Ellen Line is a therapist determined to offer accessible mental health care. In 2022, the Baltimore, Maryland, professional launched ROAR Wellness Co.mmunity, a private, moderated, online community where individuals can access care on a pay-what-you-can basis. Through a library of mental health resources and weekly contemplative prompts, as well as frequent live workshops and ongoing support groups, Line hopes her virtual clinic will effectively bridge the gap between her clients and costly, one-on-one therapy sessions that many cannot afford.
Here’s our lightly edited Q&A, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project.
How is your business different from others in your industry?
I haven’t seen another online community run by a mental health professional that’s aimed at increasing access to healing and growth experiences. An online community is not a new idea, but I see them mostly organized around supporting artists, unifying members of different professions, and specific skill-building exercises. And I think many other therapists focus on individual or small group therapy – if they offer something outside of that, it’s most often a book or workshop.
Tell us about your biggest success so far.
Exceeding our new-member goal at launch, resulting in enough cash flow to cover the cost of hosting and managing the community.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
Sustaining engagement. I’m still figuring out how to address it! I’ve tried modeling the sort of habits I’d like to see, personalizing invites to events, scheduling more live events in general, sending out a monthly email digest, and offering incentives for engagement. Part of my current strategy involves trying to assess the specific ways folks are getting value from what I offer, and then creating programs and products around that.
Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?
At the end of 2020, I became really sick due to a ruptured appendix. I ended up needing over six months of follow-up care. I was self-employed at the time, and that prompted a lot of big existential questions around security, and caring for myself as well as my business. I started to think a lot more strategically about sustainability, scalability and finances. I started saving for retirement, looking into disability insurance, and restructuring parts of my business so that I could earn more and work less. Because of that, my individual therapy services became less financially accessible than they used to be. ROAR Wellness Co.mmunity balances that out by being a more financially accessible option.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
It’s your business, so it should work for you. It’s not selfish to make decisions that are the best for you – even if it’s not what everyone says you “should” do.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
I feel really lucky to do the work that I do, and the folks I work with inspire me to show up. It is an honor to accompany ROAR Wellness Co.mmunity members, and other clients I work with, on their healing journeys, knowing that they are getting healthier, stronger, and wiser as a result of our work together.
What is your go-to song to get motivated on tough days?
“Soulmate” by Lizzo.
Who is your most important role model?
As a therapist, I really admire therapist and speaker Yolanda Renteria. I’m inspired by the way she communicates complex mental-health concepts and creates access to high-quality resources.
And as an entrepreneur …This is going to sound cheesy, but my most important role model is my dad. He had his own business when I was growing up, and while we’re in wildly different fields, what feels similar is the scrappiness, creativity, and our willingness to “DIY” until we find an ideal solution. ◼