Jan 14, 2021 - Health

New mental health online service set to launch

Image of Pace screenshot

Screenshot of Pace mental health app. Credit: Pace

A team of Silicon Valley veterans is launching a new service that will address mental health issues through online group sessions.

Why it matters: The pandemic has led to a worsening of mental health, as traditional in-person therapy has been largely curtailed. New services like Pace that aim to address mental health issues remotely could help close that gap.

How it works: Pace will provide a form of group therapy that can be done over the web or on a smartphone, with users selecting communities that fit their own mental health needs.

  • Some of the first areas include relationship problems, career issues and parenting, as well as a separate section for founders struggling with stress.
  • Groups are led by mental health facilitators and cost $45 per week, with users signing on for a season of therapy at a time.

Background: Jack Chou, Pace's CEO and co-founder, told Axios in the company's first interview that he helped come up with the idea for the startup while taking a break from an intense tech career that included stints as head of product at Affirm and Pinterest.

  • "It was really the first time in my life that I felt like I was struggling, trying to figure something out," says Chou. "And there was really nothing for people like me."
  • Chou and his co-founders took inspiration from group fitness classes like SoulCycle, betting that "forms of group therapy could really be developed and brought to bear through technology to people wherever they were."

The big picture: Though the team began working on Pace before the pandemic hit and essentially closed most in-person mental health services, it is launching during a boom for teletherapy.

  • The online provider Talkspace agreed today to a $1.4 billion merger with the blank-check firm Hudson Executive Investment.

The bottom line: According to a Gallup poll from December, Americans' mental health is the worst it has been in two decades.

  • We need help, and we need it now.
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