DIGITAL YOUTH

MENTAL HEALTH INITIATIVE


The Digital Youth Mental Health Initiative is dedicated to identifying and advancing investment opportunities in innovative digital solutions that enhance mental health outcomes for youth.

There is more to be done for digital health to deliver on its potential to improve healthcare for all. When examining who and what has historically been funded, there is risk for digital health solutions to perpetuate further systemic inequity. Instead, solutions can and should be uniquely developed for communities that face persistent health inequities—but their developers and builders need support and investment. Specifically, there is an opportunity for digital health technologies that improve the mental health and well-being of adolescents and young adults in the digital era.

Through an immersive field engagement and insight development process, RockHealth.org—together with a group of collaborators including Pivotal Ventures, Fiore Venture, HopeLab, and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation—seeks to explore the opportunity for digital health innovations to support and advance the mental health and well-being of youth and adolescents in the U.S.

We’ve launched this work at a time when great interest and investment have been directed toward understanding how behavioral health impacts individual well-being and influences overall health outcomes. But, despite this wave of attention, interest, and resources, a surprising range of questions plague venture investors, philanthropists, and supporters who anticipate the continued rise of this emerging field, especially as it relates to youth and adolescents.

Early insights not only show the opportunity but where investment may be most valuable:

  • Nearly 4 out of 10 U.S. employees have children who are minors, and 53% of parents have missed work at least once a month to deal with their children’s mental health.
  • 23% of U.S. digital health startups addressing youth mental health offer services to families through employers.1
  • According to a 2024 survey by Hopelab and Common Sense Media more than a quarter (26%) of respondents ages 14-22 reported having ever attended online therapy to support their mental health and well-being.
  • Historically marginalized communities have found support on digital platforms. Those who identify as LGBTQ+ are about twice as likely as their straight/cisgender peers to report ever having ever attended online therapy, according to a 2024 survey by Hopelab and Common Sense Media.
  • According to Rock Health’s 2023 Consumer Adoption of Digital Health Survey, greater percentages of 18-24 year-old Black, Asian, and Latine respondents have used virtual care for mental health compared to white respondents.
  • Public-private partnerships are expanding access: 17% of public schools offered telehealth services in the 2021-22 school year.
  • In 2023 and Q1 2024, U.S. digital health startups addressing youth mental health raised $572M across 23 deals.1 During the same period, four of these companies secured nearly $550M dollars in public-sector, school-based contracts.

Footnotes 

  1. Rock Health Digital Health Venture Funding Database; includes U.S. deals >$2M; data through May 31, 2024

Insights