With states across the U.S. mandating lockdowns, many small-business owners were forced to close their doors. Some managed to hold on during those difficult months while many shuttered altogether. Angela C. Brinson Ph.D. was one of the entrepreneurs who survived. As it turns out, she thrived.
Brinson is the founder of Miami Gardens, Fla.-based PsychEd Solutions, P.A., a community mental health center she started in 2008 that specializes in psychological evaluations and counseling for children, teens, and adults.
While the physical effects of the Covid-19 health crisis are clear, the pandemic-related lockdowns intensified mental health issues for countless numbers of people. Understandably, demand for PsychEd Solutions’ services soared. Relying mostly on telehealth services, Brinson says the business grew by more than 100 times during the pandemic.
“Students who were receiving special education services and mental health support in school were struggling at home with virtual learning,” Brinson explains.
“Many college students who weren’t able to return to campus were losing hope. Depression and substance use among this population was drastically increasing. Adults were no longer able to escape problematic relationships with themselves and their families by going to work or engaging in social activities. All in addition to dealing with the grief, loss, and uncertainty of Covid.”
Brinson’s success wasn’t simply a matter of increased demand, though. She implemented creative solutions that helped generate new clients, revenue, and helped ensure her long-term success.
Developing a plan
The news wasn’t all good for Brinson over this period. Her husband lost his job during the pandemic, and she faced mounting medical bills due to a battle with cancer. Brinson called her State Farm agent who she says was instrumental in helping her family navigate through the turbulence.
“When she called, we talked about what was important to her,” said Lakitsia Gaines, a State Farm Multiple Office Agent.
“First, I spent time understanding her vision, her short-term and long-term goals and priorities,” Gaines continued. She carefully reviewed Brinson’s business insurance to give her better coverage at a lower price.
“Once she realized the savings coupled with increased coverage, she purchased insurance through us for her personal car and home,” Gaines said.
“We’re now talking about retirement and college planning for her daughter.”
Launching an academic support academy
Unsure about when schools would reopen to in-person learning, Brinson decided to do something special for students with special learning needs. She and her partner, a special education specialist, came up with the Learning LabEdu Center, a program for students with various exceptionalities like ADHD and social-emotional problems who were struggling with virtual learning.
This year, students in the program are transported to the Lab after school to receive academic support, social-emotional learning activities, individual and group counseling, mindfulness techniques such as yoga and art therapies.
“We started with five students and by the end of the school year, we had 35 students,” Brinson says.
“We have also partnered with a physician to provide physicals, medication management, and disease management for children and their families.”
Creating an internship program for college students
Realizing that mental health students would have a difficult time graduating on time given the Covid-related restrictions, Brinson began reaching out to universities about creating internship opportunities for Masters- and Doctoral-level students in psychology, mental health, and counseling. Brinson says two schools partnered with PsychEd Solutions, with five students participating in 2020 and 16 so far this year.
“Becoming a sought-after training program has always been a part of the vision for PsychEd,” Brinson says.
“Our yearlong training program provides clinical rotations for students in the areas of general and neuropsychology, forensic psychology, holistic wellness including mindfulness techniques and art therapies.”
To get these programs off the ground, Brinson worked with Gaines to help her business get great insurance, including personal and business protection.
“Our State Farm agent understands small businesses, like PsychEd,” Brinson says.
“A number of issues can occur in our industry as we work with people from all walks of life. Our agent helped get us great coverage that protects us against the unexpected risks of doing business.”