Interview with Marjorie Morrison, Co-Founder & CEO of Psych Hub
Marjorie Morrison is the Co-Founder and CEO of Psych Hub, the most comprehensive online educational platform on mental health, substance use, and suicide prevention in the world. Their fast-growing library of learning solutions are empowering professionals, providers and allies in their efforts to continuously improve lives and outcomes. We sat down with Marjorie this quarter to hear more about her founding story, the mission she’s on, and the big picture vision for Psych Hub.
TG: What was the inspiration behind co-founding Psych Hub?
MM: If you’ve ever tried to find mental health care, it’s really hard. Right now, for the most part, behavioral health providers are generalists. So, when you see someone, it doesn’t really matter what your symptom is or what you’re going to see them for. They pretty much treat everything the same. When you’re a therapist, every hour you see something different. It could be ADHD at 9am, bipolar at 10am, and complicated grief at 11am.
There are targeted evidence-based interventions for different diagnoses that exist and are proven to be more effective. The impetus of Psych Hub is to get providers everything they need to be using these evidence-based interventions so they can treat more effectively. Psych Hub was designed to get behavioral health providers trained and certified into specialties using evidence-based practices to increase precision matching so people can get connected to the right care. This is a win-win for everybody. Clients get better in shorter periods of time; providers are less burnt out because they’re really honing their craft; and there’s overall savings in the cost of care.
TG: Can you tell us more about how a patient or clinician might use Psych Hub?
MM: People use Psych Hub in a couple of different ways. We publish a lot of free content to educate the world on all these different topics. We have a robust YouTube channel with hundreds of free videos, and we also do podcasts.
We also offer subscriptions to our platform (e.g., per employee-per-year, per-provider-per-year) and we provide all kinds of content. Psych Hub’s platform offers courses, micro-courses, videos, resources, and tools for almost every audience. Behavioral health providers use the platform to hone their craft so they can use evidence-based practice. We have our Mental Health Ally certification which is a service offered by employers. It allows everyday people to use the platform to learn how to help support others. We also just launched Workplace for Mental Health Ally in partnership with SHRM for HR Professionals and People Managers and are working on hubs for Educators, Teens, and Peers.
TG: Behavioral Health is a segment of healthcare that has been booming in recent years, and that probably has only accelerated during COVID. In your view, what makes Psych Hub stand out?
MM:We sit in a place where really no one else is since we’re 100% focused on the educational piece of behavioral health. We help amplify and lift-up what so many of these other behavioral health companies and organizations are doing. We have over 700 partners that are doing a lot of the hard work— the direct care, the digital therapies, and all these really cool new things that are happening because of this boom. We’re squarely sitting on the educational part of it, so I think that puts us in a unique place because we’re focused on giving people new skills and upskilling them so that they can be more effective in the work they do.
TG: You guys have been growing a lot in recent years, so talk a little bit about how the company has grown under your leadership and if there are some wins that you can share.
MM:We’re about two and a half years old. I tease Patrick Kennedy (my co-founder) often and say, “remember when we used to sit and sketch this out on the back of a napkin, who would’ve thunk?” We were one year into this when COVID happened. During that first year, we had about 300 partners and had developed over 100 short micro-videos, so we were sitting in a pretty good spot. We have really increased both the amount of content that we’ve put out and our partners that help share it.
In terms of our wins, one is that we’ve been able to put together our Scientific Advisory Board which is composed of the Chief Medical Officers of behavioral health of all the national health insurance payers. We have Aetna, Anthem, Cigna, Centene, Molina, Magellan, Optum, the VA, SAMHSA, (the mental health arm of HHS), and Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. I think it’s unheard of for them to come together as it is, and so that’s been a really good win for us. It has allowed us to go across all of the payers and work with them together as a whole to get providers using evidence-based practice and collecting outcomes.
Another surprising win for Psych Hub was the positive reaction and demand for Mental Health Ally, our learning hub that provides education on critical mental health topics. People ask me all the time, “who is Mental Health Ally for?”, we always say it’s for anyone who is thirsty for knowledge and understanding of mental health conditions— it could be someone who needs it for themselves, a friend, a family member, or a colleague.
We’ve seen a lot of growth and with that comes challenges. We’re looking at new ways to make our content even more engaging. I always tell people that Psych Hub is a content shop. We develop everything in-house, and we’ve developed over a thousand pieces of content. We’re making that kind of fundamental shift as a company to focus on the learner and base the content off the learner. We are using metrics on engagement to make decisions about what we develop going forward.
