The startup Yourdost.com is a brainchild of Richa Singh, an IIT Guwahati alumni and her former colleague Puneet Manuja, a graduate of IIT Calicut.
Though the duo was happy in their well paying jobs at multinational companies, they felt the need to start a forum that can help youngsters deal with emotional problems. They wanted it to be a tech-based platform.
The result was YOURDOST, which kicked off operations in December 2014. It now gets over 12,000 hits a month.
“Not everyone goes to a psychologist when they feel low. There is a certain stigma attached to it. Hence, the online platform. We have a trained set of psychologists who deal with everything from relationship matters and peer pressure to anxiety, stress and parental issues,” said Richa.
The service is free. When asked what made her quit a well paying job and start the venture with her savings, Richa said: “When I was studying in IIT Guwahati in 2008, a friend of mine committed suicide. It shook me. There was a psychologist on campus but not many approached the expert. I realized people were hesitant to talk about their problems. That’s when I started collecting contact details of psychologists across India and even met many. I had come to Bengaluru too. After talking to them, I understood what the hitch was -recognizing the problem itself.”
One homemaker worried about her son failing in BE and wanting to become a chef to a squabbling couple, they come across diverse cases.”It’s all about emotional wellness, how to make oneself more productive and happy in a relationship. The task is how to reduce the high-stress levels among young adults,” said Puneet.
The counsellors at YOURDOST are called special friends. They are online 24X7. Shaifali Verma, a psychologist, recalled the case of a man who was contemplating suicide. “He came from a dysfunctional family and was suffering from insomnia and vitamin B12 deficiency. Working for long hours had taken a toll on him. We were able to calm him down and he was asked to meet a psychiatrist the next day,” said Verma
“If a person can’t easily strike a conversation or mingle with friends, there is a problem that needs to be addressed. If you have a stomach ache, don’t you go to the doctor? Then why not when you can’t do something as simple as talking to people. Social stigma is to blame,” said Richa.
Success stories are regularly uploaded on YOURDOST website, so that those dealing with similar issues can relate to them and seek help, she added. Richa is one of the three INK2015 fellows chosen from Bengaluru for her work.