Significance Of Mental Health: Vikram Beri, Founder, BetterLYF.com
We do have a tech-driven mental health platform, that leverages smoother operations, but the end service provider is a human professional.
What has been that one idea that made you start an organization like this?
The stigma attached to mental health has been the driving factor for me to start BetterLYF. Once when I was dropping my wife to her place of internship, I couldn’t help but wonder why the counseling center she worked in was in a posh location of Delhi but in an obscure spot. She said- clients weren’t comfortable being seen in public or didn’t want anyone to know they were visiting a counselor. The idea of helping people reach out anonymously and conveniently that will help them shed their hesitance to talk about their concerns openly has been the core of this organization.
I am sure, in these Corona-hit days, BetterLYF.com must be in crucial action mode. What are the steps are you taking to serve your patients better in this current situation?
We have customized our counseling session packages to challenges people are facing due to the pandemic- panic, anxiety, struggling to work from home, navigating the various transitions, dealing with disruptions to daily routine and the strain on relationships that uncertainty can bring.
We have introduced email counseling packages because a lot of our clients shared the concern of not being able to talk due to a lack of privacy & space in the lockdown. Some of them have not even shared with their family members/spouses that they are seeking therapy. We have put a lot of free self-help resources that can motivate individuals to combat the psychological consequences of the pandemic.
As technology and artificial intelligence are emerging, how are you using the technology in mental health space?
We do have a tech-driven mental health platform, that leverages smoother operations, but the end service provider is a human professional that can attend to the nuances of complex human emotions and experiences.
Mental health and peace are really important at workplaces. How important is this for you?
Peace is most important and usually the hardest to achieve given that we are all ambitious and hence forever chasing a goal. One thing I try is to remind myself of the purpose, most ambitions have gratification and pride as the end game, it’s best to make them a part of the journey as well. In absence of peace, it’s natural to get anxious, temperamental and experience emotions that neither help your goal nor make you feel good.
What are the major challenges are you facing in this wellness specific area?
The problem is multifold-
1. The stigma- People often feel ashamed to seek help, and treat their emotional challenges as a sign of weakness
2. Lack of acceptance- we had a client who acknowledged and was aware of her mental health challenges. She was going through depression and felt better after seeking therapy. But, her family was highly dismissive and in denial of a mental health concern as a “concern” at all. They
pushed her to take solace within spirituality instead. So even if the person struggling would want to take a step forward, lack of social support may push them
3. No word of mouth- Word of mouth marketing works wonder for a brand. In mental health space, where lives are truly transformed, but no one wants to talk about or recommend it to their friends & family.
In India, mental health is not yet a social topic to openly talk about. Do you also feel some gap in society for acceptance of it?
I would be remiss to say that there has been no change at all. Celebrities have started opening up about their mental health challenges. Thus, the mental health space is getting more visibility, especially with the surge in online mental health platforms & AI-driven chatbots that can easily scale the business. Having said that, people are still not comfortable reaching out and being “seen” taking the help still. It is evident from the skewed ratio of prevalent mental health conditions in the population and help sought by them. We still have a large population of clients opting for chat therapy instead of call/video, which helps in concealing their identity.
What is that one thing that you love the most about your work personally?
I find my work extremely satisfying both because of the purpose and the people we work with and those we impact. Days when we hear from a client on how therapy changed their life and empowered them, are the best. Similarly, when a counselor shares that they discovered a dimension of themselves they were oblivious to, it makes my day. Being able to create something that creates a positive outcome day in and day out for the team and clients is an extremely gratifying feeling.