Los Angeles-based online mental health company iExhale has raised $1.86 million in seed funding in a round led by Dorilton Capital. The company, which makes an iOS app that allows people to instant message with licensed therapists or simply share anonymously how they are feeling or offer support to others on the iExhale social network, plans to use the funding to build upon its current offerings and take the platform national.
Launched last month and currently only available in California, iExhale offers its services to anyone aged 14 or over, in the aim of improving access to affordable, convenient mental health services. The app is similar to other mobile mental health services like Talkspace (which recently took heat for ethically questionable practices) or to the expanded services many telemedicine companies including American Well and MDLive are beginning to offer. The company cites two key factors as foundational to their mission: A considerable lack of practicing psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers throughout the country, and an ever-increasing willingness of patients to embrace telemedicine.
What’s more, people who have no prior exposure to therapy may feel more comfortable beginning their treatment with a virtual visit rather than in-person, the company says.
"iExhale offers a safe, non-judgmental environment where you can feel supported and understood while encouraging life-affirming change," iExhale CEO and cofounder Aaron Robin said in a statement. "What we do matters greatly because far too many people still struggle to get the help they need due to distance, isolation, fear and even shame. iExhale empowers you to take control of your life with a simple and convenient way to connect with therapists and the hidden community of friends and supporters around you."
The company was founded in 2015, and partners with credentialed mental health professionals including licensed llinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, clinical counselors, educational psychologists, PhD holders and doctors of psychology. iExhale provides profiles of all therapists to users, who can search based on experience, area of expertise and special certifications.
Once someone downloads the app (currently only on iOS, although Android is in development) they get a free 48-hour period during which they can browse and get to know therapists before booking a session. This part of the iExhale service, called Meet A Therapist, is available to minors without parental consent as it is intended as a time to answer general questions about therapy rather than actually offering it. Once a user goes to book a session, they must provide proof of legal consent, so a parent or legal guardian must assist if they are underage.
After the 48-hour trial period, sessions cost $64.99 for 45 minutes. No subscription is needed. If users don’t want to book a session, they can also log in to browse iExhale’s anonymous social support network, either selecting the “How Are You Feeling?” feature to express how they feel through writing, pre-loaded pictures or specific emotions, and they can also offer support to others in a safe environment. Since there is no free-form commenting or direct user-to-user messaging and the images and emoticons are pre-loaded, the company believes there is a less of a chance of bullying or teasing.
The company also announced Kim Hoedeman, CEO and cofounder of millenial mobile donation platform Benevolent Enabler, will join the iExhale board of advisors.
"Achieving mental wellness means finding a balance in all areas of life,” Hoedeman said in a statement. “iExhale makes it easier to take good care of yourself with help from qualified therapists and a vibrant, active network of individuals willing to listen and support one another through the good times and the bad."