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Althea Therapy announced as winner of BEBC Society's $25K Black Pitch Contest

Founder Micheline Khan's company helps people get access to culturally responsible mental health professionals and resources.

Althea Therapy announced as winner of BEBC Society's $25K Black Pitch Contest
Micheline Khan, the founder of Althea Therapy, a digital service that connects Black entrepreneurs and employers to mental health services, especially for racialized communities, is pictured here. Khan was announced winner of the BEBC Society's Black Pitch Contest and took home $25,000 for the effort. LINKEDIN PHOTO

Althea Therapy has been announced as the winner of the Black Pitch Contest, a $25,000 competition hosted by the BEBC Society.

Founder Micheline Khan’s business was chosen from a group of 15 Black entrepreneurs who all vied valiantly for the contest’s top prize. But in the end, the panel of nine judges chose her company above the rest.

“I’m so grateful for the opportunity and also so grateful to have done this competition with every pitcher (that presented),” Khan said immediately after her win. “You’re all doing such amazing work, and I cannot wait to have an opportunity to contribute to that work and be a part of it.

“Thank you to the judges and the BEBC,” she added.

Founder and CEO of the BEBC Society Jackee Kasandy said that while it was difficult to choose from the talented pool of Black entrepreneurs, Althea Therapy shined through. She expressed her appreciation for the work the service provides.

“You’re so great and I can’t wait to see how much greater you become,” Kasandy said during the announcement at the closing of the 2023 Black Business Summit.

“You’ve done an amazing thing, and everyone is watching. We get to be a part of your journey and success, and that’s just such an honour.”

Kasandy added that the BEBC Society hopes to give out more than one Pitch Contest award at future Black Business Summit events, but pledged to help the other contestants reach the next level this year instead.

Companies Vaster, led by Deress Asghedom; South Central Greens, founded by Mwenda Dyck; Textured Hair EDU, run by T’kehya Prentice-Cupid; and Archer Therapy, headed by David Archer, rounded out the Top 5 finalists.

The judges included Eric Pilgrim (Black Entrepreneurs & Businesses of Canada Society), Crystal Lo (InBC Investment Corp.), Gelila Mast (TD Bank), Pamela Rosiclair (Futurpreneur Canada), Peter Mwariga (Turning Point Youth Services), and Melanie Ewan (Volition).

See the complete list of participants here.

Breaking the stigma one Black mind at a time

Althea Therapy helps people get access to culturally responsible mental health professionals and resources to reduce disparities in communities of colour and destigmatize therapy. The service aims to bridge the gap between mental health services for racialized groups, especially during the pandemic when Black business owners and community members found it difficult to access a therapist.

“Since the pandemic, there has been a rise in depression, anxiety, and suicide across the board, with higher rates among communities of colour,” Khan explained during her pitch video to virtual audiences and judges.

“A recent survey found that 60 per cent of Black Canadians were more than likely to use mental health services if they had a Black therapist.”

Using the opportunity to provide these services, Khan soft launched the company in April 2021. Now, the platform has more than 50 clinicians who are come from Black, Indigenous, and racialized communities, and its app has over 600 users.

She explains that through its user survey, you can find the services you’re looking for using its app. Once you find a professional, you send a direct message to the clinician to request a session, and in the meantime, the app is filled with coping resources and tools for mental health for users to scan.

“Based on our user surveys, we found that our community wanted more support from employers and over 60 per cent were trying therapy for the first time,” Khan explained during the pitch.

As a result, Althea Therapy is currently working to develop a program with licensed therapists for employers to use with their employees. The company is designing modules that will soon be available to employers in the spring.

“We’re going to reinvent mental health support, where diverse employers can see tremendous savings in mental health claims and provide the necessary support to underserved communities to elevate their lived identities.

“Employees need support that’s inclusive, anti-oppressive, and science fact,” she concluded.