Toronto-based Get A-Head, which provides an online mental health training and delivery platform, has been acquired by Vector Health Labs for $17 million.
According to Get A-Head, its integration into Vector Health will enable the latter to expand its offerings from telehealth and non-invasive lab testing to also include mental health support. The acquisition closed in late August this year.
Get A-Head has provided over 20,000 sessions to students in need of therapy since the beginning of the 2022 to 2023 academic year.
Founded by Ahad Bandealy, Get A-Head offers a SaaS platform that provides educational institutions, practicing clinical therapists, and corporations with the digital infrastructure to deliver and manage mental health services for their students, members, and employees.
Born to immigrant parents in New York, Bandealy moved to Canada in 2009 to pursue his PhD in behavioural health at the University of Toronto. While accumulating his clinical training hours, Bandealy said he recognized “glaring inefficiencies” within the clinical training system that negatively affected patient outcomes and emphasized the imbalance of supply and demand for accessible mental health care.
Bandealy then paused his own studies to work on a solution that aims to deliver improved mental health care to patients, while still prioritizing the training hours that mental health professionals require. That solution became Get A-Head, which Bandealy launched in 2019.
Get A-Head’s platform can be used in two ways: providing services to patients, and training psychology graduate students.
Get A-Head claims its AI-driven natural language processing technology can recognize patients’ linguistic patterns and word usage to provide key metrics on rapport, authenticity, and cognitive processing. The startup said this helps supervising professors teach graduate student trainees how to develop a more empathetic tone with their patients, while “zeroing in on specific therapeutic areas of need.”
The ministry of colleges and universities recently implemented Get A-Head’s technology in all post-secondary institutions in Ontario after a successful pilot at the University of Waterloo in 2020.
Get A-Head said that the need for mental health care has increased dramatically over the last several years, and in certain jurisdictions like Ontario, the supply of qualified professionals falls short of the demand. According to the startup, it has provided over 20,000 sessions to students in need of therapy since the beginning of the 2022 to 2023 academic year.
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This year’s National College Health Assessment found that the total rates of anxiety and depression have increased from 2019. The survey also reported that there is interest among students in seeking out support, with nearly 80 percent of respondents saying they would consider reaching out to a mental health professional. However, Get A-Head said there is an imbalance of supply and demand for qualified care.
“In a post-pandemic context where demand for psychological services has increased, creativity and ingenuity are needed to expand access to care and support the training needs of the mental health workforce,” said Dr. Chris Mushquash, psychology professor at Lakehead University.
Mushquash, who also serves as board director at the Ontario Psychological Association, added that Get A-Head’s ability to support the mental health needs of the post-secondary student population, while simultaneously helping graduate students fulfill their training requirements is “transformative.”
Now under Vector Health, Get A-Head said it will scale its platform’s offerings beyond Ontario, both across Canada and the United States. It also plans to work with at-risk populations, Veteran Affairs, and first responders by adding new language capabilities. Additionally, Get A-Head wants to push to add the platform to the employee benefits programs in Canada.
Bandealy will continue to lead Get A-Head with the role of CEO as well as chief digital officer of Vector Health.
Vector Health is a Canadian healthtech and service delivery company. It is the owner and operator of a licensed Ontario laboratory, as well as Tulip Health, a virtual platform that offers virtual appointments to Ontario residents. Including Bandealy, there are seven full-time employees at Get A-Head who all have joined Vector Health.
A spokesperson for Vector Health told BetaKit that over time, the Get A-Head platform will be integrated into one seamless dashboard along with Vector Health’s other healthcare offerings.
Featured image courtesy Get A-Head.