This Virtual Therapy Startup Could Relieve Brits Stuck on NHS Waiting Lists

As the UK's first online psychology startup, My Online Therapy wants to make it easier to access mental health services

11.12.2019 | by Reve Fisher
Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash
Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

One in four adults and one in 10 children experience mental health problems in the United Kingdom. However, 80 percent of NHS trust finance directors surveyed by The King’s Fund state that funding pressures have resulted in longer waiting times for people who need mental health treatment. After getting access to mental health services, reduced costs often lead to fewer treatment sessions and less contact with healthcare professionals.

According to the BCC, hundreds of thousands patients who qualified for talk therapy last year were placed on a “hidden waiting list.” Between their first and second sessions—usually an assessment and the start of their actual treatment sessions—about half of the eligible patients waited over 28 days, and one in six were forced to wait longer than 90 days.

As the UK’s first virtual psychology startup, My Online Therapy wants to reduce the barriers faced by many when trying to improve their mental health. The company is connecting psychologists to patients with just a click of a button.

“With psychological issues impacting so many people’s lives, My Online Therapy was established to provide easier access to mental health services,” said co-CEO and co-founder Elettra Bianchi Dennerlein, as quoted by Tech Startups.

My Online Therapy offers a range of evidence-based therapy approaches based on the client’s needs, including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and schema therapy. After filling out a free assessment, the programme matches clients to the best psychologist and therapy approach for their concerns. Users can either follow the platform’s recommendations or look at the psychologists’ profiles and choose one for themselves.

Patients can fit in therapy sessions around their schedule, without having to leave home. My Online Therapy offers video sessions, live chat or daily messaging, allowing users to choose how they wish to connect to their counsellor.

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“By applying groundbreaking technologies, we plan to revolutionise the mental health space for those who have previously been restricted by salient barriers, such as cost, access and stigma,” Dennerlein said.

The startup has raised £4.2 million ($5.53 million) in funding in a round led by Lighthouse Investment Group. My Online Therapy plans to use these funds to extend the platform throughout the UK and beyond.

“Global health and wellness is a £3.2 trillion industry,” said co-founder and CTO Vasileios Touronis. “We believe that with this cash injection, we can build a leading company in this rapidly growing space which will change the way people think about their psychological health and dramatically improve their quality of life.”

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