A friend of Shweta Srinivasan, who identifies as queer, couldn’t find a therapist to talk to openly about his identity and the impact it may have had on his mental well-being.
Another woman had told her therapist that she had had an abortion to be tried and never to open up again.
Shweta had encountered too many cases of mental health professionals coming up with judgments that hurt people more than offering the collaborative solutions they came for.
In her own experience, Shweta, who is also a professional therapist, learned that a toxic relationship in the past could be on her own.
In 2018, she decided to take matters into her own hands and teamed up with her partner Mani Kumar to found TheMindClan, a platform to access good mental health resources.
The goal is to ensure that “questioning of choices, blame and moral judgment on people and their experiences does not enter the therapy room” so that those seeking help can be. on the road to recovery.
Despite a growing awareness of mental well-being, Shweta noted that public debate rarely goes beyond recognizing the importance of mental health, let alone how to access mental health care and to find the right therapist who works or other resources.
“These are the unanswered questions in the general public and this is what really inspired us to create a reliable platform like TheMindClan.com to provide Indians with access to inclusive mental health care support. “, she says.
Shweta Srinivasan and Mani Kumar, co-founders of TheMindClan.com
Mental health for all
Based in Mumbai, the platform functions as an aggregator and organizes therapists, support groups, workshops, helplines and shares the stories of people working on their mental well-being.
“We carefully select the therapists we invite to be on the platform. Due to our past experiences we really take care and go beyond professional details like degree and years of experience, ”said Shweta.
The couple review peer counseling and interact with therapists to learn more about their values, ethics and position on mental health in order to create a reliable, non-judgmental network of professionals.
“We want people to be able to open up to therapists because you cannot discuss mental health independently of factors such as intersectional gender, gender identity, caste, which make us all vulnerable to discrimination and experience. a lack of acceptance that must be addressed during therapy. She explains, adding that a master’s degree does not guarantee any of this.
It now has a network of more than 35 therapists, more support groups and five active helplines, all accessible online.
While crowdsourcing was a way to increase reach, the platform avoided it and focused on understanding therapists and support groups personally to ensure values are not compromised.
After starting out by listing only therapies, he went further to find support groups and other resources, as most people cannot afford therapy.
At present, more than 1000 users have access each month to the resources available on the platform. He has sought to identify more resources to meet growing needs amid the pandemic over the past year.
While the community platform does not offer its own services and does not have the resources listed, it also does not charge commissions from therapists and third parties, which makes funding difficult.
Started so far, the initial investment from their own pockets would be used to fund the server and other tech-related costs. However, Shweta says a lot of time and work has gone into finding and integrating the resources as well as creating the content.
In addition to receiving grants, she started building B2B associations as a source of income by offering workshops and policy consultations to like-minded companies such as YouTube India, Verizon Media, and DHL, among others.
“The money is reinvested in the platform so that it remains free and accessible to all. We don’t want to charge users, therapists or support groups because our mission, at the end of the day, is to make mental health care accessible to all Indians, ”she says.
In the future, it hopes to become a one-stop-shop for all inclusive mental health care resources, reaching out to Indians of all identities by developing the trusted network of support groups and mental health professionals. .
The platform plans to launch more allied mental health products and services “to restore people to the agency of choice in mental health care.”
While TheMindClan.com is unwilling to monetize the platform, some of its mental health peers include Wysa, InnerHour, Trijog, ePsyclinic, and YourDOST, among others.
Help others to heal
Shweta almost realized that mental health was a health issue when she was in eighth grade when a close family member struggled with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It was also at this point that she wanted to understand him better and finally put her on the path to becoming a therapist.
While running TheMindClan.com, she says struggling with her identity as an entrepreneur was the first challenge.
“As a woman with a middle-class education, I didn’t learn to run or take a business by the horns and grow it to have an impact on people,” she says, adding that ‘having Mani, an entrepreneur at heart and a mental health advocate, as a partner has helped.
Until the end of 2019 and early 2020, she began to accept her identity as an entrepreneur, which made the journey much easier.
Shweta relates from her experience that almost everyone will have an opinion on what should be done and what should be avoided.
“It took me a long time to discover my internal compass of what is important to me. I encourage all cis women, trans women, and gender nonconforming people to find this internal compass for themselves. Learn to take every moment of doubt and skepticism in others as an invitation to listen to your own intuition, ”she advises.
To those who are intimidated by the idea of entrepreneurship, she suggests, “Start with the smallest, most intentional thing you care about and feel connected to. Build from there.
(Edited by Megha Reddy)