Voda raises £270k to address UK LGBTQIA+ mental health crisis

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Mental health app Voda has raised £270k in pre-seed funding to help combat the UK’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual and plus+ (LGBTQIA+) mental health crisis. After a successful test launch in 2023, Voda secured funds from an investment round led by Freiraum Ventures, alongside impact investors Lightbulb Trust and ULTRA VC. 

Mission and purpose

Designed to help LGBTQIA+ people build self-compassion, heal and release shame, the funding will support the app’s offerings to provide inclusive and accessible mental health support for queer people.

The platform, co-designed with seven LGBTQIA+ psychotherapists who identify across the spectrum of gender, sexuality and ethnicity, currently serves over 12,000 LGBTQIA+ folks globally, with 4,000 users based in the UK, the largest percentage of its global users.

The app teaches the user evidence-based therapy approaches to self-regulate, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and mindfulness.

Research highlighting mental health disparities

In February 2024 research, led by University of Manchester, found that trans people in England are more likely to have long-term poor mental health, with some facing a risk five times higher than cisgender people. In 2022, YouGov reported that half of LGBTIA+ Britons (51%) said they experienced or were diagnosed with a mental health condition, compared to a third of the general population (32%). 

Founder’s perspective on addressing the crisis

Jaron Soh (he/him), co-founder and CEO of Voda commented: “The LGBTQIA+ community faces significantly higher rates of mental health issues due to systemic discrimination and personal trauma. This disproportionate impact has been widely documented. Yet, the financial inaccessibility of private therapy, combined with the lack of LGBTQIA+ affirming care within the NHS is worsening this mental health crisis, leaving many without the support they need. This needs to change. And the approach must be rooted in empathy, kindness and inclusivity. We started Voda because each of us had faced mental health struggles related to our queer identities and wanted to create a supportive space for others on similar journeys. Our personal experiences of overcoming shame and the lack of access to genuine support have gone on to shape the app for our users. We hope that by placing lived experience at the forefront of our approach, Voda will have more impact and foster deeper understanding and connection with queer folks.” 

Voda is backed by an intersectional roster of investors across gender, sexuality and ethnicity.  

Statement from investors

David Photien (he/him), Partner at Freiraum Ventures, commented: “As health technologies advance, offering more personalised care, we are delighted to partner with Voda in their mission to provide inclusive and accessible mental health support to the LGBTQIA+ community.”

Sammi Wei (she/her), angel investor and founder of t2.world, commented: “For every avoidable tragedy broadcasted about our community, I’m reminded of society’s audacity to deny us the basic ethics of love and identity. This is why I’m investing in Voda to be a dependable source of healing and comfort to our queer and trans siblings everywhere in the world.”

InvestorRichard Duncalf OBE JP (he/him) added, “Investing in Voda as an angel investor was a privilege. There was no way that I wouldn’t support the team and the wider LGBTQIA+ community”.

Director at the Lightbulb Trust, Luisa Gockel (she/her) added, “We’re very excited to support Voda as they align with Lightbulb Trust’s values of creating a more equitable and inclusive society. We believe that Voda and its inclusive approach to mental health and well-being will have a catalytic impact on young people and the LGBTQIA+ community more broadly.”

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