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The Kids Are Not All Right: Solving the Youth Mental Health Crisis

Lightspeed Leads Series A Round for Daybreak to Help Every Young Person Benefit From Mental Health Support

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We founded Daybreak Health in the early days of 2020, already realizing the urgent need for our youth to have better access to mental health support. Pre-pandemic, 1 in 5 teens had a diagnosable mental health condition, and systemic barriers to care meant that 11 years would pass between symptom onset and treatment. 80% of teens with mental health needs were going untreated.

Then, in February of 2020, the pandemic hit and exacerbated an already dire situation. Schools began to close in March, and would end up staying closed for more than a year, creating unprecedented difficulties for children and families. Over the past 2 years, the need for mental health services has doubled in America’s youth population. Suicide attempts have doubled over the last decade, including a 30% increase in 2020 alone. The U.S. surgeon general issued a rare advisory on the youth mental health crisis at the end of 2021, saying:

"Even before the pandemic, an alarming number of young people struggled with feelings of helplessness, depression, and thoughts of suicide — and rates have increased over the past decade. The pandemic further altered their experiences at home, school, and in the community, and the effect on their mental health has been devastating. The future wellbeing of our country depends on how we support and invest in the next generation.” - U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy

Dr. Murthy’s last sentence may seem like hyperbole, but having worked with thousands of families over the last two years, we can assure you it is not.  School closures have impacted every child in the US, and for many, this traumatic experience has the potential to create ripple effects that could impact their entire lives. The evidence is clear: traumatic experiences and poor mental health in adolescence can impact academic achievement, poverty rates, crime rates, and even life expectancy.  

Will we let the pandemic cripple the future of an entire generation? The answer… is up to us.

At Daybreak, our mission is to create a world where every young person benefits from mental health support.  Today, we are excited to accelerate this mission with our latest round of funding, a $10M Series A round led by Lightspeed, with participation from Maven Ventures and a group of industry leaders in the mental health and education spaces.

Funding rounds are not the goal, but they do provide a unique opportunity to reflect on the problem we are trying to solve, celebrate the progress we have made, and most importantly, build the team that will help us have even more of an impact in the future.

Many of our passionate team members have experienced this struggle first-hand. Personally, my younger brother went through a mental health crisis in 2019 after struggling for 10 years with teenage depression. Our family learned a lot about the difficulties facing families navigating a broken and fragmented mental health system, including: 

  1. Lack of mental health education that prevents early identification and support.
  2. Under-resourced schools and pediatricians that often first identify the problem but usually lack the resources to help solve it.
  3. High cost of care that prevents access to mental health care, especially for lower income families (90% of families can’t afford weekly therapy)
  4. Scarcity of youth-specialized programs and therapists, leaving families to work with providers who do not specialize in working with youth or provide culturally sensitive care.

To address these issues, we’re building the first mental health system designed specifically for youth, reinventing both the care programs as well as the access model.

We created a first-of-its-kind therapy program to help youth reduce their symptoms and build skills and support systems to help them thrive beyond therapy. Our program is rooted in the Daybreak care ecosystem—a model built upon the belief that young people need support from their surrounding environment and support systems in order to succeed (especially their families and their school). We also deeply believe that treatment needs to be culturally sensitive and personalized to each individual. That’s why every Daybreak client is matched with a licensed clinician based on their backgrounds, needs, and areas of expertise. Our 60+ clinicians speak 6 languages and the majority identify as BIPOC or LGBTQ+ minorities. Our program is delivered digitally, with native mobile and web applications designed to engage the young person where they are, keep their supporters in the loop, and deliver truly n of 1 care.

Daybreak’s program is working, and families love it:

  • 3 in 4 youth reduce symptoms upon program completion
  • 4.5/5 youth satisfaction rating
  • 9 in 10 parents report improvements on behavioral scales
  • 70+ parent NPS

But, it’s not enough to create the world’s best therapy program for youth if 90% of families can’t access it due to cultural barriers, lack of education, stigma or affordability barriers. That’s why at Daybreak, we’re also reinventing the access model. We believe that care needs to be embedded in youth’s day-to-day lives and environments to enable real change. To that end, we’ve built relationships with more than 100 schools and pediatricians across California who refer families to Daybreak at the moment of problem identification.

And, it is essential that these services are free for families to access. More than 60% of our patients today pay nothing out-of-pocket for Daybreak’s services, and our goal is to get that to over 90%+. Over the last 6 months, Daybreak has grown 5x as we’ve been able to connect more families who need it to the care they need, bringing all the components of this system together.

Our progress to date has been made possible only by our truly world-class team—teammates that deeply understand the problem we need to solve, are relentless in the search for innovative solutions, and driven to change the world for the young people to come. And this is just the beginning. We’re excited to bring this new system for youth mental healthcare nationwide and continue to push the boundaries of how mental health support can be delivered and made accessible to youth of all backgrounds.

If you want to join a purpose-driven company solving one of the defining problems of our generation, we’re hiring and would love to hear from you.

You can read more about our Series A Announcement in this exclusive on Axios>


Alex Alvarado

March 27, 2022 8:34 PM