Evidence-based, digital aftercare for mentally ill patients

Katharina Kittelberger

Startup Stories

Only a few of the 1.3 million patients who are hospitalized for a mental disorder in Germany each year receive the necessary follow-up treatment. This results in ≥33% being hospitalized again within the first year. To address this problem, mentalis, a healthcare startup founded in 2018 and based in Nuremberg, Germany, offers evidence-based digital aftercare that combines algorithm-driven app therapy and immediate psychological tele-support. 

This can reduce high rehospitalization rates in the area of F-diagnoses, avoid more complex follow-up treatments, and reduce individual suffering and costs to society.

In an interview with 5-HT, Dr. Christian A. Lukas, Founder & Managing Director, provides interesting insights behind the scenes of the healthcare startup and explains mentalis aftercare in more detail. 

Dr. Christian A. Lukas, Founder & Managing Director at the health care startup mentails

How would you explain your solution in three sentences to a professional colleague from the health sector?

"The digital aftercare provided by mentalis stabilizes the therapeutic successes achieved in the hospital and, if necessary, transfers patients to further treatment in routine care. The aftercare programs follow a hybrid-care approach by combining evidence-based therapy apps with psychological tele-conversations. We offer programs for several mental disorders."

What problem motivated you to start the company? 

"Hospital treatment is an important stabilization in times of crisis. From my own clinical work experience, I am familiar with the situation, that, unfortunately, upon discharge many patients find themselves in an extremely difficult situation. The road to recovery is still long and further treatment to cope with the disorder is urgently needed, but only very few people receive follow-up treatment without long waiting times.

To improve the precarious care situation, I founded mentalis GmbH from my university research together with a team of psychologists, programmers and designers to provide digital aftercare services for patients with mental disorders."

The team behind the health startup menatlis

How do you convince a pharmaceutical company, a health insurance company or another potential client to set up a pilot project with you?

"The mentalis aftercare programs offer the highest level of quality for your patients. As a medical device manufacturer with university roots, the scientific approach and continuous improvement of our evidence-based care concepts are always our priority.

The effectiveness of our programs has been proven by scientific studies in cooperation with renowned clinics and universities. A particular advantage to mentalis is that our aftercare is seamlessly integrated into hospital treatment, as it is technically and procedurally integrated into the hospital's discharge process. In this way, patients can continue to be treated without gaps and therapy successes can be ensured in the long term.

We already cooperate with a large number of clinics and health insurance companies, which cover more than 10 million insured persons."

Who are your current customers (groups) and who do you want your potential customers to be?

"Our current clients are clinics for psychiatry, psychotherapy and psychosomatics, health insurances as well as patients with the following disorders: alcohol dependence, depression, borderline disorder, eating disorders (anorexia nervosa; bulimia nervosa). In addition, we offer a transdiagnostic program for emotion regulation. We are currently active on the German market, but are planning our roll-out in other markets in Europe, as well. We are currently planning to develop an additional aftercare program for patients with schizophrenia."

Where do you see yourself in 3 years and how can 5-HT support you?

"In five years, we want mentalis to be established as a standard aftercare option for patients with mental disorders in Germany and other European countries. With the support of 5-HT, we can imagine to a build a global network with key decision makers in the healthcare system."

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