TG: How has your thinking evolved around how you build your team and retain the right people?
MM: We’re building the team based off personalities and experience, really looking at people who have muscle memory. You know it’s so amazing for me to sit in meetings and people just know what they are doing when I don’t know. It’s always really scary to me when I know more than someone else in the room because I’ve pretty much reached the capacity of what I know. I mean, I’m a good visionary and I know where we want to go, but I don’t know a lot of these things like how to build the tech platform, how to create marketing collateral that tells our story concisely, or customer success. I mean we really underestimated what a big piece of business customer success is and right now we’re over delivering (which has been great) with almost every one of our customers coming back for more which makes me so proud. That takes a lot of time and a lot of work to make sure that our customers’ success and implementation is going well. I think we underestimated that.
When I think about hiring people at the leadership level, I am looking for collaborative individuals that know more than me and that can really help amplify what we’re doing. I’m saying it because I’ve learned the hard way. Being a therapist by trade, you learn how to pick up on themes. You see patterns in people and that helps you help them. It’s been really cool just to watch this new leadership team grow. We had me and two other Chiefs, and now there are eight of us. So that’s a big change that we just went through within a two-month period. The way I see it, I’ve now de-risked the company.
TG: How do you ensure that culture continues to grow but stays aligned with founding principles as the company grows, especially in a largely distributed environment?
MM: You know, I don’t know that I have that answer right now. I think, like so many of us, we’re trying to figure it out as we go. I’m worried about it because it is hard, and I don’t think we’re the only company that is faced with this challenge. We’re being intentional about our time together. We’re bringing everybody together for a few days for an all staff which will involve some work, some networking, and some play.
In our town hall meeting last week, I took suggestions and one of the things that new hires said was that people should have their camera on during meetings. We don’t have a policy about when you put your camera on and when you don’t but when you have your camera on, people feel like they can connect more. So, I think it’s little things like that. We’re playing games, doing happy hours, and trying to do more collaborative group activities together. One of the things that has been tough is that the departments are more bifurcated than they should be. I have been thinking about how we can start working more interdepartmentally together. That has been helping a lot and we’re doing that a little bit more now. We just started this thing called Psych Box where every other week, a different department shares what they do and how they do it so people can learn. We also have committees for wellness, mentoring, and DEI. All these ideas came directly from our team.
I have shared with the entire company that I want everybody to feel like they have a growth path. I think it’s so important for our team, especially with all these new hires, to feel like they can move up. You know, when we first started, we really had to bring in leaders who knew their stuff but now I think it’s important that we promote from within and that we groom people into those roles. There is so much need and if they don’t love what they’re doing, as a startup, this is a perfect place to try something new. People should feel like they’re in a place where they can grow. We have a social media person learning data analytics and people are getting mentored in different areas. We want people to love their jobs.
TG: One of my favorite things to ask Founders is, what keeps you up at night?
MM: I wish I could say it’s one thing but it’s a few different things. Some of it goes back to this communication issue. Part of that is just new people and getting people onboarded. Often, it’s just about tracking. For example, right now we have this proposal out and I will be thinking about if we have provided everything they need. That will keep me up at night.
I’m a really loyal person and I want our team to succeed. Sometimes I worry as we keep bringing in new people. What happens to the culture? How do we keep people engaged? I’ve never met such an amazing, brilliant, kind group of people in my entire life and I worry about maintaining that as we grow. I think that’s probably what keeps me up the most.
I also think about and wonder if we are innovating and continually using data to refine our content. Working with YouTube is helpful. They call it the world’s largest petri dish so we can see how things are doing and so we can try new things. I think companies can get stagnant if they’re not careful. We need to constantly be nimble enough to always focus on making ourselves better.
TG: What’s your grand vision for this from an impact perspective?
MM: At an end game, success to both me and Patrick is if we can funnel through enough behavioral health providers, get them certified using evidence-based practices, and list them on a virtual registry so precision matching can happen. Then all our consumers across our 700 partners, whether they are at a CVS or watching a video on YouTube, can be connected to specific providers using precision matching with demographic information (e.g., if they are African American, LGBTQ). I think it’s the precision matching that is so critical. If we could help improve quality and help with matching, then I would say that Psych Hub was a success. We just have some work to do. We are already working with 30 states, Medicaid, and almost all the national payers. We are getting there, but changing behavior is hard.