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Portfolio Spotlight: MindRight’s Commitment to Health Equity

In partnership with MindRight Health

Hopelab strives to center equity in all facets of our work, especially through our investment approach, as we back founders with lived experience related to the youth and mental well-being topics their venture supports. Julie Tinker, Hopelab’s Principal Designer of Equity Innovation, sat down with Ashley Edwards, Founder and CEO of MindRight Health, to spotlight how Ashley’s leadership creates more equitable health outcomes for underserved communities.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Julie: Why is health equity important to you personally, Ashley?

Ashley: Because I believe in a future where the likeliness of certain health outcomes are not determined by our race, our gender identity, or our zip code. I’m really fighting for mental health equity. I believe that all communities deserve a right to have access to healing, especially marginalized communities impacted by intergenerational trauma and systemic oppression.

Julie: What are the ways health equity comes out in the values of your company or in the practices and the work you do at MindRight?

Ashley: It’s honestly really simple. At MindRight, we believe in meeting people where they are, which is actually a radical concept when it comes to healthcare. We know that in mental health, there are all these obstacles to getting care. There’s the cost, there’s accessibility, and then there’s also a very valid distrust of healthcare providers, especially in underserved communities.

And that distrust is valid due to historical harm that has been done to those communities by providers and systems. And so at MindRight, instead of forcing people to engage in standard traditional services like clinical therapy, we believe in meeting impacted communities where they are because not everyone is therapy-ready. That’s why we’re really passionate [about] providing non-clinical solutions, because it gives power back to communities and lets them determine what healing tools they want to use. And so for us, that’s really a part of the equity. It’s about redistributing power in provider relationships, and that’s what MindRight’s about.

We believe in meeting people where they are, which is actually a radical concept when it comes to healthcare.
Ashley Edwards, Founder & CEO of MindRight Health
image of Ashley Edwards, founder of MindRight in center of photo with star-shaped gradient background in blue and pink

Ashley Edwards, Founder & CEO of MindRight

Julie: As you think about meeting people where they are and how you are able to serve communities, what are the ways health equity has enabled you to build a stronger business?

Ashley: Health equity has helped us build a stronger business by being very clear in what we stand for. MindRight is here for BIPOC communities. We’re here for low-income communities; we’re here for Medicaid recipients. We’re here to advance health equity. By being clear in that and our values, we’re actually able to genuinely earn the trust of the communities that we serve because they see that it’s not surface level with us. Health equity and our commitment to it is really underlined in the entire system of MindRight, and I think trust is [an] incredibly huge factor that a lot of providers are missing when it comes to reaching hard-to-reach populations. So that’s something that we’re really proud of.

Julie: Because this issue is so important to Hopelab’s impact strategy, are there ways that Hopelab helped support your health equity goals at MindRight?

Ashley: Yes, I love working with Hopelab because you can immediately tell when someone is just genuinely committed to the mission and has shared values, and that’s all that I’ve experienced working with the Hopelab team. One particular way that they’ve been really supportive of MindRight is really helping us deepen our understanding of Medicaid. MindRight’s whole mission is about making this accessible to low-income populations, and part of that is really forming partnerships and deeply understanding Medicaid and the reimbursement system. So, we’ve really appreciated how Hopelab has really gone above and beyond to connect us to Medicaid experts and really facilitate our ongoing learning in that area.

Julie: When you look to the future, what are the health equity dreams for MindRight that you would love to see come to fruition?

Ashley: We are really proud that we built something that is working. We’re seeing the impact in young people. So my vision, my goal for the future, is really to make this as accessible as possible. We want MindRight to be a free service for anyone who needs it in any state. So, really looking at additional public-private partnerships, more Medicaid expansion to make sure that accessible mental health support is a right that everyone has access to. And MindRight. can contribute to that through our work.

MindRight Health was founded in June 2019 with the mission of making mental health care radically accessible and inclusive. It partners with health plans, including Medicaid, to provide non-clinical mental health coaching via text message to meet young people where they are. Is work centers on communities with historically marginal access to care and leverages technology to create opportunities for systemic healing. Hopelab invested in MindRight in 2021.

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