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Revolutionizing Mental Wellness in India: Pooja Srinivasa Raja’s Journey with The Love Hope Company

“I think it’s high time to change the narrative of how mental health has been spoken about and how people think about the mental health awareness that has been spread. Providing the right awareness about what needs to be done is the starting point, followed by giving them a platform to address their mental health concerns.”

In India, the mental wellness landscape demands pressing attention as accessibility to therapy sessions remains a challenge for many. Pooja Srinivasa Raja’s work in the mental health space caught the attention of Entrepreneurs Today. Here’s a sneak peek into her journey. 

Pooja Srinivasa Raja, a business graduate, founded The Love Hope Company to revolutionize mental health services in India. 

Their aim is to provide accessible and inclusive mental wellness support through various avenues like therapy, free online support groups, workshops, and an initiative called EITA, educating children from age four about emotional intelligence through expressive art forms. 

Pooja’s personal experiences, including battling postpartum depression and anxiety, inspired her to transition from a background in business management to creating a space that prioritizes quality mental health services over cost considerations. The company’s inclusive approach aims to dismantle the notion that mental health is exclusively about expensive therapy, focusing instead on diverse and accessible avenues for mental well-being. 

The inspiration

Speaking of what got her started, in a freewheeling chat, Pooja explains,

“I’ve been working for my family business for the past five years. And then, due to my personal experiences, I saw a need for this space. People often emphasize online therapy and strive to gather more individuals for cheaper therapy sessions. However, mental health care should be about personal well-being, not just about cost. I understand that in our country, the availability of mental health professionals and quality services is limited. Yet, there’s a pervasive belief that mental health is expensive or exclusively about therapy. I believe otherwise; there are numerous ways to seek help beyond therapy. That’s the kind of narrative that we’re trying to change.”

Interviewer: Could you elaborate on how your personal experience navigating mental health challenges influenced your perspective? 

Pooja: “Despite attending reputable schools and colleges, understanding mental health was a challenge. Conversations about mental health were notably absent during my upbringing, making it difficult to identify and accept what I was experiencing. Seeking help was another struggle—I didn’t know where to turn. Today, while various mental health professionals like clinical psychologists, counseling psychologists, and psychiatrists exist, many still don’t discern their differences. Often, people opt for a psychiatrist and medication immediately, assuming it resolves everything, but individual needs vary. Therapy, in my view, is crucial—it shouldn’t be reactive but part of overall wellness.”

USP of The Love Hope Company

The Love Hope Company aims to offer an immersive experience beyond therapy, fostering a comfortable, cozy environment while promoting awareness and combating misinformation surrounding mental health. They currently have both online and in-person sessions available. 

Interviewer: What factors contribute to your inclination towards face-to-face sessions?

Pooja: “Reflecting on my journey, finding a therapist and a safe space to share feelings was tough initially. I’ve tried both offline and online therapy due to COVID, yet I prefer the personal touch of offline sessions. There’s a comfort and a genuine connection that comes with face-to-face therapy, offering a space to freely express oneself without self-consciousness, unlike the discomfort of online pacing.”

Interviewer: How do you see the value in offering both offline and online mental health services?

Pooja: “Amidst the surge in online mental health services during COVID, I advocate for a hybrid approach—offline therapy still holds value. Our services encompass both offline and online modalities, along with diverse workshops such as art and musical sessions, aiming to provide various avenues for mental health care while prioritizing service quality.”

Navigating challenges

The journey to create an impact has been quite challenging. Pooja reveals, 

“The main challenges we faced initially revolved around the novelty of having a dedicated space for mental health services. Many individuals were hesitant about openly seeking therapy or acknowledging their need for it.”

Moreover, establishing trust and familiarity with accessing such services within a commercial space amidst other businesses was a key obstacle. While online therapy is available, the preference for in-person sessions among clients, including notable individuals, stems from the distinct and valuable experience offered. Maintaining client discretion within the commercial building setting was a crucial consideration in addressing these challenges.

Milestones so far

Since its founding, the company has gained significant visibility and endorsement, even before its launch in Chennai. Well-known names participated in the launch, aiding in establishing a strong presence through word of mouth.

The company has also been featured in the Deccan Chronicle and has conducted interviews on local cable channels, contributing to its outreach efforts.

Moreover, Pooja takes pride in the fact that The Love Hope Company has been able to stand as the pioneer in its field within India, focusing on innovative approaches to mental health services. Their physical space and setup are the first of their kind in the country.

Plans ahead

The company aims to expand its reach by establishing smaller centers in major metro cities, aiming to become a primary destination for mental health services, both online and offline. There are plans for technological advancements in the upcoming year to facilitate scalability. 

Additionally, the company has received franchisee inquiries from various parts of the country, indicating potential future expansions.

Pooja’s thoughts on scope in the industry:

“I think in the health industry, mental health is playing a very important role. We’ve seen a lot of articles, and we’ve been seeing a lot of conversations going around in some different industries. Before, say, five or ten years back, not many thought of it as something to work in or start a business. But now I think there’s a huge scope; a lot of tech-based startups are coming up in mental health, and it’s a very interesting industry to work in. I think, as a healthcare industry, mental health will be the next booming sector. So you just need to understand and probably identify what you’re doing and do it the right way.”

Snigdha Basu
Snigdha Basu
A multifaceted writer, Snigdha Basu is a freelancer and a columnist at Entrepreneurs Today. She also spearheads Chic Life Edition - her own Digital Magazine with sustainable fashion, beauty, and culture at its core. Reach out to Snigdha at [email protected] for inquiries.
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