These startups aim to combat mental illness early on, and break the stigma surrounding itNeha Jain
Mental health is a serious concern worldwide and India is not far behind. The illness is often unseen, and many times misunderstood.
India, which is currently home to a population of over one billion citizens, is facing a serious mental health crisis. A study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2015 shows that one in five Indians may suffer from depression in their lifetime, which is equivalent to 200 million people. According to this report, only 10-12 percent seek help due to the stigma associated with the illness, and also due to lack of awareness and limited access to professional help.
Witnessing the nature of the problem, many startups have taken the plunge to help people overcome the illness. YourStory lists a few startups that are making a difference in the initial stages of the illness.
YOURDost - Founded by IIT-ian Richa Singh in 2014, YOURDost connects individuals in need with experts like psychologists, life coaches, and psychiatrists. From balancing relationships to productivity, the ability to deal with societal, peer, and parental pressure, the company provides counselling and helps on diverse topics through its online platform.
The online platform has raised $400,000 in angel rounds from Phanindra Sama (Redbus Founder), Aprameya Radhakrishna (TaxiForSure Founder), Aneesh Reddy (Capillary Founder) and many seasoned investors like Sanjay Anandaram (Seedfund), and Venk Krishnan (NuVentures). In 2016, they raised pre-series A from SAIF Partners – a total of $1.2 million.
Better LYF - Set up in 2016 by ISB graduate Vikram Beri, Better LYF provides a 24/7 helpline for stress and anxiety-related concerns. The startup has over 11 counsellors, and all the calls/chats are conducted by certified psychologists. The helpline supports people through difficult life transitions like breakups, marital concerns, academics and even the social anxiety of moving into a new city or country.
Once the user visits the website, he/she is provided with two options – chat or call, and the first service/talk is free. The time duration of calls depends from case-to-case, and is based on the user’s subscription.
Zyego - Started by Arindam Sen in 2016, Zyego is as an emotional wellness management service for individuals and organisations. It is a preventive system that helps root-out small emotional and psychological issues at inception and prevents it from becoming a serious disorder in the future.
To provide easy access to its counsellors, the bootstrapped startup has a mobile app, which works like a messenger. Users can connect via call or chat from anywhere in India. Zyego tries to get the user to the same therapist each time but does not guarantee the same.
TrustCircle - TrustCircle believes in being a preventive, participatory, and predictive platform. Founded by Sachin Chaudary in 2015, its most remarkable offering is a mobile test called the MHealth Test that users can access anonymously and free of cost.
MHealth Tests are clinically validated. They are standard and globally-accepted tests to determine the level of depression, anxiety, stress, substance addiction, and others. It has been used worldwide in psychiatry and psychology departments for about 40 years now.
This platform was recognised by WHO, and later became the first mental health app in Africa. TrustCircle also received recognition at the International Digital Health Congress in Paris last year for ‘changing the game’ in mental healthcare.
Seraniti - Started in March 2016 by Dr Shyam Bhat, Seraniti leverages technology to provide high quality empathic, effective counselling and psychotherapy services through an online platform to help people tackle stress and its detrimental effects. Seraniti caters to clients predominantly between the ages of 25-45, split equally between men and women. It has clients all across the globe. As therapists abroad don’t share a similar cultural background, the Indian diaspora forms a major part of their clientele. It has also received an undisclosed amount of angel funding from Ashwin Naik, founder of Vaatsalya Healthcare.
Besides, there are also non-profit organisations like The Live Love Laugh Foundation, and the White Swan Foundation, which aims to increase mental health awareness and reduce the stigma, with a focus on stress, anxiety and depression.
It is important to sensitise and educate individuals about the signs and symptoms of mental illness, while normalising the idea of seeking support for themselves and their loved ones.