According to a study by the World Health Organisation(WHO), Indians are among the most depressed people in the world. Nearly 36% of the people in India are under depression. One person in India commits suicide every four minutes, youth is the worst hit. For giving support to the people under depression Richa Singh, an IIT Guwahati pass out, started www.yourdost.com, online counseling and emotional support platform. Richa designed it for people who want assistance but anonymously. YourDost is developed to promote mental wellness. It anonymously connects its users with experts across belonging to different professions such as psychologists, psychotherapists, counselors, life coaches, and career guides. YourDost offers confidential individual sessions through Free Online chats, giving emotional support to users while also breaking down the stigmas of mental health.
Richa tells, ” When I was in school, my hostel mate was so worried and overwhelmed about her placements, she committed suicide. I feel as though this could have been avoided if we knew what she was going through. What I noticed was, even though we had counselors and psychologists on campus, students weren’t really seeking their support or help. When I started working on this issue I found that many people were stressed out because of exams, job pressures and relationship issues. However, most of these people were not willing to talk about their problems fearing the social implications of reaching out for help. That’s really what prompted me and my friends to found YourDost, an online counseling and emotional support platform. It’s a way for people to anonymously connect with experts consisting of psychologists, psychotherapists, counselors, life coaches, career guides and people with a rich and deep life experience, for free.”
Stigma Around Mental Health
“I think the biggest taboo is around the phrase ‘mental health.’ It’s associated with being insane or with madness. It’s seen as a sign of weakness if you seek support for or talk about your problems. We are a society where everybody keeps things to themselves, there’s a lot of taboo around sharing. We don’t share our emotions or feelings. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done to increase awareness amongst people to tell them “it’s okay to seek support, it’s okay to talk about it. Everybody goes through it, you’re not the only one and there’s nothing wrong with you. We all go through ups and downs. Whether you’re a man or woman, if you’re a human being, it’s okay to be vulnerable. That’s the biggest challenge that we face” says Richa.
Richa Singh narrates an experience, “I remember an example of this girl who came to us while she was preparing for one of the most coveted exams in India – the IAS exam. She didn’t really want to do it, but because of pressure from her parents, family, neighbors, and friends, she was studying for it. She never wanted to do it, all she wanted was to teach. She wasn’t able to speak up about it because of the pressure that she was facing from everyone. As we counseled her, we learned this. We helped her to talk about it with the people in her life, and today she is a teacher in one of the most reputed schools in Delhi.”
“There are multiple relationships at multiple times in life that have shaped me, but especially to start YourDost my relationship with my brother helped me a lot. He was always there. Everybody was saying “Don’t start up, that’s not the age, this is not the right time.” He was the only one who stood beside me and he was like “Okay, if you want to give it a try, please go ahead and do it.” Another thing would be my relationship with my mom. I’ve seen her working since my childhood; I think watching her showed me how multitasking could be done to accomplish a lot.” says Richa Singh.
Richa says regarding the challenges she faced before starting Your’Dost, “Starting up has been the biggest challenge Ihave faced for various reasons, one of which is that I don’t personally come from the field of emotional wellness and mental health. It took me a lot of years and a lot of research to understand it better. If I had better knowledge about the field and the industry sooner, I would have done one or two things in my career much earlier.”
Richa Singh on Following Passion
“We get a lot of requests where people ask, “Tell us which field is booming, what is doing good? I want to start a business in that field.” I feel it should be the other way around. It should be more of, “this is the area I feel quite strongly about, and I want to do something in it.” My only piece of advice would be, if you feel very strongly about anything, any cause or anything in general, that is the field you should pursue. It might not be the most charming field for the VC, or it might not be the most booming field, but it’s still okay to go for it. You will find your way because your passion is backing you.” says Richa.