The pressing need for increased behavioral health services for children is one of the lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Handspring, a Newark-based behavioral health center that specializes in virtual treatment for children ages 10-18, is working to help solve that problem. And it’s getting some help to do so.
Monday morning, Handspring co-founder and CEO Sahil Choudhry announced the company has closed a $6.2 million seed round that will allow the company to expand its services and open in-person locations.
With the investment, Choudhry said he feels Handspring is positioned to rebuild the pediatric mental health system from the ground up, with a focus on affordable and high-quality mental health care for families.
The rebuild, he said, can’t come soon enough.
“We are living through a pandemic of mental and behavioral health disorders among children and adolescents,” he said. “Today, 1 in 5 children in the U.S. have a diagnosable mental health disorder.”
These are disorders, Choudhry said, that too often are going untreated among teens and preteens.
“The health care system is failing our children, as systemic barriers have made it impossible for families to find care that’s accessible,” he said. “When looking for care, families often face unaffordable rates that are not covered by insurance, or waitlists that are several months long.
“Moreover, most new solutions in the market today are virtual-only; not all children can be treated virtually, and many need more hands-on and in-person attention.”
The financing round was co-led by Newark Venture Partners and NextView Ventures, with participation from 25madison Ventures, Arkitekt Ventures and Quantum Angels, along with other prominent health care operators.
Joanne Lin, principal at Newark Venture Partners, said NVP is confident Handspring has found a solution.
“Handspring not only increases accessibility, availability and affordability for families and children seeking mental health care — but what makes it truly different is that it stands to improve outcomes for its patients,” she said. “Its hybrid approach and ability to utilize patient and provider data position it to be among the next wave of breakthrough mental health companies.”
Rob Go, a partner at NextView Ventures, agreed.
“Handspring is redesigning how families and caregivers access quality mental health support for children,” he said. “The company’s vertically integrated approach that’s both online and in-person allows it to serve families and children of all ages and acuity.
“Handspring is led by a mission-driven and passionate team with deep clinical, operational and product experience. Nextview is excited to partner with them.”
Handspring was founded in 2021 by Choudhry and Kwasi Kyei, both of whom were previously digital health investors.
Where it will go with the increased funding — including where any in-person clinics will be located — remains to be determined. Currently, most of the company is working remotely.
Handspring officials said the funding will allow the company to accelerate clinician hiring, open modern clinics in New Jersey, invest in technology and patient experience, launch payor partnerships and expand into new markets.