Digital mental health startup Silvercloud Health Inc. has scooped up $16 million in a series B round led by Memorialcare Innovation Fund. The Boston-based company plans to use the funds to grow program offerings in North America, enhance its global portfolio and conduct new research and clinical trials.

LRV Ventures, OSF Ventures and Unitypoint Health Ventures also participated in the round, along with existing investors Act Venture Capital and B Capital Group. With this latest round, Silvercloud has raised a total of $30 million.

“There is a tremendous unmet need for mental health solutions in today’s world,” said Caleb Winder, managing director of Memorialcare Innovation Fund. “Based on results from more than 30 peer-reviewed studies, Silvercloud Health has a clear advantage in delivering positive clinical outcomes and a remarkable track record of success and unprecedented levels of engagement. With strong global connections to multiple providers already in place, our investment will enable Silvercloud to reach and help even more patients across the U.S. and beyond.”

Digital behavioral health has experienced strong growth as mental health providers and communities strive to reduce alarming rates of depression and suicide. During the first nine months of 2019, 16 digital behavioral health companies raised a total of $416 million, with an average deal size of $26 million, according to Rock Health.

Pandemic fueling demand

With the current pandemic and social distancing, convenient, effective, non-face-to-face options for mental health therapy can play a crucial role in helping people through the crisis.

“We are seeing the growth of evidence-based telemental health/mental health care at a pace never seen before due to COVID-19,” Ken Cahill, Silvercloud’s co-founder and CEO, told BioWorld. “Demand is unprecedented due to the needs in the U.S. and globally as we open our solutions to even more people, including 33 million in Canada, more than 100 million in the U.S., and millions more globally.”

In response to the crisis, Silvercloud is providing its clients, free of charge, expanded access to its platform. The move has led to an uptick in activity as modules are being shared with more health care professionals, their families and patients.

The company is also developing a COVID-19 module that includes programs specifically designed for the pandemic, including components on dealing with a challenging time, sleep issues and grief and loss, Cahill said.

Research-backed programs

The evidence-based platform is backed by more than 17 years of clinical research and partnerships with leading academic institutions, including over 30 peer-reviewed publications demonstrating its efficacy, outcomes and suitability across different population groups. The platform treats a range of mental health concerns, including depression, anxiety, stress and behavioral issues, using methods that “go beyond mindfulness and more directly mirror actual clinical treatment,” Cahill said.

Treatment programs typically last eight to 10 weeks, and patient have the option of interacting with an asynchronous behavioral health coach.

Silvercloud’s mental health programs are used by more than 300 organizations around the world, and account for over 70% of mental health services provided by the U.K.’s National Health Service. Since launching in 2012, the platform has logged more than 350,000 users and is adding in excess of 15,000 per month. That growth “will accelerate even faster with the adoption of evidence-based digital mental health and the realization that it is no longer the last resort but a complement and in many cases equivalent to current mental health care treatment, due to our proven outcomes,” Cahill said.

Last fall, Silvercloud announced a research collaboration with Microsoft Research in Cambridge, U.K., to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to improve understanding and delivery of personalized mental health treatment, including early interventions to optimize clinical outcomes. And in December, pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts Holding Corp. added the platform to its digital health formulary.

Other digital solutions

More companies are turning to digital technologies to help people with mental health problems. In December, Pear Therapeutics Inc. reported the first patient dosing in part two of a study assessing Pear-006 – a digital therapeutic that Pear is developing in collaboration with Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis AG – to address depression associated with multiple sclerosis. The Boston-based company is also evaluating a digital therapeutic, Pear-003A, that delivers CBT-I to treat chronic insomnia.

And researchers at the University of Toronto at Scarborough reported that an online version of Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), a pioneering therapy designed to reduce the lingering effects of depression, can offer further benefits for patients receiving care. The digital version, called Mindful Mood Balance, combines mindfulness meditation with cognitive therapy tools to teach patients how to regulate their emotions and prevent relapse.