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When Naomi Allen, CEO of Brightline, was leading growth at Livongo—a telehealth company focused on managing chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension, as well as related depression and anxiety—her son started showing possible signs of autism. As she was scaling innovative mental health care for adults, she was also adding her son’s name to eight-month-long wait lists for care providers. “We got my son appropriate treatment after a lot of trial and error and a lot of expense, but it was a really scary experience,” she says.
At Brightline, which launched in 2019, Allen is making children’s behavioral health accessible via virtual therapy sessions and online coaching programs. Even before the pandemic began, children in the United States were in distress. In 2018, suicide was a leading cause of death for children 10 to 24. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that 22% of kids have mental, emotional, or behavioral health issues and only a fifth of those get care from an appropriate provider. In 2021, Brightline expanded beyond traditional therapy to include behavioral coaching, offering a more affordable option. It also went from a cash-pay product in California to an insurer-covered service that now operates in 44 states. “The remaining [states] are coming over the finish line,” says Allen.
The company provides an initial evaluation and connects parents with licensed clinicians that can treat anxiety, depression, ADHD, disruptive behavior, and speech pathologies, and prescribe medication for kids. Significantly, these services are now in-network with major health plans, including Blue Shield of California, Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts, and ComPsych. Through these relationships, Brightline will be available to employees at 33 companies.
Allen says Brightline’s nationally available pediatric behavioral health coaching sessions are a good first step for families who are new to mental health care. In these 30-minute video sessions, behavioral health coaches let kids talk about stressful days, help them get on track with school, and boost their confidence. In the first quarter of 2022, the company plans to launch services for children with autism spectrum disorders and expand resources for children and teenagers who identify as LGBTQ (a response to the increase in anxiety, depression, and suicide risk among LGBTQ youth, says Allen). Already, Brightline says 10,000 families are using its coaching service.
Brightline is also number 2 on the list of the 10 Most Innovative Health Companies.