Joyable Raises $8 Million for App to Treat Social Anxiety, Depression

Joyable CEO Pete Shalek, left, and COO Steve Marks.

Joyable Inc. has raised $8 million in Series A venture funding to give people diagnosed with mental health issues such as social anxiety a new therapeutic option.

The San Francisco company’s app gives users a series of interactive cognitive behavioral therapy exercises, that they can complete when they have time, to help them overcome social anxiety.

The exercises range from written reflections to real-world “exposures,” or scenarios that people can try to build towards a goal like going on a date, or speaking up at work.

Going to see a therapist in person is often difficult for people who need mental health help, especially if what ails them is social anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy sessions can be costly, not covered by insurance and hard to schedule.

What’s more, one-third of the U.S. population lives in a mental-health-help shortage area, kind of therapy desert, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Joyable’s competition includes traditional therapy options as well as other mental health apps and marketplaces such as Talkspace or Teladoc.

Unlike most “telehealth” plays, Joyable matches its users with “peer coaches,” not licensed therapists, who give encouragement and remind users to keep working toward their goals and not to abandon their therapy efforts.

Thrive Capital and Harrison Metal led Joyable’s Series A round.

Joyable Chief Executive Pete Shalek said the startup would soon release native mobile apps that users can access when they aren’t connected to Wi-Fi, such as when they are commuting.

The company will use its new capital for research and development, and new hires to address multiple mental-health problems in the future, Mr. Shalek said.

“People rarely have social anxiety alone. So we are looking at how to help people with depression, and other mental health issues that have ‘co-morbidity’ with social anxiety,” Mr. Shalek said.

Read VentureWire for the full story, including how Thrive Capital’s Jared Weinstein thinks Joyable can work with wearables.

A cognitive behavioral therapy app called Joyable helps people overcome social anxiety.