Brave Health: Supporting Improved Mental Health Care

Expanding access to mental health and substance abuse treatment

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3 min

Between 2019 and 2020, approximately 21% of adults (over 50 million Americans) experienced a form of mental illness — and over half did not receive treatment. Similarly, 93.5% of adults with a substance use disorder did not receive treatment in the past year. Those statistics help explain why a majority of Americans believe that reducing healthcare costs and dealing with drug addiction are top priorities the nation should address.

Alumni Ventures portfolio company Brave Health has launched a virtual clinic to expand access to high-quality mental health and substance abuse treatment for Americans. Patients are matched with licensed psychiatrists, nurses, and counselors across the country and can schedule remote appointments.

Braving Mental Health

More than 150 million people live in a federally designated mental health professional shortage area. Additionally, many counties in these regions no longer accept Medicaid. Brave Health is providing behavioral health access to these underserved populations covered by Medicaid, Medicare, and commercial insurance, with an initial focus on Medicaid.

Brave develops preferred relationships with payors and community providers to create a renewable, low-cost growth engine via proprietary referral networks (health plan case managers, primary care physicians, hospitals, etc.). Its tech-enabled patient acquisition loop is deeply embedded in referring partners’ workflows and enables a scalable, diversified, defensible, and cost-effective approach to care coordination.

The company’s model has proved effective so far. Since launching health plans in Florida in 2019, Brave has rapidly scaled to serve more than 65 million individuals across 200 health plan contracts in 18 states. Additionally, Brave received 17,000 patient referrals from its proprietary referral network in 2021, which helped the company increase its net revenue by 163% compared to the previous year.






Health Plan Contracts




A Courageous Team and Competitive Moats

Before co-founding Brave Health, CEO Anna Lindow worked at the New York-based entrepreneur and technology education company General Assembly (acquired by Adecco for $425 million in 2018). She helped grow the company from six to 16 locations, built a team that served over 50,000 students, and helped over 4,000 graduates identify careers. The rest of the Brave team consists of executives with experience across healthcare and high-growth startups, including several former General Assembly executives.

In an interview with Fierce Healthcare, CEO Anna Lindow states, “access to basic behavioral health services for the nation’s most vulnerable populations is a public health crisis. The percentage of psychiatrists accepting Medicaid has been cut in half in the past decade. With nearly one in four Americans now using Medicaid, this gap leaves many without access to the critical care they need.”

Unlike other well-funded mental health telemedicine companies, Brave addresses these common challenges in the industry to gain a competitive advantage. As a result, the company is able to drive better short- and long-term outcomes and reduce costs associated with events like potentially-preventable hospitalizations, driving as high as a 66% reduction in readmission-related costs. Some of the factors that make Brave different include:

  • Offering an ROI-positive strategy to hit goals and avoid withholds / clawbacks for insurance and government payors
  • Lowering the total cost of behavioral health care
  • Health plans to pay for outcomes that Brave can achieve 
  • Referral networks and national contracting strategy lowering the cost growth engine

How We Are Involved

116 Street Ventures (for the Columbia community) and Bascom Ventures (for the Wisconsin community) deployed capital in Brave’s $40 million Series C led by Town Hall Ventures. Alumni Ventures’ Healthtech Fund and Total Access Fund also participated in the round. Union Square Ventures, an early investor in Twitter (IPO valued at $14.2 billion) and Etsy (IPO valued at $1.8 billion) also participated.

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