• You can access the program on an app on your phone. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
The startup aims to provide services for millions of people in a country where many don’t seek help because they’re too afraid of judgment.
Sarah Norton

29 Jun 2016 - 2:01 PM  UPDATED 29 Jun 2016 - 2:01 PM

An emotional wellness startup called YourDOST has launched a website and app providing people with anonymous access to mental health resources.

While the online platform was launched in India, you can access it from anywhere in the world.

"Our office is here in Bengaluru, India but since it is online, anyone can connect with our counsellors from anywhere, anytime," YourDOST tells SBS.

Co-founder Richa Singh told Your Story that while studying at IIT Guwahati her hostel mate committed suicide.

"She was worried about her placements. This could have been avoided if we knew what she was going through. Even though we had counsellors and psychologists in the campus hardly any student was seeking their support or help," she said.

After the incident, Singh began working on the issue of emotional wellness and realised that many people around her were struggling with stress but were not willing to talk about it for fear of social implications.

In December 2014 she launched the online counselling and emotional support platform - using the word "Dost" which is Hindi for "Friend" - to create a space for people to seek mental health help.

India's mental health statistics

According to reports, one-in-five people are suffering from mental health disorders in India, 50 per cent of corporate India is dealing with chronic stress and 20 per cent are suffering from depression.

Through their own research, YourDOST found that 50 per cent of the thousands of people they questioned about mental health, weren’t seeking help because they were worried about being judged, or being called “mad”. Another 30 per cent said they didn’t know who to seek help from.

YourDOST services

This new online platform is hoping to allow more people to feel comfortable about seeking help. Singh told Mashable that her startup has already helped over 350, 000 people.

“Around 30% of our clients seek help on relationships, pre-or-post-marital,” she says.

The most common concerns after relationships are from those anxious about careers or academic studies. Over half of their clients are working professionals who predominantly range in age from 18 to 35.

If people require medical treatment they are referred to appropriate experts. The startup highlights that it is not a medical service but does say it connects people to psychologists, psychotherapists, counsellors, life coaches and career guides.

The biggest bulk of funding has come from SAIF Partners, a venture capital company, who have invested $1 million dollars into the startup. The money will be strategically allocated to expand the scope of operations a statement said.

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