According to a report by WHO, an alarming 20% of the Indian population is suffering from depression today. And, a survey report by Assocham, released earlier this year, highlights that the rate of emotional problems such as anxiety and depression has increased by around 50% among corporate employees in the last eight years.
While dealing with societal pressure, pressure to perform and excel at work, family and marital issues, stress of studies, constant lifestyle comparison with the peer group due to over exposure to social media and several other factors have led to severe disturbances in their emotional stability, discussing it openly or dealing with it medically is still a taboo.
According to government estimates, one in five people in India need counselling, either psychological or psychiatric. However, for an estimated 70 million people living with psycho-social problems and disabilities, there are less than 50 government mental health establishments.
This huge need gap and IIT-Guwahati alumnus Richa Singh's personal experience of a friend losing her life due to placement pressure led to the birth of YourDOST, an online platform that provides people with convenient-yet-anonymous access to experts consisting of life coaches, psychologists and other experienced individuals.
"We all face problems, stress and anxiety at some point in our life but mostly we are not willing to talk about these fearing social implications, being judged and for the fear of being judged. We are confident that technology combined with empathy and right kind of experts will go a long way in helping people going through a various emotional and mental challenges and equipping them to better deal with it," Singh says.
Founded in December 2014 in Bengaluru by Richa Singh in partnership with IIM-Bangalore alumnus Puneet Manjula and Prakhar Verma, a computer science graduate from BMSCE, YourDOST today announced that it has raised $400,000 (around Rs 2.5 crore) in its first round of angel funding.
RedBus founder Phanindra Sama, TaxiForSure founder Aprameya Radhakrishna, Capillary founder Aneesh Reddy and Nagesh Grandhi of Hyderabad Angels participated in the investment round.
"We intend to deploy the funds majorly towards holding awareness campaigns, writing cultural-specific content around mental and emotional well being, and to create a strong technology platform using artificial intelligence etc," she says.
Available as a free service both through its web portal and mobile app, YourDOST currently has 10,000 registered users, and a team of over 75 experts offering around 300 one-on-one interactions on a daily basis. "We are in the process of developing a premium revenue-generating model," Singh adds.