The rising rate of youth suicide is an alarming public health problem. Children’s Hospital Colorado recently announced a state of emergency because youth suicide is the leading cause of death in the state for kids over the age of 10. According to a statement prepared by the hospital, “The reality is that health challenges facing kids have gone beyond crisis levels, and the organizations that serve kids are overwhelmed. Many children, families, local schools, county governments and healthcare facilities are at their breaking points.”
Mental health issues– most notably depression and anxiety – were already on the rise pre-pandemic. The pandemic certainly exacerbated those issues. Telosity by Vinaj Ventures is a proud investor of Manatee, and invests in startups harnessing technology to improve mental health issues and well-being in young people. Telosity portfolio companies touched over 2 million young people's lives in 2020.
Manatee is a virtual mental health clinic that provides therapy and digital programs for kids and their families. Specifically, we’re hoping to help stem the rising tide of youth suicide by providing parents and children with tools to help build resilience and strengthen family relationships.
One of the frightening truths is that we often don’t know when someone is contemplating suicide: over 50% of people who commit suicide have no previous diagnosis. Our programs are designed to spot the kids who are at risk. During the pandemic, with so many kids “attending” school virtually or remotely, it’s been harder than ever to identify those children who are struggling.
Besides our on-demand therapy, the first program we launched is a digital six-week course for kids to combat anxiety. The course gives families access to evidence-based tools, activities and lessons designed for daily life. The course, called “The No BS Guide to Anxiety,” is available nationwide by downloading our app.
In May we announced our first therapeutic launch, Building Brave Kids, a 12-week virtual therapy program focused on reducing anxiety and building resilience for kids 8-15 years and their families. The program is currently available in California, but we are planning to expand it throughout the country.
We continually look at how our app and programs can be expanded or improved to have a positive impact in the lives of children.
Our newest feature is designed to help with the inevitable ups and downs in a kid’s life. What do you do when there is an indication that a child is not feeling great – if a child’s journal entry shows anger or sadness or the child writes, “I don’t want to go to school anymore.”
As part of our app we built a self-care tab that is interactive and very user-friendly. It prompts kids who are struggling to think about what they can do to help them feel better right away, instead of only giving them a number for a hotline. We provide clinically based coping tools for kids so when they feel stuck, they can go through the app and it inspires them with something they could do right in the moment.
For example, we might suggest the “connection” tool. The child can click on it and swipe through options, such as to Facetime his or her best friends. Or maybe the child wants to “let it all out” and dance to their favorite playlist or scream in a pillow.
In addition to supporting kids, a large part of our focus is on the parent. We know that if the parents feel supported, confident and have the right toolbox, their kids will be okay. If the parent has anxiety, the kid will likely be stressed out, too. That’s why this has to be a family effort.
We want to make sure that when parents and children complete one of our programs, they feel significantly better. We want kids to be able to conquer whatever life throws at them. We want parents to know if their child is really struggling. And ultimately, we want families to be able to build deeper, more meaningful relationships and connections with each other, develop new skills and acquire new tools so that they can all feel brave and able to cope.
We hope that parents -- and therapists -- take the opportunity to check out our programs to help promote the well-being of the children in their lives.
Telosity is a Vinaj fund focused on investing in Pre-seed and Seed-stage companies improving mental wellbeing for 10 to 24 years old. Learn more at Telosity.co.