Eric Kendricks is continuing to demonstrate his dedication to mental health awareness.
The Vikings linebacker recently invested financially in Real, a startup that supports mental health care, Sportico’s Emily Caron reported.
Kendricks isn't the only major investor, either. According to Caron, he's also joined by U.S. Women's National Team soccer star Megan Rapinoe. Caron wrote:
The round [of funding], led by venture capital firm Lightspeed Venture Partners, is Real's second raise since its launch last year, when the annual amount spent on mental health care in the U.S. reached nearly $240 billion.
Real's initial round of seed funding occurred in July 2020 and included a personal investment from actress Gwyneth Paltrow.
The startup was founded by 26-year-old Ariela Safira. Real is a membership-based company with a mission of delivering "affordable and accessible on-demand digital therapy to people across the country." Subscription prices start at $30 a month.
Kendricks said the investment "truly just felt right" to him. The 2015 second-round draft pick is passionate about ensuring access to mental health care for those who need it – especially considering the past 12-plus months of hardships that have included the COVID-19 pandemic and a heightened discernment of racial and social injustices.
"I believe they'll find ways to help all types of people. People who aren't willing to go out and ask for help but will accept it if it's available, or people who don't have access to [therapy] because of economics," Kendricks told Caron. "This is a tool everyone can use in their day-to-day if they're looking for [this] kind of help."
Caron reported Real members are able to access mental health programs called "pathways" and self-serve therapy modules organized around themes like depression, career anxiety, body image and relationships and that each "pathways" series has eight sessions.
Rapinoe, who has been part of the U.S. National Team since 2006 (and previously the U-20 team), also emphasized the "hurdles" many across the country face in getting help.
"Real is making both the space and the tools for seeking mental health care tangible, accessible and authentic," Rapinoe told Caron.
Last month, Kendricks and his fiancée, Ally Courtnall, shared their own mental health journeys as part of the Getting Open series. Kendricks began understanding more about mental health – personally as well as those around him – through Courtnall's experience with depression.
"I started considering my own mental health. And even though I wasn't struggling with it at the level she was, I began to just take a more of a look into my own side of things, as well," Kendricks told Vikings.com.
The 29-year-old remains passionate about the topic, and an investment with Real is another form of commitment.
"I had a lot more conversations this year than I have probably ever before on this very subject," Kendricks told Vikings.com. "How we deal with it. How I may react to something and someone else may react to another thing. How we both may deal with it. Times where it's been bad, times where it's been good.
"Just discussing that with another man, another woman, is therapeutic in itself," he added. "It just lets you know that, 'Hey, this guy's right here with me, he's sitting right across from me, and he's kind of going through the same things.' … We've got to help each other out."