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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Voda Secures £270k to Combat LGBTQIA+ Mental Health Crisis in the UK

The award-winning mental health app, Voda, has raised £270k in pre-seed funding to tackle the mental health crisis affecting the UK’s LGBTQIA+ community. After a successful pilot launch in 2023, Voda obtained funding from an investment round led by Freiraum Ventures, with contributions from impact investors Lightbulb Trust and ULTRA VC.

Aimed at helping LGBTQIA+ individuals develop self-compassion, heal, and shed shame, the funding will enhance the app’s ability to provide inclusive and accessible mental health support for queer people.

The platform, co-designed with seven LGBTQIA+ psychotherapists who identify across various genders, sexualities, and ethnicities, currently supports over 12,000 LGBTQIA+ individuals worldwide, with 4,000 users in the UK, which is the largest segment of its global user base.

The app educates users on evidence-based therapy methods for self-regulation, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), and mindfulness.

Research led by the University of Manchester in February 2024 revealed that trans people in England are more likely to endure long-term poor mental health, with some facing a risk five times higher than that of cisgender individuals. In 2022, YouGov reported that half of LGBTIA+ Britons (51%) experienced or were diagnosed with a mental health condition, compared to a third of the general population (32%).

Jaron Soh (he/him), co-founder and CEO of Voda, remarked: “The LGBTQIA+ community faces significantly higher rates of mental health issues due to systemic discrimination and personal trauma. This disproportionate impact has been widely documented. Yet, the financial inaccessibility of private therapy, combined with the lack of LGBTQIA+ affirming care within the NHS is worsening this mental health crisis, leaving many without the support they need. This needs to change. And the approach must be rooted in empathy, kindness, and inclusivity. We started Voda because each of us had faced mental health struggles related to our queer identities and wanted to create a supportive space for others on similar journeys. Our personal experiences of overcoming shame and the lack of access to genuine support have gone on to shape the app for our users. We hope that by placing lived experience at the forefront of our approach, Voda will have more impact and foster deeper understanding and connection with queer folks.”

Voda is backed by an intersectional group of investors from diverse genders, sexualities, and ethnic backgrounds.

David Photien (he/him), Partner at Freiraum Ventures, said: “As health technologies advance, offering more personalised care, we are delighted to partner with Voda in their mission to provide inclusive and accessible mental health support to the LGBTQIA+ community.”

Sammi Wei (she/her), angel investor and founder of t2.world, stated: “For every avoidable tragedy broadcasted about our community, I’m reminded of society’s audacity to deny us the basic ethics of love and identity. This is why I’m investing in Voda to be a dependable source of healing and comfort to our queer and trans siblings everywhere in the world.”

Investor Richard Duncalf OBE JP (he/him) added, “Investing in Voda as an angel investor was a privilege. There was no way that I wouldn’t support the team and the wider LGBTQIA+ community.”

Director at the Lightbulb Trust, Luisa Gockel (she/her), commented, “We’re very excited to support Voda as they align with Lightbulb Trust’s values of creating a more equitable and inclusive society. We believe that Voda and its inclusive approach to mental health and well-being will have a catalytic impact on young people and the LGBTQIA+ community more broadly.”

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