Mental illness is a more common affliction in society than most people think. But, many people are embarrassed to admit and confront their mental illness. According to TechCrunch50 startup BreakThrough, one in four American adults have a mental illness but two-thirds of Americans don’t get proper treatment. BreakThrough hopes to provide an easy and private way to connect mental health providers with clients for therapy via video, phone or the web through their newly launched platform.
On BreakThrough’s site, clients can search for providers (including psychiatrists, psychologists and nurses) on a variety of criteria, including price, speciality (i.e. depression, schizophrenia, post traumatic stress disorder), and gender. On a provider’s page you can see his or her education, experience, pricing for services, the insurance the professional accepts, and even a video introduction of the provider explaining his or her specialities. BreakThrough certifies all providers are credentialed professionals.
If you find a provider that suits your needs, you can see available appointments and schedule an appointment to chat via video chat (via Skype), email or the phone. And you can remain anonymous throughout the process; all you need is an email address to participate in the site. The virtue of BreakThrough is in this anonymity—people may be embarrassed to publicly acknowledge their potential mental illnesses to the public and the site gives people a way to do this in the comfort of their own home.
Expert Panel Q&A (paraphrased)
The experts: Satish Dharmaraj, Lior Zorea, Bradley Horowitz, Tim O’Reilly, Kevin Rose
KR: Is anyone else doing this?
A: There are advice platforms, but they don’t have licensed providers. Some platforms don’t have the technology.
TO: How do you get therapists to participate?
A: We have a log of providers who are interested.
TO: How do you qualify them?
A: We only get licenses medical therapists and make sure to authenticate all professionals.
LZ: On the trust side, I’m worried that these are personal issues. Why would you log on to the internet? Also there is a liability issue with fraud, malpractice.
A: We aren’t trying to replace in person treatment.
BH: Is there something sad about this?
A: It’s asking a lot for someone with depression to admit to this publicly. Ten years ago, this would have been a concern. But now we do so much online.
TO: Advice-you might consider working with employee assistance programs.
SD: Do shrinks learn from body language?
A: Yes, shrinks prefer video chat. But therapists can also tell a lot from phone.