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New online therapy platform connects students with mental health services, treatment

Photo credit: @BeaconCBT.

Local post-secondary students are raising concerns about a lack of mental health services on campuses, following the tragic suicide death of a 22-year-old student at the University of Waterloo.

Sam Duboc is Chair and CEO of BEACON – which is trying to help.

He says it’s an online therapy platform that provides mental health services and treatment.

“BEACON seeks to make effective mental health care affordable and accessible for all. BEACON is an internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy platform that can guide you through your treatment every step of the way.”

Duboc says BEACON is already in the early stages of a pilot project at Wilfrid Laurier University.

“Laurier is a very forward-thinking university, and they understand the issues that kids are having today – that a third of students are facing significant issues with anxiety and depression. So WLU was looking for a solution – and we began talking with the VP of Student Affairs. We’re now working with Laurier in a pretty in-depth pilot, where their students can get access to our platform for treatment – completely free of charge.”

BEACON is designed to be ubiquitous – meaning it can be used anywhere.

“You can do it from your community, or the far North. It’s meant to the take those constraints of geography, time, and space out of the equation. BEACON starts with a very rigorous assessment. You’re then provided a diagnosis, and a conversation with a psychologist if you’d like. We then pair you up with your therapists – who will guide you through a protocol-based treatment. After that, you just stay on the platform until you get well.”

Duboc says it’s very important to be able to provide affordable, accessible mental health solutions to all.

“Laurier students can access it for free – but if you’re in the general world, and have to pay out of pocket .. it’s still less than 20 per cent of the costs that you’d be giving to a psychologist for the number of sessions required to get better. In the future, BEACON will be free to students with our partnering Universities.”

Duboc says it can cost between $2,000 and $5,000 to receive cognitive behavioural therapy from a psychologist – with BEACON, a full year of treatment costs just $500.

He says the entire platform is cost-effective, and lowers average treatment fees by 80 per cent.

“One of the things we also hear often – is people love that they don’t have to go to an office, or a student counselling centre to receive help. They like that they can maintain their privacy, and do it on their own. We track outcomes rigorously – and our current satisfaction levels for our platform AND our therapists are above 90 per cent.”

BEACON officially launched in October, and comes out of the largest private psychology practice on Ontario – CBT Associates.

“Laurier was an early adopter – as was Manulife and Deloitte. So now we’re just rolling out BEACON to other people, and having more conversations.”

BEACON will be available nation-wide by July. Individuals can sign up today, by clicking here.