By Zachary DiRenzo
In 2013, the idea of an app for mental health-care may have seemed novel, if not monumental in terms of a global challenge for a disruptive start-up. But times have changed. A global pandemic that led to a massive spike in mental health challenges, and the acceleration in adoption of technology-based health care, make what start-ups like Ginger.io set out to do more than a decade ago seem ahead of their time.
Globally, the World Health Organization estimates approximately 1 billion people are living with a mental disorder, and that the vast majority of those in low- and middle-income countries where mental, neurological and substance abuse disorders receive no treatment at all. The supply-demand imbalance for mental health care surged since the Covid-19 pandemic. One Lancet study estimated that 53 million additional cases of major depressive disorders and 76 million additional cases of anxiety disorders globally in 2020.
Ginger.io, which grew out of an MIT Media Lab team focused on aggregating and analyzing health care data, was featured on the inaugural CNBC Disruptor 50 list in 2013 for leading the way in creating a data-driven, on-demand digital mental health ecosystem. It became a unicorn in 2021 after a $100 million funding round led by Blackstone.