In 2011, when Sam Duboc, the founder of Air Miles and Pathways to Education in Canada found himself battling depression after losing a close family member in October and experiencing various life challenges, he realised the importance of easy access to adequate mental health care at affordable rates immediately.
The successful entrepreneur has theoretical knowledge about the aspects of mental health from his experience as a member of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in the early 2000s.
Even though Duboc was financially stable and had access to my psychologist in the city, he empathises with people on tight schedules or who did not have the financial or geographical access to mental therapists quickly even when they were in dire need.
Beacon is a pre-paid and insured digital app that provides personalised rational assessment therapy and protocol through an online questionnaire generated by artificial intelligence. With just $500 for an extendable 12 weeks, the Beacon assigns a professional, real-life therapist to the user who guides you through online chats over a protected network.
The Beacon allows you to have immediate access to an assigned therapist anytime and process your thoughts. It aims to minimise the stigma involved in getting personal counselling or over video calls and eliminate the fear of face-to-face therapy. The Beacon also allows the therapist to assist more clients in one day, eliminating geographical and wait-time challenges.
While digital apps cannot prevent a mental crisis or suicidal tendencies, Natalie Roach from Workplace Wellbeing Services at Ryerson University stated that it is highly effective in minimising the damages and providing emotional and psychological support.
Maura O’Keefe, a clinical coordinator for the centre for student counselling and development at Ryerson University, also stated that Beacon could mitigate the effects of mental trauma through coping solutions and preventing the onset of a crisis by responding with practical measures.
However, Beacon is receptive about the safety protocols of the clients and ensures that the app does not substitute the effectiveness of rational approaches to the psychological or mental crisis. It solely provides the best explanations and suggestions for dealing with cognitive conditions and should not be used as a solution provider, but rather as a guide or pacifier for clients with mild to severely moderate conditions.