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Pierre L. Morrissette Institute for Entrepreneurship

Supports Health: A big venture inspired by personal pain

  • Shanthal Perera
  • |
  • Jul 31, 2018
Supports Health: A big venture inspired by personal pain

Despite the growing visibility and acceptance of mental health issues, the family or friends who provide a bulk of the support to those struggling with depression and anxiety appear to be forgotten by the healthcare system. Who is providing them with the support and education to be effective in their role and safeguard their own wellbeing? The answer is very few. Morgan Rosenberg, an HBA ’15 and participant in NEXT Canada’s “NEXT 36” program, is striving to change that with his venture, Supports Health.

In 2015, life was falling into place for Morgan Rosenberg. He was months away from finishing his Ivey HBA and had met someone special.

However, he soon discovered that his partner was struggling with depression and anxiety. Out of the blue, Rosenberg had to transition to being her primary caregiver. With little support, education or training, Rosenberg’s health started to deteriorate and he developed depression himself.

It took him over a year to recover fully with professional help.  He soon realized that his ordeal was not a unique story to the millions family or friend caregivers who support loved ones suffering from depression and mental health issues. Statistics show that 36% of these caregivers develop some form of illness, usually depression. Many of them, like Rosenberg, are thrust into being a caregiver without warning, with little training or necessary support.

“It’s not just about being a caregiver, it’s about doing what you need to do for the person you love,” said Rosenberg.

A handheld a solution

Rosenberg was not satisfied with being a statistic in a system he believes is fundamentally broken. Armed with his first-hand experience, and an entrepreneurial background, he set out to find a solution to provide support to the millions of caregivers across Canada.

And thus Supports Health was born, a company exclusively focused on supporting caregivers of loved ones with mental illness.

The company’s first product is a mobile app, which will give information and professional advice for the family and friends of someone suffering from depression. Rosenberg is hoping to include AI curated context-specific resources, in some cases down to the city, and secure video counselling with professionals, which will be particularly helpful to caregivers in smaller communities where they have little support. Rosenberg explains “we’re bringing cutting-edge research in tech and mental health to give tailored support at a global scale”.

Supports Health will be focusing on direct B2C sales, which have proven successful with other mental health-focused mobile applications such as BetterHelp, Big White Wall and Canadian company BEACON. The app will be based on the popular subscription model, with pricing yet to be determined. Similar app subscriptions in Canada and the U.S. range anywhere between $70 to a $180 a month.

While the app will be designed specifically for a Canadian context, the lack of support is a global problem to the 300 million caregivers who’ve taken up the role to care for their loved ones with depression.

 

Building a business

Rosenberg and his team are currently in the development process of the actual app and are targeting a launch for this year. The current team includes three full-time summer staff and three contractors, all with a wide array of experience; from management consulting, and public relations to biochemistry. Rosenberg is also hoping to add a PhD student to continue strengthening their research on the topic. “We truly want to be a leader in caregiver support and the only way to do that is by increasing the body of research available,” said Rosenberg.

Much of their progress thus far has been made possible through the initial funding they raised, mostly in London, Ontario with the help of grants and government support. As they work towards the launch of the app, Rosenberg is hoping to secure a new round of seed funding from investors and alums interested in being part of the solution.

And while there’s growing opportunity in the mental health space overall, Rosenberg is clear on the problem they are trying to solve and it’s his personal connection and passion that elevates the venture.

“Personally, what has really helped me succeed is finding the problem that I really care about that no one is really tackling yet, and solving that. The first thing that we are going to be chasing down with all of our energy and empathy is really solving the problem for caregivers,” said Rosenberg.

And It's a problem worth chasing.

If you are an investor interested in learning more, a researcher interested in this space, or a family or friend supporting someone with depression, you can contact Morgan Rosenberg at morgan@supportshealth.com.

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  • Entrepreneurship