Covid-19 precipitated the scale and growth of mental health technology startups in Asia, as healthpreneurs rushed to innovate solutions and mitigate the devastating effects brought on by the global pandemic. 

When the ongoing pandemic took a toll on the global business landscape, Asian startups faced a greater challenge, being imposed with stricter restrictions than in most other continents. A greater Asian population endured high levels of stress and anxiety, and prolonged isolation, elevating the need for better mental healthcare services.

Witnessing the severe impact on people’s overall wellbeing, many young entrepreneurs rose to change the narrative on mental health, leveraging technology to innovate new solutions and provide easy and remote access to such services, attempting to meet post-covid consumer demands.

Due to the lockdown and the social restrictions in place, many patients were left stranded, and required remote healthcare solutions. Emerging entrepreneurs and startups pivoted alongside changing consumer demand, driving the growth of the telehealth market in Asia.

Asia Pacific’s digital health market valuation amounted up to US$40.3 billion in 2021 and was reported to inflate at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26.5% from 2022 to 2030. The proliferating market rate offers better insight into a growing consumer base for remote treatment and diagnoses, which has further prompted investments and capital funding into the digitalisation of healthcare establishments in the region.

Among those names is Singapore’s Intellect, who secured US$20 million in its Series A funding round this July, as it aims to destigmatise the space and scale its solution to enable mental health access for a greater population in Asia.

Theodoric Chew, the co-founder of Intellect, expressed the need for such a digital healthcare model, “The traditional form of therapy is in-person and one-on-one, and it is hard to scale. When technology comes in, we can scale access to mental care to everyone.”

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Providing workplace mental health offerings for companies across Asia, is yet another HealthTech startup, Ami. It aims to deliver an easily adaptable, accessible and affordable mental health model, with an expert team of professionals and coaches.

Hong Kong-based clinical psychologist and humanitarian working together with the mental health initiative Mind HK, added, “In Asian contexts, many cultures tend to uphold values such as honour, pride, and a concept of face. Mental illness is usually viewed and judged as a sign of weakness and a source of shame for the family.”

These emerging mental health startups are advocating to break free of the social stigma in Asia and effectively remodel the healthcare system and access for everyone in the region.


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