Health is perhaps the one fortune that matters the most in the long run. While money comes and goes, ‘good health’ can never be a compromise. However, our understanding of what constitutes good health is often quite one-dimensional and focuses primarily on the physical. But there are a lot of mental health startups that are working hard to change the focus from just physical health to overall wellness.
Mental health refers to the emotional, psychological and social wellbeing of an individual, and it affects how one thinks, feels and acts. It also helps determine how we handle stress, and make important choices. Owing to a massive inadequacy in India’s mental health facilities and services, mental health startups have become the need of the hour.
Stigmatization of Mental Health
Over the course of one’s life, when a person experiences mental health problems, their thinking pattern, mood, and behaviour are affected. Our society adds to their misery by rejecting mental health as an imagined concept, adding injuries to open wounds. How many times have we heard the phrase, “Oh, it is just a phase, it is pass”, or “Depression is just a state of mind, think happy thoughts”?
Even when said with the best of intentions, such statements directly negate the fact that mental health issues are real diseases- they are diseases of the mind. And like any other disease, mental health issues require extensive treatment, both medicinal and therapeutic.
Societal stigmatization, especially in India, makes it very difficult for individuals to seek mental health aid. An October 2019 estimate puts the ratio of doctors to patients for mental health in India at 1:100000. This is a mortifying statistic. We have a severe shortage of mental health professionals as well as basic infrastructure to support treatment and connectivity.
Mental Health Startups & Apps to the Rescue
There is a rising consensus, especially among the youth of India, that mental health issues are real, medical diseases and that treatment for the same should be readily available for all. To rise to the occasion, several mental health startups have started cropping up all across India.
Mental health startups aim at increasing awareness about mental health, destigmatizing mental health issues, and providing services related to treatment and therapy. Mental health startups are essential because they have, at the very least, opened a real conversation about this societal taboo.
Owing to technological advancement, mental health professionals have been able to develop modern methods of administering therapy and treatment using unique delivery systems. Mobile applications are an easy and accessible tool that has been especially useful in monitoring mental health and dealing with triggers holistically yet effectively.
Mental health problems are common but help is available. It is necessary to understand that there is hope at the end of the tunnel, and individuals with mental health problems can get better and many recover completely.
Here are a few mental health startups and mobile apps that are gaining popularity:
1) Cure.Fit (Mind.Fit)
Cure.Fit is one of the leading fitness and wellbeing startups in India and is gaining huge popularity throughout the population.
They have multiple verticals to offer an overall fitness regime with Cure.Fit focusing on physical fitness and Mind.Fit focusing on mental wellness. They provide fitness lessons via live streams and also have several locations spread across metropolitan cities in India where they provide physical fitness services as well.
Their Mind.Fit venture is a mental fitness venture that includes activities like yoga and meditation to bring balance and peace to the state of mind of an individual.
2) Calm App
Calm is an application that assists its users with sleeping and meditation. The application has features that enable guided meditation and aim to reduce stress and anxiety through the use of soothing music and voiceovers.
This application was named the “iPhone App of the Year” in 2017 and is one of the most successful mental health apps worldwide.
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Fitternity is a fitness application that not only provides diet plans and fitness regimes on its website and application, it also allows the user to book physical sessions.
The application provides ample guidance for holistic improvement of the users’ mental health through detailed articles on the subject as well as diet recommendations and yoga sessions.
The overall idea is to improve the person’s health as a whole, mental and physical, and recognizing that the two are often co-dependent.
The consistent engagement with consumers and a deeper understanding of their needs led Fitternity to become extremely popular.
HeadSpace is another mental health app that makes use of soothing voiceovers, music and guided meditation to assist its user base. The app has several categories of audio that help with various aspects of mental health issues.
One of its most popular categories is the one on “Mindfulness”. There are multiple series’ of a similar nature, aiming to improve overall wellbeing.
With hundreds of hours of content, it is acknowledged as one of the most comprehensive secular programs for meditation and mindfulness. Its health application provides mindfulness and mental training through health videos and chats options, enabling users and companies to access free meditation sessions and mindfulness training.
Talkspace is an app whose main objective is to make therapy more accessible to those who either cannot afford it or who do not wish to seek face-to-face sessions with a therapist. It connects the users to over 3000 licensed therapists and helps them find their perfect match. Following this, the user can use the medium of text to speak openly and confidentially with the therapist.
