In the United States, one in five adults experienced mental health issues in 2014. In the same year, one in 10 young people went through a period of major depression.
However, less than half of all adults with diagnosable mental health problems actually receive treatment, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Steven Herman and Robert Panczer are trying to change that.
Breakroom, a Boston-based startup launched by Herman and Panczer in January, aims to make mental health treatment more accessible to young professionals.
Its goals are simple: help busy, young adults prioritize and take care of their mental health, and become a trusted provider of necessary mental health services.
“There are a large amount of individual practice therapy offices … but it’s fragmented. They’re a very disheveled market where there’s not organization,” Herman said. “We’re really focused on person-to-person therapy.”
Breakroom will offer “comprehensive treatment options” in both individual and couple sessions, Herman said. The company will seek out therapists who are young and can relate to the unique lifestyles of their clients while helping to create a trusted database of practitioners for the company.
Breakroom will make the therapy process simpler by using an online platform for scheduling appointments, inputting medical history, and paying, Herman said. Clients won’t be forced to spend extra time in the Breakroom office to fill out paperwork.
“We’re aimed at creating a business that has value to it by the name, that the brand means something so that people know what they’re getting and trust what they’re getting. That doesn’t currently exist,” Herman said.
Breakroom will specifically aim to serve 22- to 35-year-olds, a population that Herman believes are not adequately tapped into their communities’ mental health resources. Many young professionals who recently graduated college are living in new cities, working full-time jobs, and living on their own for the first time.
“It’s a very large lifestyle transition … We feel that it’s very important to make sure there’s an outlet to work through these issues,” he said. “People aren’t really considering them needing mental health services when they’re the age group that needs it most.”
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has found that employees with mental health problems who receive “effective treatment” are more productive in the workplace and less likely to call out of work. They also lower medical costs and disability costs for their companies.
Herman and Panczer decided to start their business in Massachusetts because of the state’s strong record of supporting and financing mental health resources, Herman said. They pinpointed Boston because of its concentration of young, working adults.
“Massachusetts is one of the largest spenders on mental health treatment per capita, so as states go, Massachusetts really is involved in actively endorsing and actively supporting spending, both from the government side and from individuals on mental health treatment,” he said.
Herman and Panczer are actively looking for investors interested in taking an equity stake. They’re aiming to raise $500,000 by the end of the summer and open their first facility in Boston in early 2017.
But it doesn’t stop there. Looking forward, Herman said he wants to expand the company throughout the United States, making mental health resources readily available for young adults across the country.
“It’s hard to find a therapist that you can trust and rely on that is suited for your needs,” a problem Herman said developed the plan for Breakroom.
Breakroom, he added, will identify the mental health needs of young professionals to bring them care that fits with their lifestyles and molds to their needs.
Felicia Gans is an editorial intern at MedTech Boston. She will be a senior this fall at Boston University, where she is studying journalism, political science, and computer science. When she's not working, Felicia loves drinking coffee, jamming out to Broadway music, and reading the news.
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