Health Tech

Headspace Health advances equity of mental health through Shine acquisition

Acquiring Shine will help Headspace Health improve its diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging efforts. Shine was first created in 2016 to provide mental health support to those in marginalized communities.

Amid a greater acknowledgment that minority and marginalized populations have specific mental health challenges that require cultural understanding, digital mental health provider Headspace Health announced Thursday that it has acquired an app that aims to be inclusive in providing mental health support to all.

The Shine app that was created by a Black woman and a half-Japanese woman has over 45,000 paid subscribers and over 90 enterprise clients. New York City-based Shine has reached more than 6 million people by offering self-guided content – that includes daily meditations, self-care courses and personalized support – as well as virtual workshops hosted by third-party experts.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Executives at Headspace Health said that with Shine especially committed to serving those in marginalized communities, this acquisition will help Headspace Health advance its diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) efforts.

By acquiring Shine now, we believe we can significantly advance our DEIB efforts by bringing on an experienced team that has been delivering against similar work for the past six years, and aligns with our vision, mission and values at Headspace Health,” said Headspace Health CEO Russ Glass.

Through the deal, Santa Monica, California-based Headspace Health will integrate Shine’s team, technology and select content into its platform, which provides mindfulness and meditation tools, therapy, coaching, psychiatry and other resources. 

Marah Lidey and Naomi Hirabayashi, Shine co-founders and co-CEOs, will both assume leadership roles at Headspace Health. Lidey will take on a product leadership position and Hirabayashi will join the marketing team.

The two first founded the company in 2016 because of a problem they experienced: they felt that their bodies, skin color, financial resources and past experiences were not understood by White mental health professionals or other mental health apps. 

“We felt (and still feel) it’s critical to ensure that our experiences — the experiences of [people of color] — are better represented in the mental health and wellness space and more reflective of our national population,” Hirabayashi said.

Joining Headspace Health allows Shine to continue its health equity mission, but on a larger scale, Lidey said.

“We feel we can better achieve our mission — to disrupt the traditional world of mental health and wellness with more inclusive support — with the scale and brand recognition of Headspace Health,” Lidey said. “As a combined organization, we’ll be able to share our tailored content for underrepresented communities with a broader [Black, Indigenous and people of color] community.”

While clients may not see a major change right away, Glass said he anticipates the deal will result in an improved service down the road.

“Long term, Ginger and Headspace members and clients can expect an enhanced member experience, including more inclusive content for members and enhanced automation within our products,” he said.

Last year, Headspace Health acquired Ginger, an AI-powered tool that offers text-based coaching and teletherapy visits for $3 billion.

Photo: PeterPencil, Getty Images