Today, a mother walked up to me in pride and told me that she convinced her daughter out of choosing psychology, not because she is conservative but because computer science seems more reasonable.
I had a million things to say as I sat there nodding with a smile stapled to my face. Such is the condition of psychology and the mental health field in India. Growing up in an environment where we are taught that struggle and pain that is visible is valid restricts and distorts our idea of well-being. Wounds need not always look like broken bones or bruised skin; they can also look like fidgeting fingers and dishonest replies to a How are you?
I don’t mean to paint an awful picture of the current climate of mental health in India because it is true that as the country hurtles forward into modernity, it is shedding age-old taboos to embrace a more compassionate, informed, and open approach to mental health. Still, it is also true that it has a long way to go.
Here are some numbers to help you understand the situation better!
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), India is home to one of the highest rates of mental health disorders globally, with an estimated 197 million people suffering from varying degrees of mental illness. Depression and anxiety are considered the most common mental health conditions for Indian students, especially post-pandemic, as COVID-19 gave everyone the time to sit up and face the realities of their mental well-being or the lack thereof. While on the subject of discussing the staggering mental well-being of crucial populations, pregnant people in India are experiencing 25% and 15% anxiety and depression, respectively, according to the Journal of Indian Psychology.
Despite these alarming statistics, mental health remains a primarily neglected facet of healthcare in India, with only around 0.75 psychiatrists per 100,000 people, underscoring the urgent need for improved access and awareness. Research published in the Lancet in October 2021 found a 35% increase in mental health disorders in India.
The Indian Journal of Psychiatry in 2019 mentions how even before the pandemic, approximately 50 million children in India were affected with mental health issues, amongst which around 80% have not sought help with the predominant population dealing with clinical conditions such as ADHD, behavioural and defiance. The continued problem of childhood psychiatric cases is more severe in middle and low-income countries like India due to the more significant proportion of children in the adult population. Detrimentally adding to this is the lack of resources and social stigma.
Workplace mental health
A management consultancy company, Deloitte, found that 47% of professionals surveyed consider workplace stress the most prominent factor affecting their mental health. If workplace mental health is compromised, productivity and job satisfaction will be directly affected. With the rapid expansion of the corporate sector and the adoption of modern work practices, employees often face high levels of stress, burnout, and mental health challenges. Ernst and Young (EY), a multinational company, reports that 50% of their employees had to take off work due to mental health concerns in the past year.
In 2020, an article released in the Business Times read that 93% of Indians prefer to talk to a robot than their managers. This issue again begs the question of whether the search and need to keep the corporate space more professional has, in turn, broken down the bridge to form rapport and build a nurturing environment.
Along with the de-stigmatisation of mental health concerns, the need for the right psychoeducation and health literacy is pressing even in educated pockets for the reasons mentioned above. That said, even if people are willing to seek care, there are not enough mental health professionals to provide said care comfortably, especially in the rural parts of India.
However, amid this sobering reality, there is a glimmer of hope. On account of the status of mental health in India, during the 2022 budget, the Union Ministry of Health and Welfare launched a mental health service helpline called Tele Manas. Apart from this, renowned institutions and NGOs such as TISS (iCall) and Sangath offer helplines for free tele-counselling in multiple languages. The conversation around mental health is gaining momentum, thanks to the efforts of these individuals, organisations, and policymakers who are committed to rewriting the narrative and providing a brighter future for those grappling with mental health issues.
Theraverse: rewriting the narrative
Speaking of rewriting the current tale of mental health in India, Theraverse, a brainchild of Dr Navina Suresh, is a networking and e-commerce platform bringing together mental health professionals and wellness service providers from diverse streams of expertise and facilitating teleconsultations, psychometric assessments and other health solutions.
Darkness may give you comfort, but that is until you experience the comfort light can provide.
Theraverse app assists in that journey towards the light and promises to be with you every step.
I see you are wondering how the app works; I’m glad you asked!
The app is available in Android and IOS versions; after downloading, it will handhold you through a series of basic demographic details to help you set up your account, following which you will reach the home page. This page leaves you with a list of skilled and experienced professionals to choose from to book your appointment and start your mental health journey. Ṭeam Theraverse understands that the struggles of mental health (despite being common) can be very subjective, and hence, they let you curate your path.
Apart from this, the app provides a space to find like-minded people and create your support group, or as they call it, a space to find your tribe! The app also holds a wellness store with a wide range of products, from medication to essential oils.
Theraverse is a one-stop platform for mental health and holistic wellness that efficiently bridges the gap between people yearning for help and competent professionals capable of providing the required support.
Why Theraverse is the right first step to your journey?
The mental health conditions they treat range from major depressive disorder, postpartum depression, premenstrual dysphoric panic disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, personality disorder, adjustment disorder, sexual disorder, addictive disorder, eating and sleep disorder, attention deficit disorder, and many more.
Their team of mental health providers are certified in their areas of expertise and duly registered in national bodies such as the Medical Council of India and the Rehabilitation Council of India. They follow well-established guidelines of clinical care and evidence-based treatment protocols.
Their goal is to provide a comprehensive range of services, including therapy sessions, group sessions, and self-help resources, to ensure that users can access the care they need whenever they need it through just a few clicks. And most importantly, they do all of this all the time. That is, they provide 24/7 services; after all, they promise to be with you every step of the way!
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 discusses ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all ages, and the company contributes in various ways to contribute towards the goal. Theraverse, eliminating the negative symptoms and treating disorders is also creating safe spaces (such as the support group mentioned earlier) to improve well-being and promote positive growth. Theraverse extends itself beyond geographic boundaries to provide online accessibility to mental health services and products for anyone above 17 with the app in three languages: English, Tamil and Hindi.
About the Founders
Dr Navina Suresh MD is the founder and consultant psychiatrist of Theraverse. She is passionate about dismantling stigma and breaking barriers to mental healthcare. She completed her MBBS from Tirunelveli Medical College and MD from SRIHER, Chennai. She has also completed her MPM-CX certificate program for clinicians at IIM Ahmedabad. She has a particular interest in women’s mental health issues, workplace mental health and disorders of addiction. She believes in integrated and holistic models of care and wellness. She is an active proponent of mindfulness and positive psychology.
Mr Krishnakumar Chinnasamy is the co-founder and technical advisor who has stepped on board in a technical advisory capacity, having extensive experience in software design, development and testing.