Sas Ponnapalli, Beam CEO and co-founder, announces free telehealth for mental health practices

Written by: Sas Ponnapalli


I am writing this letter to share my mental health journey and how it led to a business decision we are making at Beam Health

For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to build things. I spent much of my teens dreaming of starting a company and much of my twenties doing just that. In 2013, I became the founding CTO of PlushCare, one of the first vertically integrated telehealth companies. I was young, driven and maniacally obsessed with our mission to provide virtual care on a national scale. Our team worked tirelessly, and after years of long nights and moments of doubt, we had built a $50M company backed by top VC firms in Silicon Valley. I remember feeling proud and eager to continue our mission.

Then, something I never saw coming happened. In 2017, a VC on our board became  worried about the company’s growth trajectory and pointed to my young age (I was 27) as a point of concern. A comment was made about my lack of grey hair. After huddling with my team, I had to make a difficult decision to leave PlushCare. Heartbroken, I entered into a period of depression and isolation. 

I thought about seeking clinical help, but I did not want my friends or family to think anything was wrong. Every day in the ensuing months was marked by anxiety and restlessness. I ran a million scenarios in mind about what I would do about the situation. I noticed as time went on, the anxiety kept getting worse. I began to feel helpless. 

While I later came to terms with the way things ended at my first startup and found my way to a life rich with fulfillment, I remember how much emotional pain the mind can experience. Looking back, it was one of the worst times of my life and I wish I had spoken up and sought professional help. Doing so would have saved many months of turmoil.

I realize that I am not alone. A team member at my new company, Beam Health, mentioned to me that 1 in 4 Americans suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year-1), and 60% do not seek professional help-2). This breaks my heart, and I want to do my part to help. 

In an effort to provide value to the clinicians we support and the patients they treat, our team is now offering free telehealth for small to mid-sized mental health practices for a limited time. Beam is a virtual workstation that allows healthcare providers to seamlessly connect with patients. Rather than limiting private practices and healthcare enterprises to a rigid workflow, we give our customers the ability to easily customize a better patient experience across telehealth, onboarding, online chat, and payment collection.

We hope this decision will lower barriers to mental healthcare, support providers around the country and empower those who are ready to take the courageous step of seeking help.


If you are interested in learning more about Beam’s offer of free telehealth for mental health practices, click here!