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Life/Health Professional | Mental health platform latest venture for investment veteran

Originally published in Life | Health Professional on December 6, 2017 by David Keelaghan


Launched in October, BEACON is a digital platform using the principles of CBT to treat mental illness. Sam Duboc says his own personal experience had made him realize Canada was severely lacking in this area, and that technology offered a possible solution.

“We use CBT over your phone, or laptop, i-Pad, delivering cognitive behavioral therapy for those that need it in a very rigorous way,” he says. “We start with a deep assessment and deliver a full diagnoses from a psychologist. We then put you on a personalized care path with your own therapist, and then track outcomes after every session, typically 1.5 times a week.”

When a person is finished their treatment, they stay on the BEACON system for a total of 12 months, which helps with the effectiveness of the program. Crucial is the original assessment, which is the foundation of the platform.

“We built a deep assessment to include not only things like your level of distress, but also your level of support,” says Duboc. “There are almost 500 questions altogether in the assessment tool, with AI underlying that, and it allows us to branch you to the appropriate care based on the initial answers. Machine learning then constantly makes it better as more people take the assessment.”

BEACON is still in its formative stages, but has already received the support of names like Carrot Insights, Cossette, Deloitte, League, Medisys Health Group, Porter Airlines, the Public Services Health and Safety Association, Sun Life Financial, and Wilfrid Laurier University.

Manulife Financial is another early adopter and the insurance giant is currently working on a disability program with BEACON.

“The interesting thing about CBT is that it works very well with symptom reduction across a wide array of illnesses, but almost all of CBT is not super effective on return-to-work, unless you add return-to-work protocols,” says Duboc. “It’s protocols on how to deal with your peers at work, how to have conversations and have a return-to-work plan. With Manulife, we have taken those CBT protocols that work for anxiety and depression and then added deep return-to-work protocols.”

According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), mental illness is the number one cause of disability claims in the country, with 500,000 people missing work in any given week. While stigma of the illness has reduced in recent years, it remains a problem that many suffers simply don’t seek help. Digital platforms like BEACON should help with that, believes Duboc, allowing people to have treatment at their convenience.

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