Healthtech startup, Berry Health, has raised $1.6 million in a pre-seed round to mitigate stigma in Africa, starting with Ghana.
Lightspeed Ventures and General Catalyst co-led the round with participation from Jen Wong, Demetri Karagas, Steven Gutentag, Betsy Zimmerman, and Regina Benjamin.
Launched by Fredua Akosa, Berry Health says it is “bringing judgment-free health care in a 21st-century way in a continent where stigma cuts deeper and is affecting so many lives.”
Why does it matter? It’s no news that Africa still struggles with the stigma associated with mental illness and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV/AIDS.
For instance, Ghana frequently stigmatises and fears those with mental illnesses. So, most would prefer to go unacknowledged than be called "crazy."
However, addressing the issue is crucial because studies have shown that stigmatising people with mental illnesses increases guilt, resentment, and low self-esteem while preventing access to care.
Consequently, mental healthtech startups in Africa are making strides in challenging the stigma surrounding mental health and promoting greater acceptance and understanding.
Although the elimination of stigma is a challenging and ongoing process, these startups have made a significant contribution to starting discussions, increasing awareness, and removing obstacles to receiving mental health care.
And now, Berry Health, beginning with customers from Ghana, plans to offer remote diagnosis for mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, and sexual health conditions, dermatology, and hair loss.
It combines in-person and telemedicine consultations.
The company focuses on eradicating stigma, creating a welcoming environment for people seeking care, and ensuring they do not feel condemned or guilty for doing so.
Customers can use the platform to speak with a licensed medical professional or clinical psychologist, receive a personalised treatment plan tailored to their conditions, and then have medications delivered.
What's more, the subscription-based platform intends to charge users GH₵299 ($26) annually to access its services and $5 for each physician consultation.