Arts & Science Alumni Develop Equity-Focused Therapy Platform
Two Arts & Science graduates and a U of T PhD student have launched Mind-Easy to make cultural competence a minimum standard in mental health — including innovative ways to deliver identity centric preventive care.
“Available to anyone around the world, the Mind-Easy app is an adaptive health platform that uses avatars with human-like characteristics that help guide users through their therapeutic journey,” explains Mind-Easy co-founder and CTO Akanksha Shelat, who graduated in 2018 with an honours bachelor of science as a member of New College. “This platform is designed to provide personalized, adaptive care to patients, using a proprietary human taxonomy and artificial intelligence to deliver tailored mental health plans.”
A&S alumni Shelat and Alexandra Assouad, along with Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) PhD candidate Dalia Ahmed, developed and launched Mind-Easy, drawing from their own experiences seeking mental health services as international students.
“Cultural competence is essential when providing proper mental health care,” says Mind-Easy CEO Assouad, who graduated with a bachelor of commerce from Rotman Commerce in 2018 as a member of St. Michael’s College.
“Coming to Toronto from Lebanon sparked internal chaos and filled me with an overwhelming sense of loneliness,” she says. “I wanted a therapist who spoke my language, a person who ethnically represents me and allows me to share vulnerable experiences.”
In consultation with mental health professionals across the country, Mind-Easy provides knowledge and tools in more than 100 languages, dialects and accents. Asynchronous learning makes them available on demand. Leveraging the OISE and psychology network at U of T, the team built a database of carefully curated content for Canada’s diverse and often marginalized groups.