With over 150 million Indians seeking mental healthcare, it has become the need of the hour.

As per the National Mental Health Survey of 2015-16, only an alarming 20 percent are seeking help when it comes to treating mental health.

The stigma surrounding seeking help, the lack of awareness and unaffordable therapy costs add to the woes and the number of people availing these services remains low.

However, here are 7 people revolutionising the mental health space:

Ekta Prakash Sharma wanted to make therapy accessible after she saw people tackle loss, despair and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

1. Humanising Lives: Therapy At Rs 500

She set up a non-profit called ‘Humanising Lives’ in May 2020, that offers therapy starting at Rs 500 per session.

They are a queer-friendly organisation and run support groups for the LGBTQI+ community. They also conduct offline support groups called ‘Baatcheet’ (conversation) with therapists.

Originally focused on suicide preventions among farmers, it has extended to cover everyone today.

2. Praan Wellness: Free 24*7 helpline

Started by Surya Pulagam and Swetha Dutt in Hyderabad in 2018, with a vision to “contribute to a society where seeking assistance is not just accepted but encouraged.”

They offer guidance and counselling, both online and offline starting at Rs 450. They also run a Volunteer Initiative Program (VIP) which helps in spreading awareness and Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for work-related stress.

Have you ever felt the need to speak to someone with a similar experience? This Bengaluru-based organisation connects ‘peers’ through their support groups.

3: SoulUp: Peer Conversations

Started by Mahak Maheshwari and Punita Mittal, the mental health tech start-up offers one-on-one conversations – in which a person dealing with an emotional challenge can talk to a verified peer over a video call.

Dr Manoj Kumar founded this trust in 2008 after returning from the UK to Kozhikode to provide community-based mental health care in the remotest parts of the state.

4. Mental Health Action Trust: Free Mental Healthcare to rural Kerala

MHAT provides help on the ground level, and works on a volunteer-led, community-driven approach through detailed assessments.

The problems are solved by the volunteers or passed over to professionals when the need arises. They also offer teleconsultations and video counselling for anyone interested.

After realising the transformative nature of therapy, Pooja Srinivasa Raja started a mental wellness centre called ‘The Love Hope Company’ (TLHC) in Chennai.

5. The Love Hope Company: Healing Through Art

“Love and hope drive everything we do. We want to bring you a lot of love (self-love) and hope,” says Pooja.

TLHC offers multiple services including counselling sessions, wellness workshops (using art, dance and drama to provide help) and group therapy sessions at their T Nagar centre in Chennai.

Noticing a lack of specialised and affordable mental health platforms in India, Kanika Agarwal started MindPeers in 2020.

6. Mind Peers: Gaming Your Way to Mental health

This digital platform built on the tenets of neuroscience, uses a proprietary algorithm to check how important aspects of your life—like career, finance, relationships—are impacting your brain.

It helps you work on this through neuroscience games, self-help tools and also offers therapy starting at Rs 500.

This Bengaluru-based venture was founded by Rohini Rajeev, a social worker, psychotherapist and a licensed marital therapist, and her husband, Rajeev Vijayan, in April 2022.

7. The Able Mind: Therapy at Rs 500

They offer services at Rs 500 a month, with text-based therapy, peer group sessions led by a counsellor, support groups, self-help tools and support in nine regional languages apart from English.