The bootstrapped company is looking to address psychological problems by providing easy access to a network of expert counsellors and therapists.
That mental health plays an important role in a person’s overall well-being is known. However, most people neglect this aspect of keeping healthy; sometimes it’s lack of awareness, and other times, a lack of access to help.
To bridge the gap between patients and counsellors, and provide easy access to therapists, Gurugram-based couple Ashutosh Pandey and Apurva Sharma set up Elate Wellbeing in 2018. The startup has a platform that provides counselling and support to improve psychological health.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 7.5 percent of Indians suffer from major or minor mental disorders. The global body also estimates that between 2012 and 2030, the Indian economy may incur a loss to the tune of over a trillion dollars due to mental health-related issues. Industry body Assocham claims 42.5 percent of corporate employees in India suffer from some form of depression.
Elate offers online and face-to-face psychotherapy including messaging therapies (consultations through online chat), guidance on mindful meditation, consultation, and therapies to help one sleep better.
“We saw that many people we knew were going through stress, anxiety, or other emotional issues. They were hesitant and not taking action to resolve those issues. We identified the reason for this as lack of authenticated and reliable sources of counselling, the stigma attached to such problems, and the lack of awareness about mental health issues,” says Ashutosh.
The company has tied up with 32 senior mental health experts to provide counselling, of which five are in-house experts that patients can seek help from. Its areas of expertise include child psychology, couple and marriage therapy, counselling for depression, anxiety, and work-related stress. It offers cognitive behavioural therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and acceptance and commitment therapy.
Before launching Elate, Apurva and Ashutosh completed certification courses in psychotherapy and meditation. Ashutosh is also a certified cognitive behavioural therapy coach. He has 15 years of work experience, and before launching Elate, was the CEO of Emergent Ventures, a clean-tech and environmental consulting firm. Apurva, 39, has worked in the human resource departments of several firms and had started a lifestyle business before Elate.
“We have a holistic approach towards well-being and our services are used by people who are facing mental health issues as well as anyone looking to enhance their general well-being,” adds Ashutosh.
Elate also conducts workshops for companies, among women’s groups, and for select groups of people. It also runs various online campaigns to increase awareness about mental issues. “People think that having any emotional distress will be considered a mental disorder, which might impact their professional and personal life. We are trying to solve this problem by providing easy access and a robust platform to seek counselling,” says Apurva.
She adds online counselling is as effective as face-to-face therapies to address depression, anxiety, etc. as it tends to be more convenient and affordable. The therapy drop-out rate is also low, she says.
Elate starts with seeking relevant background information about a patient. Then experts talk to patients and understand any symptoms. Therapy sessions are then designed on individual requirements. Each patient typically requires four to five sessions.
“Almost all our initial patients came due to word-of-mouth. We are focused on referrals from existing clients, social media, and collaborations with schools, companies, and other doctors,” says Apurva.
Elate conducts 10-12 therapies per day, and charges are based on the number of sessions, or kind of therapy a patient needs. Charges start from Rs 1,000 for a single session to Rs 50,000 for year-long counselling.
The founders claim that the startup has registered a tremendous growth of 100 percent month-on-month since it began operations.
Elate plans to raise funding in 2019 to build its technology platform and expand to other cities. Self-funded so far, the team aims to clock a revenue of Rs 3 crore by December 2019.
“We plan to expand to most of the large and medium-sized cities in north India by the end of 2018, followed with regional expansion in western and southern India in 2019 and 2020. In the future, we plan to cover other areas such as physical and social well-being, and we are in the process of adding services related to sleep therapies, mindfulness techniques, and healthy diet,” says Apurva.