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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The positive social media response to Simone Biles withdrawing from Olympic competition highlights how the artificial line between health care and mental health care is finally beginning to dissolve. And startup investors have taken notice.

By the numbers: Venture capital investments in mental health startups rose 72.6% between Q1 2020 and Q1 2021, per CB Insights.

  • GIMBHI reports that mental and behavioral health deals more than doubled between 2019 and 2020, and in Q1 2021, it accounted for 19% of all digital health funding.

Driver No. 1: Soaring customer demand, much of which has been driven by the pandemic, without adequate provider supply (particularly in non-urban areas). Not just among adults, but also for kids and teens.

  • Google searches for both therapists and psychiatrists soared over the past 18 months, while most any corporate HR rep can tell you that employee burnout has become one of their most pressing issues.

Driver No. 2: Greater acceptance of telehealth, partially enabled by improved video chat technologies. This is true of patients, providers and insurers — helping encourage some "tech" entrepreneurs and investors to enter the space.

Driver No. 3: Last year's Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act makes it harder for insurance companies to deny care.

Driver No. 4: Valuation momentum for early VC-backed companies like Lyra Health (now worth $4.6 billion). Nothing attracts venture capitalists like when other venture capitalists pay high prices.

The bottom line: COVID-19 exposed many of America's health system gaps, and we're seeing money rush in to fill them.

Go deeper

Dr. Ala Stanford Center for Health Equity opens in North Philly

Ala Stanford stands inside the hallway of her new health center in North Philadelphia. Photo: Mike D'Onofrio/Axios

A new health center has opened its doors in North Philly.

Why it matters: The Dr. Ala Stanford Center for Health Equity is located in a low-income ZIP code that has both a high poverty rate and some of the highest COVID-19 infection rates in the city.

  • "It just seemed like the right space to start," said Ala Stanford.

Pediatric COVID vaccines arrive in Texas

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Texas health officials have asked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ship Pfizer's pediatric COVID-19 vaccine doses to more than 900 providers in 155 Texas counties over the next week.

Driving the news: The FDA expanded its emergency use authorization of the Pfizer vaccine to include children ages 5-11, and the CDC on Tuesday endorsed the two-dose regimen for kids, the final step in the approval process. Vaccine doses started showing up in Texas on Monday.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenge to affirmative action at Harvard, UNC

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a pair of cases challenging the consideration of race in the college admissions processes.

Why it matters: The conservative high court's ruling could determine the future of affirmative action in higher education.