Anise Health, a digital mental health platform designed to provide culturally-responsive mental health care for people of color, has successfully closed a pre-seed funding round worth $1.2 million, led by Kicker Ventures. Other investors include Gold House Ventures, Allston Venture Fund, and a range of strategic angel investors. Anise Health was founded by Harvard grads Alice Zhang and Nisha Desai in 2022.
Since its inception in California, Anise Health has been steadfast in its mission to provide the gold standard of mental health care for people of color, particularly focusing on Asian Americans in its early stages. Buoyed by the recent investment, Anise is set to extend its unique services to New York and deepen payor partnerships to broaden accessibility.
Over the past two years, mental health challenges within the Asian American community have surged. Asian Americans reported the largest increase in depression and anxiety prevalence among all racial groups, with 41% experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression. 62% of these individuals have inadequate access to effective treatment. This can be attributed to a lack of cultural inclusivity in current treatment methods and a dearth of provider expertise in this area.
Indeed, most evidence-based practices for psychological disorders have been developed in Western contexts. A staggering 0.1% of trial participants are Asians, thus pointing to a severe lack in culturally-responsive mental health care.
Anise Health is carving out a novel approach to tackle this mental health equity crisis, redefining the end-to-end care journey to resonate with the unique cultural experiences of individuals. The company’s bespoke care model is designed to address specific cultural stressors, and its providers undergo rigorous training in cultural sensitivity to ensure consistently high-quality care.
Anise’s all-inclusive suite of services includes online therapy, coaching, and self-guided resources for individuals. For groups, the company also offers services like psychoeducational webinars and workshops to cater to organizations’ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) and wellness needs.
“We’re seeing a 97% completion rate of the first four sessions among our clients, compared to 50% POC dropout after one session. And we’re seeing statistically significant symptom improvements in just one month of treatment,” shared Alice Zhang, co-founder of Anise. “We are proud of our preliminary data that demonstrates the power of culturally-responsive care.”