By Health In Five Writer
Wysa, the leading AI-based digital companion for behavioral health announced plans for a Hindi language mental health app, which will also be accessible through WhatsApp. ACT, a non-profit venture philanthropy platform, is supporting the initiative and is seeking a co-funding partner to propel the development further. The pilot is expected to commence in early 2023.
Says Neetha Joy, Director- Healthcare at ACT, “This is a first of a kind effort for us, to partner with an established player to make a proven solution accessible to millions. With 14% of our population suffering from mental health disorders and the pandemic exacerbating the lack of access to quality care, we need innovative solutions to address this chasm as there aren’t enough trained care providers to meet this latent demand.”
The first iteration of the Hindi app will guide users through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) exercises via text with a mobile phone-based conversational agent, to help users manage depression and anxiety. The app will guide users who show moderate to severe symptoms towards a clinical program and wellness tools to others.
Wysa is popular with employers and healthcare providers due to its scalability and low cost. Being an AI based app, Wysa overcomes the stigma and privacy concerns that often prevent people seeking help for their mental health. Wysa’s English mental health app has to date served approximately 528,000 people in India, primarily through large multinational employers and direct-to-consumer downloads.
Despite its popularity, the lack of Hindi language support remains a barrier in reaching diverse socio-economic groups and demographics. Offering an app in Hindi aims to reduce this access barrier, as a large proportion of the country is conversant in Hindi, and it brings a proven and tangible mechanism to increase communication and access for the vast majority of communities in India.
“In our ambition to help 50 million users by 2025, we must go beyond the barriers of literacy and language to create access to mental health support for all. We’ve shown that therapy through Wysa appeals to those who are unwilling to come forward to talk about their mental health problems. We have a long way to go in overcoming mental health stigma in India, but with this Hindi version of our universally popular app, delivered through Whatsapp, is a great place to start,” said Jo Aggarwal, CEO and Co-Founder at Wysa.
India mental health facts
- 14 percent of the population in India is estimated to be suffering from mental disorders
- $1Trillion USD lost arising out of mental health conditions in India between 2012 and 2030
- >70% of the general public in India associate mental health with “stigma” according to a study
- Approximately 0.75 psychiatrists are available per 100,000 population
- There are around 0.07 Psychologists/social workers available per 100,000 people in India versus more than 30 in the US
- <0.1% Mental health allocation in the health budget over the last five years vs. approximately 5 percent allocation in developed countries