The news: Mental health giant Headspace Health announced the acquisition of chat-based AI tool company Sayana for an undisclosed amount, per a company press release.
Sayana’s chat-based AI persona encourages its 300,000 users to track their moods along with associated influences, while also suggesting breathing exercises.
What the acquisition means for Headspace Health: The Sayana deal should fit neatly with Headspace’s recent multibillion-dollar merger with Ginger to allow the growing company to offer more personalized care than its competitors.
The merger of mindfulness company Headspace with Ginger, an online therapy startup, last October formed an entity that covers about 100 million users across 190 countries.
Now, the Sayana addition will likely take the combined entity’s offerings one step further to outpace rivals: For example, mental health company Calm includes a mood-tracking feature but has yet to offer sessions with a therapist or psychiatrist.
What’s next? Headspace Health’s acquisition could be a sign that telemental health companies will try to reel in new customers this year with tools like chatbots and peer-to-peer sessions to reduce a long-standing barrier associated with accessing traditional therapy: stigma.
Many consumers say they prefer to talk to a chatbot or other AI program rather than a human therapist, likely due to unfamiliarity or the stigma tied to receiving traditional therapy.
But chatbots aren’t the only mental health services cropping up this year: Newer entrants such as telehealth startup Pace are confident they can use their peer-to-peer care model to reduce consumers’ stigma around receiving mental health treatment.