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Facilitating Access to Therapy

By Sondos Mleitat

Hakini (“tell me” in Arabic) is an online therapy platform that offers guidance, self-help, and teletherapy in the Arabic language to increase accessibility to mental health care in the Arab world. Hakini’s website and mobile application remotely connect and match users to therapists who provide confidential care and guide users towards self-help intervention and evidence-based exercises.

In 2020, Hakini started building its online platform to facilitate access to therapy in Palestine. Publishing content that is adapted to Arab culture and addresses topics related to mental health, therapy, and well-being, it targets beneficiaries from various backgrounds, including parents, children, students, women, and others. In addition, the platform began to provide therapy support both through online one-on-one sessions,  connecting therapists with targeted beneficiaries, and through workshops that aim to raise awareness and provide practical tools to deal with common psychological challenges. So far, the Hakini team has provided support to hundreds of Palestinians, and Hakini’s content has reached hundreds of thousands of people.

Hakini was founded to help overcome the prevailing difficulties people face when they try to access psychotherapy in Palestine. While there is an online market that provides such support, and therapists can be seen in person at clinics, these places are difficult to access. Moreover, they do not provide sufficient information to help clients choose their therapist and are not well organized, expensive when long-term therapy is appropriate and needed, and inefficient for short-term consultations.

Arab countries suffer from a lack of resources regarding mental health content in general and emotional and mental well-being for children in particular. Parents, care providers, teachers, and others who work with children do not have access to mental health content that can guide their work with children when dealing with common mental health challenges and striving to maintain, improve, and sustain their mental and emotional well-being.

Hakini addresses this problem by creating content that deals with children’s mental and emotional well-being and is written by Arab mental health professionals and adapted to Arab culture. This content is published on Hakini’s blog and social media channels through articles, videos, podcasts, infographics, and traditional posts. In this way, Hakini is able to increase access to mental health content at a large scale and reaches many beneficiaries, including parents, care providers, teenagers, teachers, and others.

So far, the Hakini team has published more than 300 content units that have reached more than 800K beneficiaries. Forty percent of this content addresses mental health topics relevant for children and parents, aiming to raise awareness about common challenges that tend to be faced on a daily basis. Currently, the Hakini team is looking for strategic partners to enrich this content and publish it more widely to make it available for a larger audience.

In addition, Hakini offers online therapy sessions through a network of licensed and highly qualified therapists with extensive experience in providing therapy and support for children and teenagers. Until now, Hakini has provided more than 600 online therapy sessions for more than 130 beneficiaries in two different pilot programs. It should be noted that most of these beneficiaries were parents or mothers looking to gain parenting skills and tools through therapy support and counseling.

In these pilot programs, the Hakini team realized that many people commit to short-term support when starting their therapy journey, mainly because long-term support is expensive. To tackle this issue and make therapy and support more efficient, Hakini has begun to provide guidance for self-help intervention. This is a technological feature through which we offer exercises, tips, videos, podcasts, and other interactive educational material that allows parents and children to access tools and learn skills that can help them maintain their mental well-being without the need of scheduling many one-on-one sessions with a human therapist.

Hakini will continue to increase its impact and improve the lives and well-being of children in Arab countries. During the recent attack on Gaza, many Gazans, including youth and parents, began to reach out to Hakini, asking for mental health and psychological support to help them get back to their lives and improve their mental well-being. The Hakini team started offering free therapy sessions for people in Gaza, focusing on work with parents who have children who have been mentally affected by these attacks.

UNICEF-SoP/2021/Anas ElBaba.

  • Sondos Mleitat is the co-founder and co-CEO of Hakini. She is a social activist, entrepreneur, and board member at Madarat Center for community development. Sondos has a bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering from Birzeit University, is a certified associate in project management (CAPM), and has participated in various entrepreneurship programs in Palestine and abroad. Her passion for helping emerging communities is what drives her to persevere in efforts to make an impact in her society and around the world.

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