The teletherapy company Uwill is supporting millions of students by focusing on the mental health crisis that was growing even before the pandemic.
When Michael London founded the teletherapy company Uwill in February 2020, he had no idea that a month later, a global pandemic would lead to a surge in demand for his service. While that timing may sound serendipitous, London actually spent the first year building Uwill’s platform and watching competitors gain market share.
“In two weeks, you’re really not able to seize opportunities,” London says.
When Uwill did finally launch its service, the Natick, Massachusetts-based company grew quickly, thanks in part to London’s mission of helping as many people in the education system as possible. Today, the platform supports two million students at more than 300 colleges and universities across the U.S., and is projecting annual revenue of $25 million in 2024.
Uwill offers free access to therapy to students at participating universities via video, call, chat, or message. Institutions that sign up for the platform can also opt into crisis support, medication management, and wellness programming products. Importantly, Uwill aims to connect students to therapists within minutes, and offers options so that students can be paired with therapists who target specific issues and who match preferences for things like gender identity, ethnicity, and language.
London founded Uwill in response to calls from university leaders for a solution to a mental health crisis among students that was growing even before the pandemic. Covid-19 exacerbated that crisis and drove up demand for telehealth solutions. One of the keys to Uwill’s growth has been London’s dual focus on the mission of addressing the student mental health crisis as well as building a financially sustainable business.
“When that student is in a bad place and feels they need therapy, I know they need it now,” London says, adding that students also “want to have some choice as to who they get to work with.”
A serial education technology entrepreneur, London’s previous company, Examity, offered software that allowed proctors to monitor test-takers online. His background as an edtech entrepreneur gave him key insights into student needs. One of the challenges he knew he would face is competing with other platforms for therapists given the ongoing scarcity of behavioral health professionals.
“We had to find therapists who believed in what we’re doing and wanted to work with us beyond just making the money,”Michael London
Therapists who choose to work with Uwill have access to other benefits, too, including support for continuing education, professional networking opportunities, and annual awards and recognition. To date, Uwill has enlisted the help of more than 1,200 therapists who work as independent contractors for the platform.
Some recent milestones include renewing a partnership with New Jersey to offer services to 44 colleges and universities in the Garden State. The company also announced its acquisition of Christie Campus Health in January, which supports some 750,000 students.
Moving forward, London said he has his eye on corporate telehealth. “It’s a competitive market,” he says, “but what we offer would definitely be a step forward for top employers that are focused on their people.”