A Year After Their $3B Mega Merger, Headspace and Ginger Are Rolling Out a New ‘Unified’ Behavioral Health Offering
Headspace Health is rolling out a unified enterprise mental health and well-being offering to members. The rollout comes roughly a year after the digital mental health companies Headspace and Ginger completed their $3 billion merger.
With the new initiative, users will be able to tap into Ginger’s on-demand coaching, therapy and psychiatric services. The offering will also provide users with Headspace’s meditation and mindfulness offerings.
“The Headspace Health unified experience is all about making it easier to engage with mental health and wellness services and to be kind to your mind, regardless of where you are on your mental health journey,” Headspace CEO Russell Glass said in a statement.
As far as big-picture strategic significance, the rollout reflects how Headspace and Ginger are increasingly blending their operational strengths to expand the company’s reach and impact. That has been a major goal for the pair since their blockbuster deal crossed the finish line in October 2021.
Karan Singh, COO of Headspace Health and co-founder of Ginger, discussed that very topic during a MATTER conversation last week.
“It’s been hard and fun to bring these teams and these experiences together,” Singh said. “Coming out of this, [we’ve] built an incredibly affordable, accessible and really comprehensive mental health and well-being solution that spans everything from mindfulness and meditation, all the way to coaching, therapy, psychiatry services and medication management for our members.”
As part of the new rollout, employees using the unified enterprise platform will be able to access a personalized mental health plan and care navigation tool. Meanwhile, employers will gain insights about employee engagement and outcomes.
The Headspace Health news comes as rates of depression and anxiety have skyrocketed in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The World Health Organization reports that the pandemic triggered a 25% increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide. This has spurred an influx of digital mental health tools and investment looking to address the crisis.
Still, the bulk of the tools exclusively target low-acuity cases.
The seeds of a unified platform
Since Headspace and Ginger announced their merger, the executive team has been focused on providing its enterprise partners and their employees with self care and clinical care options.
Ginger was founded in 2011, with a focus on virtual coaching, therapy and psychiatry sessions. The company raised more than $220 million in venture funding prior to the merger.
Early on, Singh said Ginger was focused on using smartphone data to help predict when someone might have anxiety or depression. But the business model was a tough sell to providers working in a fee-for-service environment who already had long waitlists of patients.
So the team set its sight on providing clinical behavioral health care instead.
“I think one of the biggest lessons – and, frankly, kind of mistakes that we made – in those early days was we weren’t tackling the fundamental problem in the states,” Singh said. “That problem was largely still around access to care, that people just couldn’t get through the front door. That’s really what prompted my evolution from selling to providers to then standing up a virtual clinic and becoming one.”
When the Ginger team was pivoting, it decided to narrow its focus on coaching and clinical services.
“When I rewind back to the decision of becoming a provider, we often talked about the three C’s: coaching, clinical and content. [We said] pick two out of three,” Singh said. “Let’s focus on a few [areas] that we think we can do really well, and, for us, Ginger had largely been building coaching and clinical services.”
While Ginger had some level of content creation, Singh noted the more the team dug, the more it realized that building quality mental health content required a company unto itself.
Meanwhile, Headspace was ahead of the game with content development. The Headspace team was already nominated for an Emmy Award for its Netflix meditation guide before the merger.
Founded in 2010, Headspace got its start as a direct-to-consumer Meditation platform. The company had roughly $215 million in funding prior to the merger.
“It’s a very different skill set. It’s certainly not something that’s widely seen in health care – creating a compelling experience, or psychoeducation, that people want to consume,” Singh said. “Most of what’s produced is not very good. I think one of the things that’s really helped is having that shared mission, vision, values, and really being able to bring the best of what both teams have to offer – and there’s differences.”
The new announcement marks the first time the Headspace-Ginger tools are integrated into one offering.
“Headspace has played a pivotal role in destigmatizing mental health for over a decade, making meditation and mindfulness accessible, approachable, effective and affordable,” Leslie Witt, chief product and design officer of Headspace Health, said in a statement. “With our unified experience, we’re now leveraging Headspace as the front door to a full suite of evidence-based mental health services – from a broad array of self-care tools to fuel wellbeing and healthy habits, to a range of human services, from coaching through psychiatric care, to address more acute needs.”
Headspace Health isn’t the only digital mental health company offering mediation and clinical services.
Calm, a virtual mediation app, announced a new solution for payers, providers and self-insured employers that offers condition-specific mental health programs, as well as caregiver communication support and medication tracking.