“We are all winners here”: Meadows Institute brings behavioral health innovation showcase to Houston – MMHPI – Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute
topics Announcements “We are all winners here”: Meadows Institute brings behavioral health innovation showcase to Houston

“We are all winners here”: Meadows Institute brings behavioral health innovation showcase to Houston

When the six winners of the Telosity Mental Health Innovation Challenge, a national behavioral innovation challenge that drew more than 200 contestants from across the country, took to the stage this week at TMC Innovation in Houston to showcase their applications for combatting the nation’s youth mental health crisis, none of them had any trouble defining the problem.

Several of the winners cited the same sobering statistics: 60% of high schoolers feel persistent sadness, five million teens suffer from depression each year and 25% of them had considered suicide because of the pandemic. Mental health-related emergency room visits for teens are up 31%.

Kacie Kelly Speaking

But in her keynote speech, Meadows Institute Chief Innovation Officer Kacie Kelly sounded an optimistic note.

“I have never been more hopeful about mental health than I am these days. Now, more than ever, we have data-driven solutions that work for many, and we also have more people and organizations who want to be part of the solution than ever before,” Kelly said.

The Meadows Institute partnered with Telosity Ventures, a venture capital firm that invests in early stage startups focused on digital wellness and mental health, to launch the innovation challenge designed to spotlight startups and entrepreneurs who are finding new, innovative solutions to address the country’s ongoing youth mental health crisis. Specific categories included pediatric medical devices, suicide prevention and platforms or marketplaces for mental health and wellness solutions.

“We are excited to support this challenge and help bring more innovative solutions to Texas, so that more Texas youth have access to cutting edge, high quality behavioral health solutions,” Kelly said.

“At the Meadows Institute, our vision is to create an ecosystem of behavioral health innovation in Texas that can be scaled.” – Kacie Kelly, Chief Innovation Officer

Meadows Institute Networking

Kelly listed three reasons that the Meadows Institute believes Texas is poised to become a “global leader” in youth behavioral health: First, because the state has invested billions over the last decade to improve mental health access and care, and to implement innovative programs. Second, because the state has the right business and investment environment to foster innovation. And third, because its size and diversity – geographic, demographic, and economic – provides an “ideal incubator” for tech companies to develop and scale new products and services.

“What I love about this challenge is the diverse set of solutions, from digital therapeutics to metabolic health,” said Anish Srivastava, managing partner at Telosity Ventures. “We believe that mental health is multifaceted and interrelated to nutrition, activity level, sleep, and overall wellness. One affects the other.” When it comes to treating mild to moderate mental health conditions, he stressed, there is not a single solution.

Srivastava said that his firm was eager to bring the winners of the challenge to Texas because, like the Meadows Institute, “we are big believers in the mental health ecosystem. The way to succeed is not to go at it alone.” He added that he hoped that the Houston showcase would help the winners branch out from their local ecosystems and make valuable connections in Texas. “They are looking for markets, and if there’s a match, that’s a win-win for both parties.”

Mel Quigley, head of strategy and operations at Project Healthy Minds, a winner in the nonprofit category, agreed.

“We are based in New York City and we don’t have a grassroots understanding of Texas. This event affords us that knowledge. As we grow, we want someone living in rural Texas to know what resources are available to them,” said Quigley.

Since Project Healthy Minds was founded in 2017, she said, 225,000 unique users have utilized their app, which she likened to “Kayak for mental health.”

“It is morally egregious that, in 2023, one can more easily book a hotel room or restaurant reservation than find mental health supports,” Quigley said.

But there is strength in numbers, she added, noting how many of the contest winners were dedicated to using technology to bridge the access gap for mental health care, especially for underserved teens.

While this contest could easily have devolved into a competitive atmosphere, the spirit was one of “warm and supportive community” among the entrepreneurs, Quigley said. “We have promised to attend each other’s events. We are all winners. A lot of partnerships will come out this.”