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Co-founder & CEO of Healtheminds, Ankita Puri believes that technology can play a role in addressing mental health issues that many in India suffer from without support.
Healtheminds, an online platform which provides various types mental health counseling services at your finger tips, is the brain child of Ankita Puri along with Dr. Sunita Maheshwari. The services are integrated with a secure and confidential video technology platform for users and especially useful for people who would like to access such help from the comfort of home.
Ankita Puri will be sharing her experiences with growing a company in a completely new market, and raising funds for the same, at the Women’s Web event, Breaking Barriers To Growth: The Money Edition; get your pass now!
Before the event, we interviewed her about her entrepreneurial venture and how she spotted that mental health is a problem area that needs to be addressed.
What first got you interested in the subject of mental health issues?
Ankita Puri: I personally witnessed the power of counselling when my friend in the US went through a divorce and I noticed that after only a couple of sessions of therapy she was able to benefit tremendously and not continue down the spiral of negative thinking. This made me realize how important it is to take care of mental health and how a trained professional can help you do that.
How did you realise that there is a business opportunity in this space?
Ankita Puri: I started researching the mental health space in India and realized that there were a lot of barriers that restricted people from reaching out for help. These barriers included lack of awareness, stigma and poor access. I felt that technology could play a vital role in transcending these barriers and help a lot of people suffering in silence.
Counselling is usually felt to work better when face to face. Does addressing this subject online help people on ground zero?
Ankita Puri: While traditional face to face counselling helps a lot of people who need the feeling of closeness and physical support, there is a huge demographic of people who are intimidated by the idea of physically going to a hospital or clinic and meeting face to face with a psychologist and revealing very intimate and private thoughts and events in their lives.
Online counselling has helped many people who are afraid of the process of meeting a therapist, or who are living in places where there is poor access to good quality therapy. The biggest advantage of using the HealthEMinds platform is the time one saves in travelling and waiting. Depending on the availability of the expert, sessions can be booked for a convenient time and day depending on one’s schedule. Other benefits include things like assured anonymity, since it is not mandatory to share identifying information and easy accessibility for people with limited mobility.
There might be times where you come across extreme cases where bodily harm might be done to one-self or others. How does you address such SOS calls?
Ankita Puri: Under our ethics and guidelines, policies we do not take emergency cases as online counselling is not equipped for that. However if we do get such calls we immediately refer to our network.
Raising money for a business can be a daunting task. How do you raise money for your venture and what are the many challenges that you face during the entire process?
Ankita Puri: We are currently raising an external round of funding. The journey has been quite exciting so far and it’s a great experience to help understand how your business is viewed by others in the investor community. You will see that different investors will have varied views on the business and in this journey it is important to really understand the business you are in and the value offering.
We are delighted that our community will be hearing from you at the upcoming #BreakingBarriers event for women entrepreneurs. In what ways do you feel such networks can help women?
Ankita Puri: It is always great to hear from personal experiences of fellow colleagues. I think the journey of launching and building a startup is not just a professional journey but also a very personal and emotional journey and it is important to understand and appreciate that you are not alone in these experiences.
Lastly, we would like to know more about Ankita beyond work.
Ankita Puri: I like to fill up my days as I am happiest when I am busy. I have to work out everyday as this helps give me an extra boost of energy so I do yoga, pilates, kickboxing, swimming and badminton through the week. I love watching good movies, meeting up with friends, cooking up meals for my friends and family. Most importantly I love travelling however given we are an early stage startup it’s been tough taking off!
A part time backpacker, an accidental baker, a doting mother, a loving wife, a pampered
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