Arts & Culture

Zencare expands therapist matching service to Boston

Alum-founded start-up connects over 500 students, adults to therapists, psychiatrists, dietitians

By
Contributing Writer
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
New startup, Zencare, launches soon in Boston to help connect university students with therapists, psychologists and dieticians in the local area and expedite the wait time to seek counseling and improve mental health.

New startup, Zencare, launches soon in Boston to help connect university students with therapists, psychologists and dieticians in the local area and expedite the wait time to seek counseling and improve mental health.

Zencare — a start-up founded by Yuri Tomikawa ’12 that aims to help college students find therapists, psychiatrists and dietitians — expanded past its Providence boundaries and into Boston last month.

In the past year, Zencare has connected over 500 individuals with psychiatrists, therapists and dietitians around the Providence area, Tomikawa said.

“We’re expanding to Boston because we heard such great feedback from users in Providence. Students and working adults who used the site, as well as therapists in our Providence community, had great experiences finding each other through Zencare,” Tomikawa wrote in an email to The Herald. “Most of our users learn about us through word of mouth. After a year of iteration, we wanted to bring our tools and services to Boston as well.”

In order to successfully launch in Boston, Zencare reached out to students and alums from Brown, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts University, Harvard, Boston University and Northeastern University to gather recommendations for Boston-based therapists for Zencare.

While the company is geographically expanding, it is also expanding its offerings by connecting students with dieticians to help those with eating disorders. It also offers a diverse community of therapists, including clinicians who have an understanding of LGBTQ-specific issues  and speak languages as varied as French, Spanish and Arabic — with Mandarin coming soon. Users can find support groups or make an appointment with certain clinicians within 24 business hours, Tomikawa said.

Today Zencare’s therapist community has increased from 15 to 70 in just over a year.

“College students are navigating the world for the first time without parents, (dealing with) anxieties about engaging in new social groups and … facing life choices that feel incredibly critical. All of these issues can result in the onset of depressive feelings and can deteriorate into a major depression,” wrote Stephanie Hartselle, medical advisor at Zencare, in an email to The Herald.

The University also eliminated the seven-session limit placed on the number of visits a student can make per year to Counselling and Psychological Services. “Since CAPS will continue to operate on a short-term model, it is important that students do not get lost during the off-campus referral process,” wrote Maggie Jordan ’16, therapist success manager at Zencare, in an email to The Herald.

Jordan added that most universities face the challenge of keeping wait times low for seeing therapists while ensuring urgent cases can be attended to promptly.