In Nigeria, as well as the rest of Africa, there is an ever-increasing mental health crisis. According to a 2016 study published in the Annals of Nigerian Medicine (ANM), between 20 and 30 percent of Nigerians suffer from mental illnesses. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that this number is around 50 million people, or roughly a quarter of the population, in 2017.
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Nguvu Health, an online therapy platform, is looking to apply its technology in the fight against mental illness. The startup, which bills itself as an e-mental health company, has officially launched its mental health care service across Africa, to provide on-demand online therapy sessions to Africans anywhere in the world.
Founded by Joshua Koya (CEO) and Tolulope Ogunjuyigbe, the startup currently has over 26 therapists on board, and recruitment for 50 more is underway. The originators hope to have onboarded 1000 therapists by the end of 2021.
In addition to the rising mental health problem in Africa, patients also have to deal with the stigma associated with mental health disorders. Speaking in an interview with Tech Next, Joshua revealed the policies they’ve put in place to protect patients:
“Users can not take screenshots of any part of the android app. This is to curb the ‘screenshot’ rave. Also, there’s a phone security lock required to access the app each time you want to use it. Also, as part of our onboarding process, our therapists sign an NDA to cater for the security of clients’ information and sessions.”
He also mentioned that the company is working on an anonymity feature that will keep therapists from knowing who they are communicating with unless the client chooses to divulge his identity. The corporation also wants to run or finance outreach and advocacy campaigns to help de-sensitize the public.
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How To Book A Therapist On Nguvu Health
Users will need to fill a short examination to be matched with a mental health expert. The platform currently has more than 1,000 users. In addition to its 26 therapists, the startup plans to recruit a lot more people from all around Africa. Before joining the panel of therapists, these mental health specialists first go through a rigorous vetting process, says Joshua.
Nguvu Health connects users with certified mental health specialists via two methods: in-app texting, sometimes known as text therapy, and video calls, also known as video therapy. Both English and Swahili can be used in the sessions.
The startup charges a flat fee of $10 (N3,000 in Nigeria) for users to get access to a week’s subscription of text treatment or 45 minutes of video therapy. There are also monthly and quarterly subscriptions available.
If a patient needs additional support beyond psychotherapy, they will be referred to such centres on the therapist’s recommendation.
Featured Image Source: Disrupt Africa
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