Pranjal KshirsagarApr 15, 2016 16:01:23 IST
More than repercussions to health, a patient with mental or emotional issues suffers the trauma of being socially ostracized. With ‘Type A Thought’, Dr Ajay Phadke resolves to change that by offering a digital counselling platform – that is convenient and anonymous -- for mental and emotional well-being. The platform addresses concerns that range from reducing distressing thoughts to increasing work performance through its website. Founded by Dr Phadke and Dr Alvin Alva, the venture connects users to verified experts that include psychologists, life coaches, sexologists, counsellors, social workers, speech and occupational therapists, marriage and family therapists and psychiatrists with different areas of expertise. The experts use various modes of digital communication for interaction based on the users’ preference like text chat, phone chat or video chat to deliver counselling/therapy.
Speaking on how this concept came up, Dr Phadke says, “My family and I have been in the healthcare industry for five decades now. In our recent interactions with patients coming to the pathology labs, we realised many patients were grappling with mental and emotional issues and were unaware and unsure about where to seek help. Also, the common perception is that only clinically ill people need mental or psychological counselling. The fact is every person faces mental and emotional concerns on a day-to-day basis. This doesn’t mean the person is mentally ill or he has serious disorders. It just means that people need an outlet to talk and be vocal about what’s consuming their peace of mind.”
The social stigma around seeking professional counselling refrains individuals from expressing their concerns, which then leads to chronic clinical issues, adds Dr Phadke and this was the core reason behind Type A Thought (TAT).
TAT currently works with a team of 10 people with 5 in-house counsellors. Presently they have 50 experts on the platform. With the experts, they work on a commission based model for each session that is booked by the users. “We will be soon introducing a subscription based model where for a fixed fee; users will have 24x7 access to our in-house counsellors,” informs Dr Phadke.
The company believes in delivering a hassle free experience to its users with its website. TAT also offers multiple modes of communication that users can choose from to interact with the counsellors. Users can book online appointments with these experts and communicate with them, from anywhere -- via email, text chat, phone chat or video chat. “We will be soon launching a mobile app to make it more convenient for our users. The payment gateway integrated in our platform is quick and easy to use,” shares Dr Phadke. Currently TAT has around 1000 registered, active users on our platform. They aim to increase user base to 10000 in the next six months and plan to have around 150 daily chat sessions.
Dr Phadke says they are a self-funded startup and intend to make the venture self-sufficient so that external funding is not required in the near future. They aim to add more features to the platform makes counselling more accessible. They will also be partnering with corporates and offer customised employee wellness plans to them.
Talking about effectiveness of a digital counselling platform as compared to face-to-face counsel, Dr Phadke believes that digital may be more beneficial in some cases as some people are more comfortable opening up. “However, it is important to note that digital counselling is not a substitute to physical counselling for critical or chronic disorders that also include clinical treatment. It can definitely serve as a supplementary support in such cases. Hence, digital counselling is effective and useful to address preliminary issues, which if not addressed, could lead to critical conditions,” says Dr Phadke.
While the stigma or even the sense of denial around maintaining mental health continues, Dr Phadke predicts that it will change if people are provided with a comfortable and non-judgemental environment. “The communication around addressing psychological concerns has also gained momentum with known personalities and public figures openly speaking about it. We have begun just two months back and are already receiving very positive response from all stakeholders – users, experts, corporates and partners. This shows that people are beginning to understand, appreciate and accept the need and benefits of services like digital counselling,” shares Dr Phadke.
The company shares that the complete profile, qualifications, specialisation and charges of each expert are clearly mentioned on the platform in order to ensure transparency. The exchange of content/data between the experts and users is completely confidential and is not stored in any form by TAT.
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