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The Globe and Mail | Therapy via text? Digital clinic bets on cheaper, on-demand treatment

Originally published in The Globe and Mail on April 17, 2019 by Lisa Felepchuk


The series: We look at decision makers among Canada’s mid-sized companies who took successful action in a competitive global digital economy.

Conversations around mental health have never been more prevalent, but gaining access to therapy can still be difficult in Canada. In-person therapy can be beneficial for those who are willing to take the first steps, are able to adjust their schedule to attend sessions and can cover the costs.

But what if a person suffering from depression or anxiety could type and text with a qualified therapist as often as they liked by accessing a secure internet tool on a cellphone or desktop? In 2016, Sam and Claire Duboc set out to see whether they could get people off waiting lists by taking the mental-health counselling business digital.

Originally, the plan was to become the Starbucks of psychological clinics, but the Dubocs quickly realized they could make more of an impact if they used technology to create a less-expensive experience for people in need of mental-health care.

“Using digital capabilities, we can triage and treat people who are not yet at the point where they have major mental-health problems,” says Sam Duboc, executive chair and chief executive officer of Toronto-based MindBeacon Group.

The company’s approach was to build a digital platform called Beacon where patients can access registered therapists and get responses within one to two business days.

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