With so many therapists available, you’ll likely find someone who is well-equipped to help you deal with almost every issue. And some of their treatment approaches include cognitive behavioural therapy, dialectical behavioural therapy, mindfulness, and psychodynamic therapy. Talkspace also offers specific services for teens and for couples.
The Wayforward app offers the same services one would receive if they physically went to a counsellor- only online. After registering, the user will be assigned a psychologist as a ‘guide’ or ‘coach’ for the sessions.
The Wayforward app has three broad categories for counselling services: work, relationships or performance. Depending upon the category selected, the user will be offered practical advice on how to tackle the situation. Users are also given homework by the guide to work upon before the next session. Based on this, the app helps you track your progress.
The TalkLife app functions as an online community for people who are dealing with mental health issues and just need a sympathetic ear to vent to without judgment.
TalkLife is fast becoming an industry innovator by embracing smartphone technology and creating a pathway that encourages youth to become transparent with their struggles in an accepting and positive environment, shining light on taboo topics such as depression, self-harm and suicide.
The updated version has greater privacy policies as well, so the information you are discussing in confidence, cannot be mishandled by any outside party.
YOURDost is a website founded by college students who recognized the stigma attached and lack of accessibility to mental health facilities in India.
The website provides online counselling and lifestyle coaching. YOURDost provides the perfect balance between anonymity and easy accessibility.
It uses cognitive behavioural therapy or CBT, telephonic calls, and chat-based counselling for a pan-India consumer and has already handled over 15 lakh cases since it started in 2015.
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Wysa is a startup company that uses chatbots based on advanced algorithms and machine learning. The Wysa chatbots use more than 100 NLP models that have been built upon 80 million conversations to detect and understand user input.
The app responds to the users with an appropriate conversation and uses self-help techniques like CBT, meditation techniques, and motivational interviewing to address mental health issues effectively.
10) Ginger Emotional Support
Ginger offers confidential emotional support and guided self-care services. It provides day-to-day support and guidance with learning new skills and achieving goals, both personal and professional. A mental health start-up from MIT, this app is available at no cost to employees select employers located in the US and internationally, as well as dependents over the age of 18.
Ginger says that some 70% of members surveyed that have used Ginger reported “a significant reduction in symptoms of depression within 12 weeks.”
11) Juno Clinic
Juno Clinic is one of India’s most important mental health startups. It provides online counselling from mental health professionals and psychiatrists who are in-house. Juno also provides face-to-face counselling and therapy at three walk-in clinics in Mumbai.
Juno was started as a venture to provide online counselling exclusively to women, but has since expanded its operations to men as well. The startup provides quality and personalized counselling to ensure that users and patients do not feel unattended to, one of the main issues that people suffering from mental health in India face.
Innerhour’s AI bot- Allie has become friendly presence over time. Did you know people are more likely to talk to bots for their concerns rather than actual people? Innerhour uses AI and data-driven tests to profile users and help them navigate their way through the portal.
Founded in 2015 in Gurgaon, ePsyClinic has a wholesome offering for mental peace-seekers. Their app- IWill has more than 45 licensed therapists and mental health practitioners across the country providing their expertise to over 5,00,000 users.
ePsyClinic started as pop-up stores and kiosks in malls and general areas to start a conversation on mental health.
Amid the worrying crisis, there’s an unseen calamity sneaking up upon us. It’s the degrading mental health stature of millions of individuals that are going through a number of issues, economical, sociological and psychological.
Adding it all up, we are heading into a graver state of degraded mental health in the upcoming years. To counter the issues at hand, these mental health startups would provide the necessary support and guidance to sail through these tough times. For when times are tough, you ought to be tougher.
Q. What are some of the alternatives to work from home for those suffering from mental health issues?
A. Remote working is the best alternative to such things. It doesn’t necessarily mean to work from home, but to work from any remote office that helps you acclimatize to the new norms. Coworking spaces near your home works best in such scenarios as the ambience and people keep your negative thoughts away, while making you more productive.
Q. Is medical help needed when we feel depressed during these times?
A. Usually, the answer is no. Due to this change in routine and restrictions imposed, a number of us are facing this and seeking medical help is only making a mountain out of a molehill. Until the condition is severe, you shouldn’t head to any medical institution in these contagious times. Instead, make use of the apps and websites listed above if you are facing any such issues.
Q. What are the most common symptoms of mental health issues?
A. From getting irritated at things you would let go off otherwise, to getting lesser and lesser productive at work, there are small little unsatisfactory things that can be taken up as symptoms of mental health issues.