A new startup called BreakThrough says it wants to use the web to help people overcome the barriers to getting psychiatric help.
The company, which demonstrated at the TechCrunch50 conference today in San Francisco, has created a site where people with mental illnesses can create anonymous accounts, then find professional therapists and schedule appointments with them. Those meetings can be conducted over Skype as either video or audio conversations — what BreakThrough calls telepsychiatry. Therapists can even prescribe medication after the sessions.
Chief executive Mark Goldenson, who is also a columnist for VentureBeat, says this overcomes many of the barriers preventing many people from getting the therapy that would help them. The anonymity reduces the social stigma of seeking therapy. The fact that you can schedule short Skype sessions helps reduce the cost. And the remote access makes it easier to talk to therapists, particularly for patients who live in rural areas that may not have any therapists.
Goldenson says that beyond therapy, BreakThrough could eventually be used for telemedicine and to help organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous hold truly anonymous group meetings.
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