Advocate Health backs virtual behavioral health startup that raised $32M

Charlotte, N.C.-based Advocate Health is among the backers of virtual behavioral health startup Bend Health, which has raised $32 million since launching in 2021 and recently partnered with a Wisconsin health system.

The pediatric digital health company said March 23 it came to agreements with payers UnitedHealthcare and Magellan, as well as integrated medical and behavioral health partnerships with providers including Prairie Du Sac, Wis.-based Sauk Prairie Healthcare.

Bend treats conditions including pediatric depression, anxiety and co-occurring substance use through video visits, chat messaging and other integrated digital tools, tracking patient progress with technologies such as artificial intelligence.

"Our partnership with Bend on whole-person, whole-family mental healthcare has accelerated access to care from six to 18 months to a matter of days, solving an especially critical challenge for rural communities," said Ellen Wermuth, MD, a family physician with Sauk Prairie Healthcare, in the March 23 news release. "This is meaningful progress, and everyone across healthcare must continue working together to address our national mental healthcare crisis. If not to ourselves, we owe it to our children."

Bend Health also recently closed a series A funding round. Its investors include WVV Capital, a venture capital firm jointly founded by Advocate, insurer Northwestern Mutual, conglomerate Johnson Controls International, and electronics company Foxconn.

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