Grief care platform Help Texts spreads its message with a new subsidiary in Vancouver

The company offers bereavement and mental health support via text messages.

Emma Payne

Credit: Help Texts. Founder and CEO Emma Payne

The company offers bereavement and mental health support via text messages

If you’ve lost someone you cared about, you know how it feels.  

Emma Payne knew the feeling all too well when she went to speak at her friend’s funeral in 2015. She had lost her husband to suicide a decade earlier, and running into friends and family that she hadn’t seen in a while, Payne was met with a sea of people apologizing for not having reached out to her in the past. That’s when she was struck with the idea to create a bereavement care platform called Help Texts. 

By then Payne had 20 years of experience building web and mobile solutions. With a master of science from Boston’s MIT, she had actually launched her first startup in Gastown back in the 90s, which she claims to have been one of the first three web companies in Canada.

So, at her friend’s funeral, the idea was to use text as a simple way to deliver grief and mental health support not just to grievers, but also to the friends and family who want to support them and sometimes just don’t know how.  

“Starting a company to provide bereavement support and grief literacy two years before a pandemic hit was unbelievable,” Payne reflects on the launch of her sixth startup. “We have escalating mortality rates, we’ve got health care workers leaving, we’ve got less access to therapy and at the same time that more and more of us are looking for expert help.” 

Seattle-based Help Texts—which originally incorporated in Delaware in 2018 and just opened a subsidiary called Help Texts Canada Inc. in Vancouver at the start of this year—offers support globally in 20 languages, covering topics like health care worker burnout, grief and loss, resilience, and more. Working with dozens of bereavement experts, the 12-person SaaS company is rooted in evidence-based care, according to Payne, and charges $99 per person for a year of texts. 

“We deliver texts for a full year, personalized based on all kinds of things, but including cause of death, age, relationship, health care role, that kind of thing,” she says. The online registration process takes five minutes, and you get your first text right away. Most of Help Texts’ business is B2B, working with healthcare providers, hospices, tissue banks, organ procurement organizations and anybody who’s trying to provide bereavement and mental health support, be it to staff, employees or, for example, grieving family members at a hospice.  

Last summer, through a partnership with British bereavement support charity Sue Ryder, Help Texts became free to anyone who lives in the UK. Payne is also celebrating an overall “acceptability rate of 95 percent.” 

“Everything’s growing,” says Payne. “We just closed a half million-dollar funding round just three weeks ago, and I think we have sending text with paying subscribers in 47 states and 27 countries…Just this morning, I was looking at hundreds of feedback texts that come in from people, and they’re really very moving.”