Even in the best of times, teenagers experience intense emotional struggles that can lead to mental health concerns. During the COVID-19 pandemic, those struggles have intensified for many teens. Daybreak Health, a virtual therapy platform designed for teenagers currently available in California, plans to make affordable, professional therapy available to teens in other states in the near future.

A recent study found that mental health insurance claims for patients between the ages of 13-18 increased by 104% in April 2020. One year into the pandemic, teens now face the consequences of extended social isolation, remote learning, loss of family members to the disease, and other traumatic effects of the ongoing crisis.

Platforms such as Betterhelp and Talkspace have garnered attention for helping adults cope with depression, anxiety, PTSD, substance abuse, and other mental health conditions. Daybreak Health works in much the same way as those platforms; it’s a subscription-based service that matches each teen with a licensed therapist.

Monthly plans on Daybreak Health provide 50-minute live virtual therapy sessions each week, easy messaging between teens and their counselors, group therapy options, and mental health resources. Parents who sign their teenager up for therapy can attend free parent support sessions, classes, and webinars.

Anyone can purchase a Daybreak Health subscription without the need for a provider referral. The platform doesn’t accept insurance, but parents can pay with an FSA or HSA or apply for insurance reimbursement. At $99 per weekly session, Daybreak Health falls into the middle range of average out-of-pocket costs for therapy and may be beyond the reach for teens from lower-income households.

However, teens living in larger cities or more affluent areas could save more than $100 by using the platform compared with in-person services. Teens in small towns and other underserved communities will benefit from access to a broad range of therapists, offering a greater opportunity to find a good match with an experienced provider. Some teens, including those with social anxiety, may find it easier to open up to a counselor in a virtual setting.

Daybreak Health recently announced that it has raised $1.8 million in seed funding. The company plans to use those funds to expand its clinical and engineering team so the platform can reach more teens in and outside of California. Daybreak Health also hopes to reach more teens through partnerships with health providers and schools that can refer the service to families.