Bend Health Broadens Services, Extending Support to Youth Up to Age 25

The virtual pediatric mental health startup Bend Health has expanded its services to young adults.

Founded in 2021, the ​​Madison, Wisconsin-based startup was focused on caring for children up to age 17 and their families through partnerships with pediatricians based on the collaborative care model. The extension of services to young people up to age 25 comes out of a need to service the needs of pediatrician partners, meet changes in how young adults get health insurance coverage and address the expanding mental health needs of young adults.

“We didn’t want the experience to end for an 18-year-old, especially when they were benefiting from our services today,”‘ Monika Roots, co-founder and president of Bend Health, told Behavioral Health Business in an exclusive interview. “Being able to continue with them through the age of 18 and upwards, we thought, was a really important decision for us to make.”


Pediatrics applies from infancy through young adulthood. The pediatricians it collaborates with are increasingly asking Bend Health to treat patients older than 17. More often today, patients remain on their parent’s health insurance plans well into young adulthood. The Affordable Care Act mandates health plans to allow dependent child coverage up to age 26

Further, the previous age cutoff ended access to care provided in partnership with trusted physical health care providers right at a phase of life for young folks that includes major transitions and disruptions to life circumstances.

“We’re seeing a lot of pain, suffering and stress in higher education today: there are so many kids that are going through the aftermath of social distancing and the pandemic,” Roots said. “We see a lot of young adults really having trouble with that transition into being more independent. … We knew that if we brought our formula, our secret sauce for care, into that age range, we would be able to have a significant opportunity to support them.”


The patient experience at Bend Health fundamentally changes as patients transition into adulthood, a development that requires investment by the company. Legally, adult patients are required to receive the privacy assurances afforded by American law. Still, the company’s platform and patient terms still allow  caretakers to remain involved in care for young adults. 

Adding a new care population also requires new life-stage-specific care programming. Bend Health developed what it calls the “Road Trip of Life.” The program helps patients achieve greater personal independence, emancipation, as well as support for parents during the transition. 

“You have to go from being used to being the manager or the coach — always knowing what your child’s doing, managing their schedule, everything — to now being in the crowd, in the audience,” Roots said. ” You’re the one who’s got to cheer them along and not necessarily be the manager.”

Roots acknowledges that the college-aged population has seen a lot of attention from companies that see the exact same opportunities Bend Health sees, especially digital mental health companies. For example, these companies include TimelyCare (formerly TimelyMD), UWill and UpLift after its acquisition of TAO. The hybrid intensive outpatient program-focused startup Lightfully Behavioral Health recently launched a college-aged focus initiative. 

Still, Roots points out that the care provided to this population is highly siloed from the rest of the care continuum and doesn’t always enable caregiver participation.

“There are a lot of solutions. You’re absolutely right,” Roots said. “But there are very few solutions that have evidence to support that they actually work.”

In March 2023, Bend Health emerged from stealth mode, having raised $32 million between a seed round and a Series A round. The latter saw participation from venture capital firms Maveron, SteelSky Ventures, and WVV Capital. 

The expansion of the patient base continues to expand the company’s scope. In July, Bend Health announced the development of a virtual neuropsychological evaluation service. Inaccessible diagnostics stand as a persistent, upstream systemic issue in most behavioral health.

Companies featured in this article: