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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

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
Sep 22, 2021 - Health

Care for kidney disease plummeted in the pandemic

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

The number of patient visits for chronic kidney care plummeted by more than 26% in the early months of the pandemic, according to new data from the nation's largest insurer, UnitedHealth Group.

Why it matters: Researchers are racing to understand just how much care people skipped — and whether it actually affected their health.

Sep 22, 2021 - Health

COVID highlights high dependence of Latin America on medical imports

Photo: Jorge Bernal/AFP via Getty Images

Latin American officials on Wednesday highlighted how the pandemic has exposed the dangers of the high dependence of the region on imports of health technologies from the international community.

What they're saying: "The region... must never experience the dependency that it experienced with COVID-19," Carla Vizzotti, Argentina's minister of health, said during a panel hosted by the Atlantic Council and Axios Latino. "We must altogether say 'never again."

Biden's big bet backfires

Two key dealmakers — Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) — leave a luncheon in the Capitol yesterday. Photo: Kent Nishimura/L.A. Times via Getty Images

President Biden bit off too much, too fast in trying to ram through what would be the largest social expansion in American history, top Democrats privately say.

Why it matters: At the time Biden proposed it, he had his mind set on a transformational accomplishment that would put him in the pantheon of FDR and JFK.