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Exclusive: Hybrid mental health platform Lightfully lands $50M

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Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Hybrid mental health provider Lightfully Behavioral Health secured $50 million in equity from Regal Healthcare Capital Partners, CEO Jennifer Steiner tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: 5.5% of U.S. adults experienced serious mental illness in 2021.

How it works: The Thousand Oaks, California-based company offers residential programs, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient programs and virtual services.

  • Founded in 2021, Lightfully has 14 clinics — mostly based in California, with locations selected by demand, Steiner says. Its providers treat conditions like depression, anxiety, OCD, personality disorders, trauma and PTSD.
  • Some patients are referred directly by therapists, while others come from inpatient hospital settings, and all are given full clinical assessments to decide the level of acuity.
  • The company also provides a teen program treating clients ages 12–17, as well as a virtual outpatient program for college students.

The big picture: "We are in the middle of the acuity sandwich," Steiner says. "Inpatient is at the very top and there is clearly a whole world in the middle, where the need is greatest."

What's next: Lightfully plans to open three more clinics this year in California, which has favorable treatment parity laws and a more centralized mental health infrastructure, according to Steiner.

  • "The plan is to move into additional states end of 2024, beginning of 2025," Steiner says, noting Lightfully hopes to expand in the Western U.S.

Flashback: Before founding Lightfully, Steiner was CEO of eating disorder treatment company Alsana.

  • Steiner also led InnerChange, a provider of long-term residential and outpatient programs for adolescents previously backed by Cressey.
  • The all-female executive team at Lightfully brings over 70 years of experience in the mental health space.

Catch up quick: The company received $30 million of development capital from Regal in 2021.

  • "We love the founder and her experience, as well as expertise in the space, but we also loved the virtual care add-on," says Regal general partner David Kim.

State of play: Americans see poor mental health as one of the biggest threats to public health — and while behavioral health remains underfunded, private equity continues to take interest in the space.

  • Turnbridge, a New Haven, Connecticut-based residential and outpatient behavioral health provider for adolescents with substance use disorder backed by North Castle Partners and Stonehenge Capital, is exploring a sale.
  • Being Health, a New York-based psychiatrist-founded mental health practice, raised $5.4 million in seed funding.
  • Flourish Labs, a San Francisco-based telehealth and training peer support platform for mental health, raised $6.6 million in seed funding.
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