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Egypt’s Shezlong gets fresh funds to expand its mental health platform

The startup says it has handled 10,000 cases in Arabic-speaking countries as well as in Europe and North America.

Courtesy of Shezlong via MENAbytes. Courtesy of Shezlong via MENAbytes.

Cairo-based mental health platform Shezlong has raised fresh funds, it said in a statement today without disclosing the size of the investment. The investment came from Asia Africa Investment Consulting (AAIC), a Singapore-based investor focused on healthcare startups in Africa.

The round was also joined by Mohamed El Khamissy, an investor of health and wellness startups across the Middle East, Europe, and the United States, as well as Cairo-based angel fund HIMangel.

Shezlong had previously raised USD 350,000 in a bridge round in 2018. It had also won a USD 100,000 grant from Expo 2020’s Innovation Impact Grant Program.

Founded in 2014 by Ahmed Abu Elhaz and Mohammad ElShami, Shezlong enables users to find and speak to licensed psychiatry therapists through its web-based platform. The users can book up to hour-long video or voice sessions with over 500 therapists. The users can choose not to share their identity with the therapists, and their details are kept private.

The startup claims to have received 10,000 cases from different countries including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Germany, and the United States since its inception. Shezlong said that it has over 100,000 registered users on its platform who follow up frequently with their therapists.

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It also offers free assessments to users to help them understand their mental health and identify psychological problems. The Egyptian startup said in a statement that it uses cognitive behavioral therapy, which teaches individuals how to manage stress and anxiety, and provides them with relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and positive self-talk. “It is the need of the hour, especially considering COVID-19 situation and the anxiety among individuals due to uncertainty and social distancing.”

Shezlong plans to use its latest funds to expand its services across the region as well as to Arabic-speaking populations all around the world, and to introduce new products including texting-based therapy and corporate wellness programs.

Ahmed Abu ElHaz, founder and CEO of Shezlong, said, “Mental health is important at every stage of life, and our mission in Shezlong is to help people manage their psychological and mental health at all times and make therapy accessible to everyone. The new investment will help us expand our services vertically and horizontally in the Middle East.”

Shigeru Handa, director of AAIC, said, “Your mind controls your health. Shezlong has great potential to help bring people back to good health through its platform with its privacy protection. We live in a stressful world with uncertainties such as COVID-19, which has led to increased psychological distress. We are excited to join Shezlong’s journey to address such mental health challenges.”

This article first appeared on MENAbytes.