What’s in the space for mental health?



The World Economic Forum recently released its annual report highlighting the emerging technologies shaping the current world.  The report looks at technology that is impacting 5 different areas: people, the planet, prosperity, industry and equity.

I occasionally read reports from the WEF, and this was a particularly interesting one to read because a lot of the technologies mentioned in the report are ones that Polestar has touched on with previous clients, either within healthcare or ESG. Whilst the report goes through technology in quite some detail, one sector caught my eye that Polestar has just recently engaged with: mental health.

The mental health market has been getting quite some traction after the pandemic, so it is no surprise an emerging technology covers this space. In fact, according to Global Newswire, the digital mental health market size will be worth USD 69.44 Billion by 2030, growing at a 20% CAGR.

This growth, according to the report, was driven by “the mental health crisis that existed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and has since increased to unprecedented levels, making conditions ripe for metaverse-enabled mental health treatment. The number of mental health providers is insufficient to meet the escalating crisis.”

One solution presented for this is the metaverse. The report defines the “metaverse for mental health” as “shared virtual spaces to improve mental health” and says the future of virtual shared spaces enhanced include augmented or virtual reality.

Gaming platforms already exist for this. These platforms increase patient engagement and destigmatise mental health issues, and are sure to be popular with the younger crowd. The report cited a few examples, which are:

  • DeepWell Therapeutics which has created video games to treat depression and anxiety
  • UK-based Xbox studio Ninja Theory which has incorporated mental health awareness into mass-market games and plans to expand into treatment with their Insight Project
  • TRIPP which has created Mindful Metaverse, which enhances well-being through VR-enabled guided mindfulness and meditation.

Polestar has recent experience in the mental health and wellbeing space, completing a transaction this year. We advised on the sale of the business and assets of Companion Apps Ltd through an asset purchase agreement to Terryberry Company, LLC, a US-headquartered employee engagement business. Read our press release here.

The Companion product provides mental wellbeing support to enterprises and their employees. The offering includes expert-led online workshops and training programmes that tailor app content for each user to help improve and sustain the mental wellbeing of employees. This transaction allowed Companion to scale as a business and allowed Terryberry to expand its tech stack.

Polestar’s experience across the ESG space and – more specifically – within employee reward and recognition, meant it was aware of international buyers looking for a mental wellbeing solution to complement their existing tech stacks, which helped accelerate the sale. Polestar previously advised on the sale of People Value, the employee recognition and reward business, to its management team in a transaction backed by Ethos Partners. Read our press release here.

The reward and recognition market helps enterprises provide health & wellbeing for their employees, in the form of shopping benefits, salary sacrifice, gym offering, mindfulness online courses, etc. As the mental health crises grows globally, we can expect that a lot of employees will be expecting their employers to implement solutions that help them manage their stress and anxiety.  This is the opportunity for apps (like Companion), employee engagement providers (like PeopleValue), and the metaverse to provide solutions to a growing problem.

The mental health and reward and recognition space is an area that Polestar knows very well. ESG is now a key focus of ours because we see this as the way of the future; the rise in the ESG market shows us that the private sector is heading in the right direction.

With the rapid rise in demand for this space, this could be a good time to explore your options for raising funding or securing a valuable exit. If you want to get in touch about anything ESG/mental health/wellbeing related, don’t hesitate to do so. Like always, if you have any interest, do reach out.


By Anusheh Khan on 09/08/2023