Kooth plc is to provide its digital mental health and wellbeing platform to six million 13-25-year-olds in California after signing a $188m four-year contract.

The London company’s service is expected to launch in January 2024, with platform development underway in readiness for this.

To support the contract, Kooth intends to hire over 200 staff during the next 12 months to support and build its Californian and broader US infrastructure. These additional staff will primarily be practitioners, marketing and promotion staff, clinicians, and product and engineering professionals.

It is part of California Governor Newsom’s $4.7 billion investment in youth behavioural health, the Master Plan for Kids’ Mental Health, and the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative. It follows a pilot contract Kooth signed with Pennsylvania State in 2022.

As a result of the contract win, the group now expects a material upgrade to 2023 revenue guidance to not less than £34m, compared with £20.1m in FY2022.

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Kooth, accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, was selected as a primary vendor in competition with more than 450 different providers with existing digital behavioural health platforms and content.

It will aim to provide early intervention to help at a pre-clinical level with a focus on achieving positive life outcomes; build a mobile app and content available in multiple languages, providing culturally relevant content; deliver professional support via chat, messaging, video and phone; and leverage artificial intelligence to enable personalisation, risk detection and moderation.

A proposed share placing will raise approximately £10m to accelerate platform development and its wider international expansion strategy.

“We’re incredibly proud to partner with California’s Department of Health Care Services to help tackle the growing crisis in youth mental health,” said CEO Tim Barker. “As a pioneer and innovator in digital mental health care, being awarded this contract in a highly competitive process is a huge testament to the world-class technology and clinical expertise that we have developed over decades.”

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