While several trials have shown that effective treatments exists for mental disorders, the treatment gap in mental health care remains pervasive. This is primarily due to the social stigma and rejection, ridicule and discrimination attached to mental illnesses which makes it difficult for victims to speak up or share their struggles.
However, one possible way for improving mental health care services is to deliver them via the Internet. Online-based mental health services have the potential to address the unmet needs for mental health care and has been found to be quite easily accessible at every point in time.
Shezlong is an online healthcare site founded in 2014 by Ahmed Abu Elhaz, an engineer and Mohammad ElShami, a psychiatrist and it basically operates in Cairo, Egypt.
It is the First Online Psychotherapy Platform in the region and their major aim is to address the stigma in North Africa surrounding mental health issues.
Shezlong enables users to find and speak to licensed psychiatry therapists through its web-based platform. The users can book 30 minutes or one hour long sessions anonymously with these certified therapists to have a conversation with them through Shezlong’s chat or video conference. A thirty-minute session could cost anywhere between $20 to $75.
The startup currently has over 200 professionals listed on their platform who come from more than 20 different countries and speak 7 different languages. Its services have been used by over 20,000 people from more than 50 countries.
While it has been around for a few years, Shezlong had a very strong 2018, as they were able to raise US$350,000 funding; accepted onto the 500 tattoos accelerator and also selected to pitch at the annual Africa Early Stage Investor Summit. Shezlong is actively using 64 technologies for its website. These includes Viewport Meta, IPhone/Mobile Compatible, and SPF.
In an interview with MENAbytes, Ahmed Abu Elhaz, the CEO and cofounder of Shezlong stated, “we plan to use the investment to further expand our services in the Gulf and continue the development of new products including SMS-based therapy service that will be launched soon”
The social issue being addressed by Shezlong is a very applaudable one and they constantly come up with exciting developments as they progress with this e-health innovation in Africa.