In conversation with Vidit Bahri

Statistics suggest that 12% of any given population needs mental health intervention, so, for a country like ours, we have about 130 million population to be addressed immediately.

How is mental health very important especially in a country like India?

Mental health does not differ from country-to-country, rather it’s a global epidemic that needs to be controlled and monitored. Statistics suggest that 12% of any given population needs mental health intervention, so, for a country like ours, we have about 130 million population to be addressed immediately. India is a developing country and our active and working population is helping the economy to remain efficient and transition from developing to developed, but that cannot be achieved without integrating psychological well-being to this development.

Why Mental health is still considered a taboo in India?

A stigma or a taboo arises from unchartered territories. People who are not aware of the subject or do not have a real-life example to relate with, often associate mental health related issues to a disease. India needs to improve its per capita income and literacy rates for its people to recognize mental illness a raging epidemic that needs urgent attention and medical intervention.

However, the stigma has been gradually wearing off in the Tier-1 cities of India where people are highly educated and aware, recognizing the psychological illness as a serious issue.

How COVID 19 pandemic has increased the need for mental care?

For months, people were locked in their homes owing to a global pandemic in the outside world. As a result, they had to cope up with the new normal, one where their homes turned into offices and schools and for some, even their income channels fell short. Lack of social contact and disrupted schedules also effected behavioral changes in many individuals. As a response, many non-profit organizations and learned individuals tried to help their audience better and spread awareness about identifying trigger points & behavioral changes on the social media. The lockdown also enabled clinical psychologists, therapists, and psychoanalysis experts to launch their services online and make it easier for their patients to communicate within the comfort of their homes.

Explain about the business model of Sukoon Health and the services that you provide? Brief introduction about the founder

We started our operations in February 2020 as India’s first specialized hospital for Mental Health and De-Addiction. We have combined cutting edge technology with unparalleled patient care to provide the best clinical care in the country. We are also India’s first hospital that provides seamless hospitalization and treatment through our integrated team of clinicians and partners. We ensure our patients, the highest quality of patient care, and confidentiality. Our clinical program is managed by Fortis Mental Health. Our facility is spread across 15,000 sq/ft and is designed in accordance with the American Psychiatric Association (APA) standards. We have services including acute psychiatric hospitalization and a network of over 20 clinicians. Our psychiatric ward is equipped with 3 ICUs and has one of a kind end-to-end self-harm prevention technology for the safety of our patients.

Growth plans of the brand?

We aim at launching 500 beds in the next 3 years across India. We currently have a care facility in Gurugram, Haryana and plan to expand in Calcutta and Mumbai, where operations are already underway.

Industry market size?

The global industry for Behavioral Sciences and Mental Health is valued at $300 Billion as of 2019 and is expected to grow annually at a CAGR of 13%.

Expansion plans of Sukoon Health?

We are on our way to become India’s largest Mental Health Service provider. Our mission is to provide quality healthcare at affordable prices for every Indian. We are liaising with a number of third-party administrators and leading the race to make insurance available for mental healthcare in India.

Challenges faced while setting up the business?

Setting up a new concept is always difficult, especially when the concept is dripped in taboo and cultural ignorance. Convincing the stakeholders and aligning them with our vision was challenging at first. Even when there is a need of mental healthcare intervention in India, the demand is very low because of the attached stigma. Understanding the legal landscape also posed a challenge as the laws vary with every state government. Also, provisions around mental health facilities are mostly vague and government officials are not completely aware of the new Mental Health Act.

Future of health-tech industry?

The COVID pandemic has accelerated what we expected would take years to happen. It has made the mental healthcare system efficient and in full capacity. The combination of healthcare and technology must strive to bridge the gap in our system. With the help of mobile applications, video conferencing, and virtual reality, the future of health-tech industry looks promising for mental health segment in India. At Sukoon Health, we value our patient’s privacy and data security. We are proudly paperless and operate on a cloud-based data security and protection system.

How digital care to patients is the need of the hour?

Digital care has become business as usual in today’s time and scenario. People are afraid to leave their homes due to the coronavirus scare. So, we must make our services available to them in a safer environment. We must understand that the digital healthcare will never replace the physical care, however, it also should be well within our preventive and diagnostic capacities to offer mental healthcare to our patients through digital means.

Vidit Bahri is the Managing Director of Sukoon Health and a social entrepreneur.

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