NEW YORK, April 20, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Today eSupport Health, a digital mental-health startup, announces funding from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, as the capstone to its pre-seed raise. The financial terms of this equity investment were not disclosed. The funds will be used to help build clinical trial infrastructure and to run a clinical trial of professional eSupport groups, with a focus on underserved people living with MS. “I’m thrilled,” said Victoria Leavitt, PhD, FAAN, cofounder and Chief Scientific Officer of eSupport Health. “We couldn’t ask for a better partner than the National MS Society.” Dr. Leavitt is Assistant Professor of Neuropsychology in the Department of Neurology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, where she is Director of the Translational Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory. eSupport was developed in her laboratory at Columbia.
Individuals with MS who have mental-health concerns face a complicated system of limited choices, complex reimbursement scenarios, long waitlists, and ultimately, a therapist who may know little to nothing about MS. Moreover, one-on-one therapy may not address the core problem that so many people with MS describe to Dr. Leavitt—feeling alone in their experience. Since so many people with MS experience similar challenges, coming together and connecting with others in a safe, secure setting may offer relief. Dr. Leavitt cofounded eSupport Health after three clinical trials of moderated group-based treatments she led in her laboratory, including a trial that showed a reduction in depression and loneliness after 12 weeks of participation in eSupport groups.1 Using its proprietary platform, the company delivers secure, video link-enabled workshops and support to the MS community in small, personal groups moderated by licensed therapists with MS expertise.
The investment from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society will support a clinical trial establishing the benefits of eSupport for underserved (Black and Latinx) people living with MS. “These patients are historically underrepresented in MS research samples and undertreated for mental health,” said Dr. Leavitt. “This funding will help launch a solution with the potential to improve mood, brain health, and overall health in quantifiable ways for all people with MS.”
“This award, through our commercial funding program Fast Forward, allows eSupport Health to expand their capacity to deliver cost-effective, scalable, mental-health solutions for people living with MS,” said Mark Allegretta, Vice President, Research, National Multiple Sclerosis Society. “We are excited to be funding a clinical trial of eSupport focusing on Black and Latinx populations, as this aligns with our objective of increasing opportunities for underserved populations throughout the MS community.”
“Today we’re excited to announce funding from the National MS Society to close our pre-seed round,” said Joe Duncan, Cofounder and CEO at eSupport Health, an executive with over 20 years of experience in starting, building, and leading businesses. “Running clinical trials is a critical component of our mission to provide effective solutions grounded in science.”
About Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. There is currently no cure for MS. Symptoms vary from person to person and range from numbness and tingling to mobility challenges, blindness, and paralysis. An estimated one million people live with MS in the United States. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and it affects women three times more than men. The estimated lifetime cost of MS is more than $4 million per patient, and the estimated total cost in the U.S. is $28 billion annually. MS is ranked second behind only congestive heart failure in direct all-cause medical costs.2 While there are now more than a dozen approved disease modifying treatments for MS, individuals remain at much higher risk for anxiety and depression than the general population.3 Despite the clear and urgent need, mental-health treatments that are affordable, personalized, and effective remain mostly unavailable.
About eSupport Health
eSupport Health was established in November 2019, as a Delaware Public Benefit Corporation, to provide practical, actionable solutions that improve mental health for people living with MS and other chronic conditions. The company currently offers professional support groups for (1) people living with MS, (2) people newly diagnosed with MS, and (3) loved ones and family members of people living with MS. Groups meet weekly via secure online video and are moderated by experienced coaches who are licensed therapists with MS expertise. The first month is free of charge. eSupport Health also offers free monthly workshops, open to everyone who registers. The company is headquartered in New York City. To learn more, please visit the website www.esupporthealth.com or watch this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEpKIFC4dqo
About the National Multiple Sclerosis Society
The National MS Society, founded in 1946, funds cutting-edge research, drives change through advocacy, and provides programs and services to help people affected by MS live their best lives. Connect to learn more and get involved: nationalMSsociety.org, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or 1-800-344-4867.
1 Leavitt VM, Riley CS, De Jager PL, Bloom S. eSupport: Feasibility trial of telehealth support group participation to reduce loneliness in multiple sclerosis. Mult Scler J. 2020;26(13):1797-1800. doi:10.1177/1352458519884241
2 Six Cost Drivers of Multiple Sclerosis. https://www.optum.com/business/resources/library/ms-cost-drivers.html. Accessed April 7, 2021.
3 Boeschoten RE, Braamse AMJ, Beekman ATF, et al. Prevalence of depression and anxiety in Multiple Sclerosis: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Neurol Sci. 2017;372:331-341. doi:10.1016/j.jns.2016.11.067
eSupport has licensed its technology from Columbia University. Columbia University and Dr. Victoria Leavitt have equity in eSupport Health.
SOURCE eSupport Health