Just as many other employee services have gone digital, so too is mental health. In the consumer space there are growing startups like Equoo, but the race is now on for the employee.
And since telemedicine has gone digital and video-based, so too is mental health provision. A number of companies are already playing in this space, including Spill Chat, On Mind, Lyra Health, Modern Health, Ginger and TalkSpace for Business.
Oliva’s take on this is not to create a marketplace or prerecorded videos, but to put trained professionals in front of employees to talk directly to them. And there is even science to back it up. Indeed, some research suggests psychotherapy via the internet is as good if not better than face-to-face consultations.
Oliva’s on-demand, professional-led mental healthcare for employees and managers has now attracted investment to the tune of a $2.2 million pre-seed investment round, led by Moonfire Ventures, the new seed-stage VC firm from Atomico co-founder Mattias Ljungman.
The U.K. and Spain-based startup has also attracted angel investment from tech executives from Amazon, Booking.com, DogBuddy, Typeform, Hotjar, TravelPerk and more.
Oliva is founded by Javier Suarez, who previously co-founded TravelPerk, and Sançar Sahin, who previously led marketing teams at Hotjar and Typeform, so both are well blooded in startups.
Suarez says he was inspired to create a mental health startup after the rigors of TravelPerk: “Employees are a company's greatest asset -- the better they feel, the better your company performs. But organizations are not set up to support their employees’ mental health in and outside of the workplace, which creates a massive problem for teammates, managers and the organization as a whole. We’ve launched Oliva to give employees access to comprehensive online mental healthcare and to help organizations overcome the related challenges -- from attracting and retaining talent and training managers to supporting remote workers.”
Privacy is addressed via the use of a secure and encrypted personal portal, where employees can chat with a care provider who matches them with a professional. They get 1-to-1 video therapy sessions from a range of mental health professionals, and can also track their progress.
The team has also attracted Dr. Sarah Bateup, who has spent more than two decades teaching and training mental healthcare professionals and is now chief clinical officer.
She said: “Oliva improves the way mental healthcare is accessed, supported and paid for, while also adding more ongoing oversight and accountability to the process. Our ambition is for Oliva to be viewed as a badge of quality and set a new standard for workplace mental healthcare.”
Mattias Ljungman, founder at Moonfire Ventures, added: “Mental health has been an overlooked area of care and well-being, especially in the workplace. Oliva's founders are the only team we’ve seen taking a holistic, impact-driven approach to supporting mental health. While employer-funded mental health is becoming a well-established model in the U.S., Oliva is the first to bring a truly comprehensive approach to U.K. and European businesses.”
The Oliva platform is integrated with Slack, providing employees with mental health drop-in sessions, therapy courses and dedicated training and support for managers.