As suicide rates among U.S. military service members continue to rise, Columbia-based Healium is doubling down on its mission to make mental fitness tools more accessible.
“It’s an honor to serve these service members and their families who’ve sacrificed in ways we cannot imagine,” Sarah Hill, founder and CEO, told Startland News in announcing a new partnership with the U.S. Air Force.
The deal is expected to deploy Healium’s patented, drugless solution for stress and anxiety directly to service members enduring a mental health experience.
“We get to learn their unique needs for mental wellness and human performance,” Hill continued, highlighting benefits of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 contract with the Department of Defense, ways its stakeholders can help better the startup’s product, and doors it could open to future contracts.
“It’s our pleasure to provide them some virtual peace,” Hill said.
According to the Department of Defense, 39 members of the U.S. National Guard were lost to suicide in the fourth quarter of 2020 — compared to 14 deaths in 2019. One hundred fifty-six service members died in total between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31.
Click here to read a full Department of Defense report on the suicide epidemic.
Combined with its SBIR contract, a renewed partnership with Virginia-based advisory and accelerator firm, The Outpost, could help further lower such fatality numbers.
“From pre-deployment to post-deployment, airmen and soldiers are being asked to manage so many difficult and stressful tasks these days,” said Dave Harden, CEO of The Outpost.
“With this comes anxiety, loneliness, depression, and — in the worst situations — suicide,” he continued. “Healium brings a world-class tool and experience that can help to not only teach ourselves to self-regulate actual brain waves, but start to make the synaptic growth required to combat stress and human performance–all with a spa-like virtual experience.”
Click here to learn more about Healium — one of Startland News’ Kansas City Startups to Watch in 2020.
Both partnerships come after a year of intense growth for Healium, which saw sales of its drugless therapy solution increase by 440 percent, Hill said.
“This is the stress olympics — and not everyone has trained for it. We’ve seen a surge in sales not just from the military but schools and enterprises who are returning to work and buying our ‘mental wellness stations,’” she explained of the Healium kit which includes a sanitized virtual reality headset and is designed to live in classrooms, boardrooms, and on kitchen counters.
“These drugless solutions are providing a walk in the park — when you can’t physically take a walk in the park,” Hill emphasized.
“… Whether it’s a large entity like the U.S. Air Force or an athlete looking to improve their human performance, our goal is the same … to make people feel better, sleep better, and learn to self-regulate their brain patterns by unlocking the healing powers inside themselves.”
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.