Singapore-based mental health startup ThoughtFull announced Thursday it raised $4 million in a pre-Series A funding round led by Sheares Healthcare Group, owned by the city-state’s sovereign-wealth fund Temasek.
Participating in this round were returning investors the Hive Southeast Asia, Vulpes Investment Management, and founding members of Southeast Asian tech giants, including superapp Grab and e-commerce site Zalora. The pre-Series A brings the four-year-old startup’s total funding to $5.1 million.
“ThoughtFull’s approach to scaling seamless, end-to-end mental healthcare aligns with Sheares’ mission to invest in companies that are shaping the future of healthcare through innovative and patient-focused care,” said Khoo Ee Ping, chief corporate development officer of Sheares Healthcare, in a statement. “ThoughtFull is taking meaningful steps to close the gaps in today’s mental health ecosystem and we are excited to partner them on their journey.”
ThoughtFull marks Sheares’ first investment in mental healthcare in Asia. Sheares previously led the $30 million Series C funding round of Singapore-based senior caregiving provider Homage, which was featured on last year’s Forbes Asia 100 to Watch list.
Through its app, ThoughtFull connects its users to trained mental health professionals for personalized support, including video therapy sessions and self-guided exercises. Monthly subscriptions for individuals start at $169 SGD ($127.5), based on a six-month term.
The startup claims its user base spans 95 provinces, towns and cities worldwide, while its provider network spans 57 such locations across Asia. It plans to use its fresh capital to further scale its business across Asia, develop its product offerings, and conduct further clinical research.
Fueling the startup’s expansion is its partnerships with insurance firms. Last December, Hong Kong billionaire Richard Li’s insurance firm, FWD Insurance, announced a partnership with ThoughtFull, giving customers access to self-help tools and virtual therapy. In Malaysia, ThoughtFull partnered with AIA last May to include mental health support in its corporate solutions portfolio, so employees subscribed to its plan could access one-on-one therapy.
More broadly, a March report from the World Health Organization found that the Covid-19 pandemic has triggered a 25% increase in depression and anxiety worldwide. Yet reaching out for mental health support remains an issue in Asia, where the very concept of mental illness is repeatedly undermined. A 2020 academic review of stigma against mental illness in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Korea and Thailand found that these illnesses were viewed as personal weaknesses and therefore were less socially acceptable, among other issues.
In the aftermath of the pandemic, Asian mental health startups have piqued the interest of investors. In early March, Singapore-based Intellect – also featured on last year’s Forbes Asia 100 to Watch list – secured an undisclosed strategic investment from Asia’s largest private healthcare group, IHH Healthcare. Last July, it raised $20 million in a Series A funding round led by Tiger Global. Meta’s first investment in the Asia-Pacific region was Ami, in its seed funding round last May.