has US$400,000 in funding and its investors are unknown.
  5. Vittude: is another app focused on the mental health of company employees. It hit the market in 2016 in Brazil, and was created by Everton Höpner and Tatiana Pimenta. It is currently one of the startups with the highest capital concentration, with US$8.4 million. Some of its funders include Crescera Capital, Redpoint Eventures and SuperJobs.
  6. Vitalk: was founded in Brazil by Michael Kapps to offer emotional and mental health tools for employees of various corporations. It has US$24 million in funding, and is backed by Goodwater Capital, Valor Capital, Vox Capital and Greenrock Capital.
  7. Yerbo: was born in Argentina in 2019 with Marcos Sponton at the helm. Its purpose is to democratize mental health in the workplace, for which it built solutions to improve and prevent burnout. It has US$455,000 in funds and counts on the VC fund as its main investor.
  8. Cuéntame: is native to Mexico and was founded by Regina Espinoza Athié. The startup is dedicated to developing digital tools for the emotional wellbeing of employees. So far it has US$6,300 in funding and the backing of MassChallenge and SAP.Io.

This market should not be overlooked, as it is already attracting the attention of important investors in the region.

For example, last year 500 Startups launched the US$17 million Luchadores III fund, which is focused on Spanish-speaking Latin American countries and mostly goes towards mental health startups.

You may also be interested in: Some Startups Co-founded by Women Who Have Raised Capital in LatAm