In this episode, we’ll talk about the accessibility, affordability, and diversity issues surrounding mental health care, including health insurance coverage and provider availability. Karan Singh is the co-founder and COO of Ginger, a mental health company that provides chat services with a trained behavioral health coach within seconds and video appointments with licensed therapists and psychiatrists within days. Karan advocates for a preventative approach to addressing the unmet needs in mental health, including health insurance coverage and diversity and availability of providers. Ginger has recently finalized a merger with the meditation and mindfulness-focused company Headspace, forming Headspace Health.
Listen to learn how the merging of technology and mental health care will provide more people access to affordable and more inclusive services.
On why he got involved in the mental health care space and founded Ginger
[00:02:59] “Culturally, socially, emotionally, this was the no-go zone for so many people. No one talks about mental health care, and certainly not in a lot of communities of color. As I started to dig into this space, I learned that many communities don’t talk about mental health care, but the stigma around mental health is pretty pronounced. And I realized I wanted to have an impact on that. I didn’t know exactly how and in what ways, but I got really interested in understanding this intersection of data and mental health care, and ultimately founded Ginger and have been on this adventure ever since, in pursuit of really delivering on that promise.”
Where do you see the innovation in the mental health space in the next 3 to 5 years?
[00:25:51] “I think what we’re going to start to see is an increased focus on not just accessibility and affordability, but efficacy. And really making sure that which we roll out works, right? And an increasing focus on science and evidence-based research to demonstrate the impact of these sorts of interventions. I think we’re going to start to see more and more of this long tail of interventions if you will. These things that we’ve traditionally never really considered mental health treatments start to get adopted in small ways where we are able to leverage a lot of the data that we’re collecting as a field to figure out what works for whom, when, and how.”
Thoughts on having a diverse team
[00:35:48] “I think it starts from within, first and foremost, which is not only hiring a diverse set of providers but a diverse team at all levels of the organization, including leadership and board of directors. That’s been a really big focus of ours and will continue to be a focus of ours to make sure that at every level of the organization, we commit to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging because, ultimately, I think it’s the belonging that encompasses the rest. We thought long and hard to make sure that any group we considered joining forces with was aligned and had that same core commitment to DEIB and should factor into who we choose to partner with and how we grow. We’re not doing it just because; we’re doing it because it will create a better end product.”
With fewer resources, how can smaller companies provide better employee mental health care?
[00:28:45] “I’d encourage them to see what they might already have access to because they may not realize that they already have access to a set of innovative solutions that actually could be quite effective. And if you’re not sure, you know, ask your health plan, your benefits consultant, or other resources —they could help guide you through that process. Because there are actually a number of these programs that may be covered and they may have access.
I think more broadly, we’re going to start to see, especially as we continue to focus on affordability, that these solutions do become economical for that segment of the market as well. That for the price of, in effect, covering lunch, you can actually get access to a month or a few months’ worth of care, right? That’s a pretty different economic equation, even for SMBs or other smaller entities who might think that this is just cost-prohibitive. And so, I think that’s something that I encourage anyone who’s thinking about that space to really challenge the assumption that it has to be expensive to be good.”