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Health services are currently preoccupied with COVID-19. But if your mental health is suffering, where can you go? Joel Muise, owner of Tranquility, pivoted his online therapy platform counselling app to help support those struggling with the mental health effects of the pandemic. He kept true to his core mission and found an even larger customer base; one that needed his services during these challenging times.
“As soon as it became apparent that COVID-19 was going to turn into a global pandemic, we quickly realized that because we had a virtual mental health platform we should be part of the solution.” – Joel Muise, owner of Tranquility.
When the pandemic struck, we all had more questions than the world had answers. This gap has since increased in many ways, and with it, the amount of anxiety felt by all Canadians. Combine that with the reality that we’re largely forced to be alone, without our friends and family by our side, and you have an unmanageable amount of stress. That’s why Joel Muise, owner of Nova Scotia’s online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy service for stress and anxiety, Tranquility, decided to change his business model to help Canadians cope right now.
When social distancing protocols were announced, he knew Tranquility could help because the platform provides virtual help for mental health. Muise says, “We quickly made some changes to our platform to address what people may be going through right now (e.g., health related anxiety, social anxiety, financial distress) and then started to reach out to organizations to see how we can support our healthcare and frontline workers, free of charge.” He then marketed his new offering so people could find help during this challenging time.
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Mental health startup Tranquility Online is collaborating with a Halifax charity, Partners For Care, to provide free services to healthcare workers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Founded in 2017, Tranquility’s website and app offer an automated, digital version of cognitive behavioral therapy—a form of psychotherapy designed to cultivate self-awareness and short-circuit harmful patterns of thought.
The alliance with Partners For Care, which raises money for patients at the QEII Health Sciences Centre, comes after Tranquility Online closed a $400,000 round of equity funding.
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Tranquility Online is an online application those with anxiety can use to manage their symptoms. And it all started with one Facebook post its Halifax co-founder and CEO wrote in 2016.
Joel Muise was first diagnosed with general anxiety and depression in his last year of high school. He was working as a stock analyst when he wrote that post in 2016. There he shared his story of living with anxiety. Immediately, he got a response from a friend who saw themselves in Muise’s story.
“I was really surprised by his response,” Muise says. “If that was the response I got from him, I thought I should share the whole story. In 48 hours, 4,000 people had read and shared it.”]]>
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The Volta Cohort program awarded a total of $150,000 to six companies on Wednesday night, handing out an extra $25,000 bundle due to the strength of the pitches.
In its third pitching event, the Volta Cohort advertised that it would invest as much as $25,000 to as many as five companies, but it added a bonus investment to a sixth company at the event. Volta Labs, the Halifax startup house, organizes the event to help out early-stage companies that need their first equity investment to help them reach the market.
Thirteen companies pitched at the event, and the winners were:
Aurea Technologies (Halifax)
Byos Cybersecurity (Halifax)
iLokol Technologies (Halifax)
Milk Moovement (St John’s)
Neothermal Energy Storage Inc. (Bridgewater, NS)
Tranquility Online (Halifax) – Tranquility offers an online, Software-as-a-Service solution that uses the gold standard therapy approach for anxiety: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT. Tranquility’s interactive CBT software was built by experts and can also be accompanied by coaching from real people, who will be trained with an internally developed training protocol. The company recently launched a $1400-a-month pilot project with Volta-resident entrepreneurs.]]>
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After taking his online treatment for anxiety through an initial pilot, Joel Muise is now working with those at the coalface of anxiety—entrepreneurs—before launching TranquilityOnline to the general public in the new year.
TranquilityOnline aims to make getting treatment for anxiety affordable and timely by allowing users to access online support through a coach rather than a therapist. Coaches use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT, to show sufferers how to shift negative thought patterns to balanced ones, and how to face challenges rather than avoid them.
Muise said the new paid pilot with Halifax’s Volta Labs startup house will allow Tranquility to work with seven entrepreneurs over six months. Volta will pay Tranquility $1,400 each month — money which will go toward covering the costs associated with launching to the general public in the new year.
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Over the last several years, the topic of mental health has come to the forefront. What was once as a topic veiled in shame and secrecy is not being discussed openly, and for the better.
Whether it’s in the workplace, educational institutions, or at alone at home, businesses and startups worldwide are introducing products and services to help improve mental wellness, some of those startups are in Atlantic Canada.
Here is a look at just five of them:
New Brunswick’s WellTrack provides mental health software for post-secondary students. The software allows students to monitor their moods and progress and to get the right help they need. Features include guided therapy for stress, anxiety and depression; Virtual Zen room; securing sharing with councillors and more.
WellTrack has been hard at work over the last few years. In February last year, they were accepted into 500 Startups’ 20th batch of companies. Their customers now include Boston College, Georgia State University, Memorial University, University of California Santa Cruz and Ryerson University.
Fredericton’s Refram Games is on a mission to create games and applications for tackling real-world social issues in a fun and enlightening way.
The first game they hope will do this is Guide, which focuses on empathy to help kids tackle anxiety issues. The game follows the story of Fia, a baby phoenix chick lost and alone in a dark forest. Players help Fia to escape these woods by encouraging her to face her fear of the forest’s shadows. By doing this, the aim is to help both Fia and the users to acknowledge “the fire that they always had within.”
As recently reported by Entrevestor, the company is in the process of getting the data it needs to assess whether its new video game is effective in helping children cope with anxiety issues.
Formerly ADDtext, Halifax-based ADDvocacy offers support for youth and adults who live with ADHD, Learning Disabilities, Autism, Anxiety and other occurring conditions that impact executive functioning as they transition to post-secondary, career exploration and/or entrepreneurship. ADDvocacy’s employs certified “strADDegists” who coach clients using various communication channels, including SMS/MMS.
CEO Keith Gelhorn tells Huddle that business is up over 350 per cent from this time last year and on track to hit 500 per cent growth by October.
Wear Your Label
Founded in Fredericton in 2014, Wear Your Label is a clothing company on a mission to eliminate the stigma around mental health. The company has gone through some challenges over the last year, but with co-founder Kyle McNevin rejoining the company as CEO back in May, the company appears to have a promising future.
Back in July, the company announced a new partnership with Hudson’s Bay Company, one of the largest retailers in North America, for its new #TheFutureisStigmaFree t-shirt campaign. In an interview with Huddle at the time, McNevin says the company was planning some new partnerships for the fall.
“This is just the beginning. The next several months will reveal a lot about the improvements we are making,” said MacNevin. “For now, we are focusing on making a great product and strengthening our supply chain and infrastructure to ensure the company is ready for bigger and more meaningful partnerships.”
Based in Halifax, Tranquility offers an online platform that leverages Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to deliver knowledge and skills to help users suffering from different types of anxiety.
The company is founded by Joel Muise, a chartered financial analyst and mental health advocate and Rebecca Tucker, a Clinical Psychology PHD student at Dalhousie University.
Tranquility is a subscription-based service and offers self-help, group and one-on-one coaching options starting at $49.99 a month. The company is currently offering 7-day free trials of its services.