SKU’d Thoughts 46: Why I’m investing in mental health
If ever there was a year to feel stressed and anxious, it was 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic, social injustice protests, and political uncertainty put many on an emotional and economic rollercoaster which unsurprisingly puts a burden on people’s mental wellbeing. Even before this tumultuous year, anxiety disorders affected 18% of Americans.
Each person has their own way of coping with disorders. Some rely on medication regimens such as benzodiazepines (eg. Xanax, Valium) or antidepressants that help stabilize mood and relieve stress but they come with the risk of addiction or a host of side effects ranging from fatigue to blurred vision. A growing minority use cannabinoids (THC, CBD, etc.) which, depending on dosage, can increase or decrease anxiety levels while some people self-medicate with alcohol. The latter only offers short-lived euphoric relief and has no proven efficacy for anxiety and comes with a risk of addiction.
All of these efficacy variations, coupled with the eroding stigma that was once attached to mental health point to an opportunity for the CPG industry to develop easily accessible and effective over-the-counter products. Carrying products with little ingredient transparency or just plain overprocessing, the CPG industry hasn’t always been in service of optimal health and wellness. However, with more consumers prioritizing their physical and mental wellbeing, the industry has made strides to course correct — at least in regard to consumer physical wellbeing with product launches aimed at gut health, immunity, and other consumer benefits.
On the mental health front, a handful of established CPG companies like Helen of Troy Limited and Procter & Gamble have launched products with calming or mood-boosting ingredients in the last couple of years. But there are still plenty of opportunities for new entrants to better serve consumers. This is why my fund, SKU’D Ventures, invested in a CPG startup focused on anxiety and stress support called PYM. The company is pioneering an all-natural amino acid infused mood chew backed by the latest scientific research to help consumers feel their best through the ups and downs of life. I was drawn to PYM because of the founder’s own personal bout with anxiety which motivated his deep dive into mental health research and ultimately, his discovery of alternative anxiety treatment.
Anxiety and stress are commonplace. They were not be left behind in 2020, regardless of how much we collectively couldn’t wait for the clock to strike midnight on December 31st. However, as more people seek resources to calm and improve their mental state, I am glad companies like PYM now exists.