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Richa Singh Discusses Evolution of Online Counseling & YourDOST’s Impact on India’s Mental Health Landscape with ObserveNow

Online Counseling

In India, mental health remains a relatively new and stigmatized topic. According to the National Health program by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, 6% of Kerala’s population suffers from mental disorders, with one in five people experiencing emotional and behavioral issues. Nationwide, about 60 to 70 million people are affected by mental disorders, and India has the highest number of suicides globally, with over 260,000 cases annually. World Health Organization reports an average suicide rate of 10.9 per 100,000 people in India.richa

During the COVID era, online counseling platforms surged in popularity. Over time, the field of psychological therapy and counseling has expanded, establishing various forums to deliver mental health services. The use of virtual therapy has significantly increased, with professionals providing support via emails, voice chats, audio platforms, and chat rooms. Despite the mental health triggers caused by the pandemic, therapy applications have played a crucial role in alleviating mental health challenges and enhancing psychological well-being. Siddharth Mala, Correspondent, ObserveNow interacted with Richa Singh, Conceptualizer & Co-Founder, YourDOST to gather more insights on the evolution of online counseling platforms.

Here are a few edited excerpts from the interview:

What inspired you to create an online counseling and emotional support platform like YourDOST?

The idea behind founding YourDOST stemmed from personal experiences and the tragic loss of a college friend due to mental health struggles.

What started as an online counseling platform to fight the pervasive stigma and lack of awareness today has a full suite of tools to help organizations build happier and thriving communities. This includes counseling, self-help, assessments, habit building programs, leadership training etc.

Can you elaborate on the range of services YourDOST provides and how they are tailored to different user needs?

We helping organizations build an enriching work environment, by fostering resilience & engagement in communities and by empowering individuals to become a better version of themselves.

When an organization signs up with us, they get access to 1000+experts, 24×7 counselling support, access to self tools and resources. We also have specialized programs we offer for founders, expecting mothers, layoff support, etc.

How do you ensure the quality and credibility of the experts on your platform?

At YourDOST, all our experts have a minimum of a Master’s degree in Psychology.

Our Clinical psychologists have completed their MPhil in Clinical Psychology from an RCI-certified institution and our coaches have an ICF or equivalent certification in coaching.

With these minimum qualifications they can apply to YourDOST and thereafter go through an extensive recruitment process – which involves written test, mock counseling and interviews. Once they are selected they have to go through mandatory training and supervision from our clinical team. It doesn’t matter how experienced an expert is – everyone goes through our robust supervision process.

How do you handle feedback from users to continually improve the platform?

We take a two pronged approach one is where we have a mandatory session rating which a user gives at the end of each session. Second is where we measure the distress level of the user before and after the counseling sessions. These metrics coupled with expert level supervision scores ensure that we are on top of the quality of services we provide at YourDOST.

What strategies have you employed to engage with diverse groups such as colleges, corporates, and government bodies?

We enhance happiness and resilience in organizations through three levels :

  • Individual Level (Self-Care): 24/7 access to psychologists, coaches, and self-help tools on YourDOST’s platform.
  • Team Level (Peer-Support): Tailor-made training for leaders and employees to foster a supportive team culture.
  • Organisational Level (Workplace Culture): Data-driven analysis to help leadership build an empathetic, high-performing culture.What were the major challenges you faced during the expansion phase, and how did you overcome them?

Some key challenges we encountered were educating stakeholders- on the importance of employee wellness, adoption of the programs- by leaders to make it a core initiative as part of the organization and ensuring quality with scale.

We have managed to work with 500+ corporates on this and ensured a quality approach on our sessions, programs and training.

You mentioned having only three months of cash left at one point. How did you navigate that financial crisis?

When we had only three months of cash left, the team united to make tough decisions: we reduced salaries, scrapped long-shot experiments, and moved to zero-budget marketing. For the next year, we worked tirelessly, focusing on sustainability and efficiency, keeping our spirits high despite the challenges. This collective effort helped us conquer the difficult phase and emerge victorious and profitable as an organization.

What were the key learnings from that challenging period, and how has it shaped your approach to managing the company?

The challenging period we faced fundamentally reshaped our approach to managing the company. It taught us the importance of pursuing responsible growth and underscored the critical role of persistence and teamwork. This experience also gave us confidence that doing good and doing well can coexist, reinforcing our belief that, together, we can create meaningful change and positively impact the world. These lessons continue to guide our actions and decisions.

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