Childline behavioral health company Brightline expands into autism space

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Childline behavioral health company Brightline expands into autism space

The early intervention services for ASD will include video visits alongside parents or other caregivers, as well as other on-demand resources for access outside of sessions.

“Expanding our programs to serve youth with ASD and those who identify as LGBTQ and/or BIPOC – driven by our care teams and our Clinical Advisory Board – is a key part of bringing support to families across the country.”

The COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on Americans’ mental health, and children were no exception. LGBTQ youth and children of color may have been affected particularly severely. A Kaiser Family Foundation analysis found that 73% of LGBTQ teens reported symptoms of anxiety and 67% reported depressive symptoms during the pandemic. 

WHY IT MATTERS

Story Highlights

  • The company will also expand content and coaching geared toward youth who identify as LGBTQ, and Black, Indigenous or other children of color, expected to be available early next year. Brightline announced a Clinical Advisory Board that aims to help develop more programs for diverse populations.

  • “Delivering world-class behavioral healthcare for kids, adolescents and teens requires understanding their lived experiences, addressing underserved needs and driving extensive innovation in programs to meet those needs,” Naomi Allen, cofounder and CEO of Brightline, said in a statement.

Children of color had higher rates of mental illness and were less likely to receive care before the pandemic, and access was further cut off as schools closed to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, isolation made diagnosing children with ASD more difficult, limited their access to therapy and increased the strain on caregivers and parents. 

“Families of children with ASD need accessible, professional advocates that can provide evidenced-based and concrete strategies for activities of daily living,” Thea Shukaliak-Neufeld, an occupational therapist who helped design Brightline’s program, said in a statement. “Supporting parents of children with ASD is paramount to the overall well-being of the family unit, and coaches at Brightline are the link to future multidisciplinary and coordinated care, within Brightline, where a child’s needs are fluidly met by the appropriate professionals, even as needs come and go.”

THE LARGER TREND Behavioral health is a particularly popular space for digital health investment, racking up $3.1 billion so far in 2021, according to Rock Health.

Brightline announced it had raised $72 million in Series B funding in June, bringing its funding total to nearly $100 million. Other players in the pediatric behavioral health space include DotCom Therapy, which recently partnered with Goodside Health to bring mental healthcare into schools, ADHD video game developer Akili Interactive, and women’s digital health platform Maven, which expanded into the larger family care space last year.  

Autism-specific startups include Opya, Cognoa and Springtide.