Mental health on her mind, this woman entrepreneur went online to help people amid COVID-19 pandemic

Psychological therapist and entrepreneur Leanne Rose Pais launched Bengaluru-based The Unopened Box in 2020 to help people deal with their mental health, and heal and empower themselves.
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Barring a few celebrities who spoke about it, mental health remained largely ignored in India. 

Till now. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated awareness about mental health and helped bring it into the mainstream. 

Psychological therapist and entrepreneur Leanne Rose Pais is doing her bit to raise awareness, break the stigma, and - most importantly - help people heal and empower themselves. Coming from a family of doctors, Leanne says she realised her calling to become a psychological therapist when she was just 13 years of age.

 Leanne Rose Pais, Founder, The Unopened Box [Image Credit: The Unopened Box]

Leanne, a trauma care specialist, has done extensive training in art therapy and inner child work. She has been running her psychological therapy practice for over six and a half years.  

Last year, amidst the pandemic, she took her practice online and launched The Unopened Box on Instagram.

Bengaluru-based Leanne explains that The Unopened Box aims to offer quality mental health services from trained and qualified professional therapists, online and offline. 

“I am here to help you empower yourself,” she says, adding that the idea is to create “safe, warm, and supportive spaces” inside and outside the therapy room for clients. 

Early journey

Leanne, India’s youngest RISE-UP qualified professional supervisor, decided to found The Unopened Box in 2020 after her clients sought her guidance online amid the pandemic.

One can get in touch with her for therapy sessions through the official Instagram page. She also shares tips to maintain mental health and offers coping mechanism guidance through the social platform.   

She says that The Unopened Box saw increased interest amid the pandemic. “There was a sudden inflow of clients after the pandemic started because many were unsure of how to deal with uncertainty, how to be by themselves, how to set boundaries with work and family - and find a balance that made them feel secure,” she says.

Leanne says clients already working with her from pre-pandemic times seemed to deal with the crisis better because they were already aware of the need for self-care in their everyday lives.

Illustration: YS Design

Empowering people

The founder says she works with clients across age groups – “from five years old to 85 years old”. 

“But millennials form a chunk of my clientele. We are getting a lot of younger clients now, which is great as families are more aware of the need for therapy. I think the reason why millennials come in so much is that they want to break cycles.

"They want to bring change, be changed, and create change. Millennials bring their families into therapy as well, eventually bringing change in their lives as well,” she says. “Millennials are change-makers and seem most vocal about mental health.”

Speaking about her services, Leanne says The Unopened Box is bringing creativity into the process by offering a wide range of workshops, events, and a range of therapy options for individual, couple, family, and group sessions, conducted both online and offline. 

She adds that The Unopened Box will follow the online-offline hybrid model, and offer both options to clients across the globe. 

“At The Unopened Box, our therapists also go for therapy and supervision. We believe in offering quality in the best way possible, learning and honing our skillset, and doing continuous professional development,” Leanne says.

The way ahead

Leanne claims to have clients across India and from other countries, including the UAE, the UK, the US, Australia, Canada, Germany, Portugal, Ukraine, The Netherlands, and South Africa. 

The Unopened Box, incubated at IIM-Bangalore, has worked with over 2,200 clients to date. The founder adds that she has worked for more than 10,500 hours with individuals, couples, families, and groups in therapy. 

Speaking about business plans, she says, “We offer free and paid services to be as inclusive as possible. Our clients get to choose the services they want and we do our best to offer the best we can for our clients. We also offer free resources that people can use to identify and understand patterns, and change behaviours that may not be working for them.” 

To create a larger impact, Leanne is also training professional therapists and has completed more than 2,000 hours of teaching therapy, online and offline.

On future plans, she adds The Unopened Box aims to have a training programme in place in three years, and is already collaborating with people across the globe to develop a globally reputed module. 

“We are collaborating with people in the US and the UK to create a model of global standard. The training programme for therapists will include different aspects of my training and learning, and will help them to identify strengths and learn how to hone their skills further,” she adds.

According to a TBRC report, the Indian psychiatry market was valued at around $1.6 billion, accounting for 0.8 percent of the global share in 2019. Data from market research data provider ReportsnReports revealed that the behavioural or mental health software market size will reach $2.31 billion by 2022.  

Other notable players in the online mental healthcare space include Betterhelp, Talkspace, BetterLYF, and YourDOSTamong others.

“We make mental health progressive, creative, and innovative. We look at pushing boundaries on self-limiting beliefs, creating experiences, and taking mental health outside the therapy room. We work to break the stigma, create inclusivity and work with the community to create safe spaces. We call this our mental health revolution,” Leanne says.

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

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