Q&A: How the acquisition of Headspace Health changes its mental health product

Headspace Health unveiled two acquisitions this year, the latest of which came earlier this month when the digital mental health company announced buy Shine mental health app.

In a crowded field of mental health kick-start, the company is using acquisitions to enhance its products and add new capabilities. Leslie Witt, Headspace product and design director, said the Shine deal is part of a larger effort to provide content that serves the needs of more groups, including people of color, women and LGBTQIA+ community.

Headspace Health also knock Sayana, maker of AI-powered sleep and mental health tracking apps. And Headspace itself is the result of a merger between the meditation app Headspace and the virtual mental health company Ginger, closed almost a year ago.

Witt sat down with MobiHealthNews discusses the company’s acquisition strategy, how its offering may change in the future, and what’s next for the competitive digital mental health sector.

MobiHealthNews: So this isn’t Headspace’s first acquisition this year. How do you choose your conversion goal? Do you think you will continue at the same rate?

Leslie Witt: I think, as I’m sure you’re seeing, the long-rumored merger of the mental health and behavioral health fields is starting to happen. In some ways, the biggest part of our story combined with that was the merger of Ginger and Headspace.

But we see a lot of opportunity through three lenses. Most of the acquisitions we’ve made, both as a combined entity and some of them we’ve done separately, fit through the lens of either our core mission and helping to increase our reach from self-service from a mental health perspective, the possibilities bring new levels of technology – especially around AI, social dialogue and community – and then talent.

All of this is within the framework of small relationships where we do not seek to maintain their offering as a stand-alone product, but instead combine the talent they bring. focus on our core priority areas, to accelerate our capacity building and subsequently to strengthen our content libraries.

MHN: You’ve been at Headspace for about two years, shortly before merging with Ginger. How has the experience changed from a product standpoint?

Witt: I’m going to share with you a bit of why I joined Headspace, basically to answer what we’ve been hearing from our potential members – often members who come and then don’t. find what they need, which is better mental health. service and care. And from our business buyers, they saw this beloved brand, a well-known brand that is attracting 30%, 50% of their employee base signed up and open to interest.

But that front door only leads so far. Basically, I believe in the power of mindfulness and meditation tools, but they can’t serve all mental health needs. And especially when someone is in a state of acute anxiety, acute depression, they need access to professional, humane services.

For Headspace, that led to a direct realization that we had no viable and fast path forward without merging, and Ginger was the perfect partner to incorporate. We’ve been working across the services landscape over the past year to make sure we can truly open the door to care for everyone. That way we can learn who you are, what you need, assess your goals, categorize you by personalized ability to the right type of care, for the right start. And set you on a path where we actually establish aspects of your lifelong mental health journey, helping you build practice habits that give you deeper self-care for later. can be scaled up as needed.

MHN: What are some of your goals for changing your services in the future?

Witt: One is personalization – not only in terms of service, but also in measurement and results – so that we can be continuously in the loop of learning and improvement, where we understand what you need right from the start, serve purposeful service, assess if it really works for you, and do it both on an individual and overall level.

We’re building what I usually call the middle, the bridge that exists between the self-service content in the Headspace app and the text-based coaching, teletherapy, and neuroscience of the Ginger service.

To really focus on clinical content and more programmatic content, we came up with a stress program. It’s a real 30-day program that exposes you to clinical and behavioral science backed up from an introduction to stress reduction into stress reduction habits and practices. We’re doing the same for anxiety and sleep, and see a lot of potential to start incorporating the interaction between coaching and human support into the core product itself.

And then, last but not least, I think we have a lot of opportunities around the community. We see people virtually engaging in cohort-based ways around certain content areas. [For example,] we see people coming to Headspace in their moments of struggle with infertility, and see a lot of potential and want to start community bonding and peer-based support.

MHN: There are so many digital mental health companies out there right now, and as you mentioned earlier, we may be in the early stages of a wave of consolidation. How do you think the overall space will change this year?

Witt: Some of the ways that I see the game changing is that we are returning, in very good ways, to some of our pre-COVID norms. And with that, I think there’s a lot of pressure on [figuring out] what is the persistence, relevance of telehealth.

What we often see is that, of all telemedicine services, the most appealing in a digitally delivered format are actually behavioral health.

We are beginning to focus on addressing some of the adolescent mental health crises. I think that’s still unresolved right now. And as a mother of 11-year-old twins who sees what’s happening in that landscape, more people are needed in this space. And we need to honor those who have been there and ensure that their capabilities and access continue to be extended to all.

We are also seeing where businesses play an overwhelming role in getting employees to access mental health services. There is increasing demand and buying from the public sector. We have a relationship with LA County, and we see a lot of potential to work with governments, educational institutions and, more broadly, with health systems to ensure that health and wellness goals are met. health equality and health equity.

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