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Social investment fund backs mental health text messaging app



Mental health technology firm Buddy has received £400,000 worth of funding, with the LGT/Berenberg fund Impact Ventures UK among its investors. The social enterprise aims to address some of the challenges around mental health.

Buddy App aims to transform how people manage a mental health condition. Clients use the technology to keep a daily diary of what they are doing and how they are feeling, helping to spot and reinforce positive behaviours. They can also communicate with their therapist and set personal goals through the application.

The enterprise hopes to positively impact 1m people over the next four years by supporting those with mental health issues as well as their families and friends. The organisation argues that the NHS could benefit from the emergence of cheaper, accessible consumer technologies.

Syed Abrar, co-founder of Buddy, said, “We were determined that price could not be a barrier – Buddy App must remain something organisations can afford to use and buy; for every £1.63 investment raised, we can help one person.

“In fact, we’ve built the whole application to be inclusive. It uses text messaging so that everyone can use it, on any phones – rather than just a smartphone. Whether people are tech-savvy or not, we wanted them to be able and willing to engage. This inclusivity and potential for social impact is central to us, and has been a key tenet in out investment raising process.”

Around one in four people will experience a mental health issues over the course of this year, with this costing UK health services an estimated £1 billion. The new app aims to bridge the gap between formal and informal care by allowing patients to take greater control of their treatment.

Enterprises with a social mission have received increasing support in recent years with the healthcare sector seeing particularly strong growth in 2013. According to the Royal Bank of Scotland SE100, the social enterprises in the health and social care sector grew by 121%, reaching a turnover of £852 million, by the end of last year.

The growth, which is partly driven by the public sector spin-out, represents a significant opportunity for investors wanting to achieve a double bottom line by doing good whilst seeing financial return.

Photo: Buddy App 

Further reading:

Healthcare social enterprises in massive 121% growth in 2013

New fund allows social investors to support charities and social enterprises

Threadneedle and Big Issue Invest join forces for UK Social Bond fund

Green spaces in cities positively affect metal health

Government announces £30m social impact bond for vulnerable young people


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