Oliva launches in the UK with £2.2M to address rising mental health crisis in workplaces

Mental health and effects of anxiety can have a far-reaching impact on productivity. Hence, in an uncertain world like ours, an ever-increasing number of employers are implementing changes that foster mental wellness for their employees. Add to it the trauma and uneasiness caused by the pandemic, more organisations are attempting to focus on the emotional health of employees recovering from Covid, blurred work-life boundaries in the ‘work from home’ context to keep employees connected, engaged and motivated in the extended remote work environment. In the UK, the Office for National Statistics has noted the pandemic is creating ‘a rising toll on mental health, with many people not necessarily accessing medical help.’

As these companies struggle with unprecedented strain on their employees’ mental health, they still lack a dedicated solution. While some of them offer insurance and wellbeing solutions to address employees’ physical health, a proper mental healthcare solution that covers the broad spectrum of both employee and manager needs hasn’t been available until now.

Facilitating digitally accessible therapy

Entering this space is UK-based Oliva, which has launched the first comprehensive online mental healthcare solution for businesses in the UK and Europe. The mental wellness startup has also announced a £2.2 million new pre-seed investment led by Atomico cofounder Mattias Ljungman’s new Moonfire Ventures, with participation of numerous tech founders and executives in Europe.

The company provides on-demand, professional-led mental healthcare for employees and managers through a zero-fuss digital platform. Created by experienced founders and clinicians, the company has developed its own care model based on proven, evidence-based care approaches—and recruited a team of mental health professionals—to set a new standard in workplace mental healthcare.

Track mental health online

From today, organisations can get Oliva’s digital platform up and running in 10 minutes, helped by a handy Slack integration, to provide their employees with mental health drop-in sessions, therapy courses, and dedicated training and support for managers. Through a secure and encrypted personal portal, employees can chat with their own care navigator who matches them with the right professional and type of care, receive 1-to-1 video therapy sessions from a curated team of diverse mental health professionals, and track their progress.

Emotional wellness now at the core

The startup is backed by Moonfire Ventures, the new seed-stage VC firm from Atomico co-founder Mattias Ljungman, which led a $2.2 million pre-seed investment round, supported by tech executives from fast-growing European startups and international tech companies, including Amazon, Booking.com, DogBuddy, Typeform, Hotjar, TravelPerk and more. The new funding will support recruitment, product development and international expansion across Europe.

The inception story

Founded in 2019, the Oliva team is based in UK and Spain. Its founders — Javier Suarez, previously co-founded TravelPerk, one of Spain’s most successful late-stage startups and Sançar Sahin, who previously led the marketing team at Hotjar and Typeform. Building a high-growth startup that was bringing on 50 employees every 2-3 months, Javier experienced his own mental health issues, struggling to manage his own wellbeing while seeing the toll it had on his team.

After he left TravelPerk, Javier was shocked at how difficult it was to find quality mental healthcare. He spent over a year understanding the mental healthcare field from both a personal and workplace perspective and realised the experience could be vastly improved. Javier and Sançar then teamed up to launch Oliva, initially building a successful proof-of-concept online mental healthcare service for individuals. Along the way, Dr. Sarah Bateup, who has spent over two decades teaching and training mental healthcare professionals, joined as Chief Clinical Officer inspired by the founders’ passion to develop a new online care experience that ensures care quality and individual progress.

Creating workspace to retain talent

Talking about the new startup, Javier Suarez, cofounder and CEO of Oliva, commented: “Employees are a company’s greatest asset – the better they feel, the better your company performs. But organisations are not set up to support their employees’ mental health in and outside of the workplace, which creates a massive problem for teammates, managers, and the organisation as a whole. We’ve launched Oliva to give employees access to comprehensive online mental healthcare and to help organisations overcome the related challenges—from attracting and retaining talent and training managers to supporting remote workers.

Mattias Ljungman, Founder at Moonfire Ventures, added: “Mental health has been an overlooked area of care and wellbeing, especially in the workplace. This company’s founders are taking a holistic, impact-driven approach to supporting mental health. While employer-funded mental health is becoming a well-established model in the US, this startup is the first to bring a truly comprehensive approach to UK and European businesses. Oliva has already built a strong value proposition, team and product to create a new model for mental healthcare in the UK, Europe and beyond.”

Building more inclusive work culture

Dr Sarah Bateup, Chief Clinical Officer at Oliva, added: “We are attempting to improve the way mental healthcare is accessed, supported and paid for, while also adding more ongoing oversight and accountability to the process. Our ambition is for Oliva to be viewed as a badge of quality and set a new standard for workplace mental healthcare.”

Destigmatising mental health

One of Oliva’s customers, April Hoffbauer, Senior Director of People at Maze, added: “Our team is our most valuable asset, and we recognise that a person’s mental health is critical to our collective wellbeing and overall success. With this platform, not only can we give our team members easy access to mental health support, but we can also develop a culture that is more inclusive and work to minimise stigma with Oliva’s training and insights.”